In yesterday’s G-File, I wrote about Obama’s tendency to insist that he has done everything right. Failures are always the result of people or institutions not pulling their weight the way he does. An excerpt:
At the press conference, the president made no mention of this in his prepared remarks about the Africa summit, which he read aloud with all of the passion of a DMV bureaucrat explaining the different methods of payment for a parking ticket. He then took questions. Chris Jansing of NBC asked whether the sanctions against Russia were working. With his customary logic-chopping defensiveness, the president responded that the sanctions were doing what they were intended to do, but it was unclear whether they were actually working. This is like explaining that the pepper spray did everything it was supposed to do but the bear is eating your face anyway.
It’s also perfectly Obamaesque. I did exactly what I set out to do. If it’s not working, it’s only because someone else isn’t responding the way they’re supposed to. I gave a speech telling the oceans to stop rising, damn it! I even said “let me be clear.”
The point of the sanctions isn’t to prove that sanctions can cause “economic pain.” The point is to deter Vladimir Putin. And on that score, they clearly aren’t working at all. It’s amazing to me how much Obama thinks and talks like a bureaucrat. I’ve checked my box! I did my job! I’ve fulfilled my responsibilities. If the bear is eating your face, it must be the fault of Jones in accounting. Hate that guy.
This has been Obama’s standard response to problems around the globe. He did what he was “supposed to do,” and whenever the consequences of his actions create problems, it’s because others didn’t do what they were supposed to do.
Here is Obama’s in the Tom Friedman interview:
“Our politics are dysfunctional,” said the president, and we should heed the terrible divisions in the Middle East as a “warning to us: societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions. And the more diverse the country is, the less it can afford to take maximalist positions.”
While he blamed the rise of the Republican far right for extinguishing so many potential compromises, Obama also acknowledged that gerrymandering, the Balkanization of the news media and uncontrolled money in politics — the guts of our political system today — are sapping our ability to face big challenges together, more than any foreign enemy. “Increasingly politicians are rewarded for taking the most extreme maximalist positions,” he said, “and sooner or later, that catches up with you.”
So, the bulk of the blame falls on the “rise of the far right,” which Obama likens to Middle Eastern factions taking “maximalist positions.” Note how Tom Friedman, Middle East expert to the stars, offers no objection to this ridiculous comparison. But, hold on. Obama is generous with blame. Gerrymandering, the Balkanized news media (AKA Fox News) and money in politics (by which they both surely mean “far right wing money” not the more copious “far left wing money”). Left out of this cornucopia of blame is the president himself. Everybody but Barack Obama has let him down.
It’s amazing how a guy who makes everything about himself (I, me, I said, as I said before, I directed, since I was president, let me be clear…) isn’t responsible for anything that has gone wrong over the last five years.