Will Hillary and Obama Make Up? Tune in Tomorrow to As D.C. Turns!
Notice this section at the tail-end of an AP story on the president’s week ahead:
Obama’s vacation has also been infused with a dose of politics. He headlined a fundraiser on the island for Democratic Senate candidates and attended a birthday party for Democratic adviser Vernon Jordan’s wife, where he spent time with former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
That get-together between the former rivals-turned-partners added another complicated dynamic to Obama’s vacation. Just as Obama was arriving on Martha’s Vineyard, an interview with the former secretary of state was published in which she levied some of her sharpest criticism of Obama’s foreign policy.
Clinton later promised she and Obama would “hug it out” when they saw each other at Jordan’s party. No reporters were allowed in, so it’s not clear whether there was any hugging, but the White House said the president danced to nearly every song.
We discussed this on Howard Kurtz’s Media Buzz Sunday morning, and I was left with the distinct impression that the Washington press corps has lost its collective mind.
The “hug it out” aspect of the recent Hillary Clinton–Barack Obama brouhaha is the absolute least important part of the whole matter. Think about it: The last secretary of state just said that Obama’s foreign policy had “no coherent organizing principle” and that “we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.” That’s a pretty damning indictment, well beyond the particulars of sending arms to the Syrian rebels. It goes well beyond Syria. But what makes the criticism so mind-boggling is that this was Hillary’s whole area of responsibility for four years, and she’s insisting that the disappointing results all around the globe are the president’s fault. If she’s telling the truth now, how would she characterize her praise for the president’s foreign policy from 2009 to 2013? How often did she suppress her objections and help enact policies she felt were doomed to failure?
In light of all that, who gives a flying fuchsia pantsuit about whether or not Hillary and Obama have patched it up, or who’s mad at who, or who’s still carrying a grudge against the other? It matters once it affects policy; until then, it’s part of a soap opera.
One of Ace of Spades’ keen observations, from last year:
For Obama’s fanbois [sic], this is not politics. This isn’t even America, not really, not anymore.
This is a movie. And Barack Obama is the Hero. And the Republicans are the Villains. And policy questions — and Obama’s myriad failures as an executive — are simply incidental. They are MacGuffins only, of no importance whatsoever, except to the extent they provide opportunities for Drama as the Hero fights in favor of them.
Watching Chris Matthews interview Obama, I was struck by just how uninterested in policy questions Matthews (and his panel) were, and how almost every question seemed to be, at heart, about Obama’s emotional response to difficulties– not about policy itself, but about Obama’s Hero’s Journey in navigating the plot of President Barack Obama: The Movie.
As with a MacGuffin in the movie, only the Hero’s emotional response to the MacGuffin matters.
Once you hear about this phenomenon of seeing all events through the lens of the personal heroic narrative of the president, you start recognizing it everywhere.