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The Front Man
Face of the lawless bureaucracy
(AP/Charles Dharapak)


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Conservatives have for years attempted to put our finger upon precisely why Barack Obama strikes us as queer in precisely the way he does. There is an alienness about him, which in the fever swamps is expressed in all that ridiculous Kenyan-Muslim hokum, but his citizen-of-the-world shtick is strictly sophomore year — the great globalist does not even speak a foreign language. Obama has been called many things — radical, socialist — labels that may have him dead to rights at the phylum level but not down at his genus or species. His social circle includes an alarming number of authentic radicals, but the president’s politics are utterly conventional managerial liberalism. His manner is aloof, but he is too plainly a child of the middle class to succumb to the regal pretensions that the Kennedys suffered from, even if his household entourage does resemble the Ringling Bros. Circus as reimagined by Imelda Marcos when it moves about from Kailua Beach to Blue Heron Farm. Not a dictator under the red flag, not a would-be king, President Obama is nonetheless something new to the American experience, and troubling.

It is not simply the content of his political agenda, which, though wretched, is a good deal less ambitious than was Woodrow Wilson’s or Richard Nixon’s. Barack Obama did not invent managerial liberalism, nor has he contributed any new ideas to it. He is, in fact, a strangely incurious man. Unlike Ronald Reagan, to whom he likes to be compared, President Obama shows no signs of having expended any effort on big thinkers or big ideas. President Reagan’s guiding lights were theorists such as F. A. Hayek and Thomas Paine; Obama’s most important influences have been tacticians such as Abner Mikva, bush-league propagandists like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and his beloved community organizers. Far from being the intellectual hostage of far-left ideologues, President Obama does not appear to have the intellectual energy even to digest their ideas, much less to implement them. This is not to say that he is an unintelligent man. He is a man with a first-class education and a business-class mind, a sort of inverse autodidact whose intellectual pedigree is an order of magnitude more impressive than his intellect.


Contents
August 5, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 14

Articles
Features
  • Face of the lawless bureaucracy.
  • Obama’s end-run around the Senate, and the Constitution.
  • Felix Rodriguez, freedom fighter and patriot.
  • Hospitals are to blame for obscene health-care costs.
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Charles Crawford reviews Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography: From Grantham to the Falklands, by Charles Moore .
  • Daniel Foster reviews The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution, by David Lefer.
  • Edward Feser reviews Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism, by Robert P. George.
  • Florence King reviews Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch, by Barbara A. Perry.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Joss Whedon’s film Much Ado About Nothing.
Sections
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .