VDH carves BHO a new ass……

America 101 With Dean Obama

By Victor Davis Hanson, Pajamas Media

America is now a campus, and Obama is our Dean

This is the strangest presidency I have seen in my lifetime. President Obama gives soaring lectures on civility, but still continues his old campaign invective (“get in their face,” “bring a gun to a knife fight,” etc.) with new attacks on particular senators, Rush Limbaugh, and entire classes of people—surgeons, insurers, Wall Street, those at Fox News, tea-partiers, etc.

And like the campaign, he still talks of bipartisanship (remember, he was the most partisan politician in the Senate), but has rammed through health care without a single Republican vote. His entire agenda—federal take-overs of businesses, near two-trillion-dollar deficits, health care, amnesty, and cap and trade—does not earn a majority in the polls. Indeed, the same surveys reveal him to be the most polarizing president in memory.

His base was hyper-critical of deficit spending under Bush, the war on terror, Iraq and Afghanistan, and government involvement with Wall Street. But suddenly even the most vocal of the left have gone silent as Obama’s felonies have trumped Bush’s misdemeanors on every count.

All this reminds me of the LaLa land of academia. Let me explain.

That Was Then, This is Now

Last week, Obama was at it again. He blasted the oil companies and his own government for lax regulation in the Gulf, apparently convinced that no one in the media would consider his last 16 months of governance in any way responsible for, well, federal governance. (I don’t have strong views on the degree of culpability a president has for lax federal agencies amid disasters, only that I learned from the media between 2004-8 that a president must accept a great deal of blame after most catastrophes [at least Katrina was nature- rather than human- induced].)

Obama also trashed, inter alia, Halliburton for the spill, as he had done on other matters ritually in the campaign (“I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all,” “The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I’m in the White House”). Obama seemed to assume that few cared that his administration just gave Halliburton a $568 million no-bid contract.

Standards for Thee, But Not …

When a Senator Obama a while back weighed in on the ill-fated Harriet Miers, he quite logically predicated his skepticism on a dearth of publications (though I found that embarrassing at the time since Senator/Law Professor Obama was essentially without a record of scholarly work), and an absence of judicial experience—both legitimate concerns. So, of course, are we now to expect Obama to talk up his recent Supreme Court nominee Ms. Kagan, and ignore her relative lack of scholarly experience without a judicial past (sort of like being secretary of education without having taught anything)? Does the president, who as a senator voted to deny a court seat to Alito and Roberts, think Kagan is better qualified than either, and, if so, on what grounds—more scholarship, more judicial experience, a more diverse upbringing, intangible criteria like once recruiting Barack Obama?

I once wondered during the campaign whether such serial contradictions in the Obama narrative ever mattered. During his denials of ever hearing Rev. Wright engage in the pastor’s trademark hate speech, I recalled Obama’s 2004 interview with the Sun-Times when he was running for the Senate and wanted to boast of his religious fides. When asked, “Do you still attend Trinity?” Obama snapped right back, “Yep. Every week. 11 o’clock service.” Every week, but mysteriously not one in which Wright did his customary race-bashing?

When for the first time since 1976 a presidential candidate reneged on promises to participate in pubic financing in the general relations, I remembered Obama’s early promise to do the opposite. The press slept on that.

The list of his blatant contradictions could be multiplied. I’ve written here about the past demagoguing on tribunals, Predators, Guantanamo, renditions, Afghanistan, Iraq, wiretaps, intercepts, and the Patriot Act, and the subsequent Obama embrace of all of them, in some cases even trumping Bush in his exuberance.

The Never-ending Story

We could play this game with the entire health care debate—all on C-SPAN, will save billions, not cost billions as the CBO now attests, etc.—the pledge not to hire lobbyists or allow earmarks, the pledge to post legislation for a specified time on the government website, the pledge to prohibit his team from returning within 2 years to the private lobbying revolving door, and so on.

The blatant hypocrisy and untruths are superimposed on a constant (it has not yet begun to let up in his second year) refrain of either “Bush did it” or “the opposition won’t let me be bipartisan.”

Where does this disregard for the truth arise? On the most superficial level, of course, Obama realizes that the media is obsequious and sanctions almost anything he does. He knows that his base was always interested in power, not principle (has anyone seen any war protests the last few weeks against Afghanistan or Iraq, or Guantanamo, or the quadrupling of Predator attacks? Or for that matter, are there anti-Obama Hispanic protests over the increased crackdown on employers and greater deportations than during the Bush era?).

America 101

Yet again, neither the press nor his chameleon followers quite explain what is going on. Instead, I think we, the American people, are seen by Obama as a sort of Ivy League campus, with him as an untouchable dean. So we get the multicultural bromides, the constant groupthink, and the reinvention of the self that we see so often among a professional class of administrator in universities (we used to get their memos daily and they read like an Obama teleprompted speech). Given his name, pedigree, charisma, and eloquence, Obama could say or do almost anything—in the way race/class/gender adjudicate reality on campus, or perhaps in the manner the old gentleman C, pedigreed rich students at prewar Princeton sleepwalked through their bachelor’s degrees, almost as a birthright. (I am willing to apologize for this crude analogy when the Obama Columbia undergraduate transcript is released and explains his next rung Harvard.) In other words, the public does not grasp to what degree supposedly elite universities simply wave their own rules when they find it convenient.

In academia, there are few consequences for much of anything; but in Obama’s case his legal career at Chicago seems inexplicable without publications (and even more surreal when Law Dean Kagan laments on tape her difficulties in recruiting him to the law school—but how would that be possible when a five- or six-book law professor from a Texas or UC Irvine would never get such an offer from a Chicago or Harvard?).

What You Say You Are

On an elite university campus what you have constructed yourself into always matters more than what you have done. An accent mark here, a hyphenated name there is always worth a book or two. There is no bipartisanship or indeed any political opposition on campuses; if the Academic Senate weighs in on national issues to “voice concern,” the ensuing margin of vote is usually along the lines of Saddam’s old lopsided referenda.

In other words, Obama assumed as dean he would talk one way, do another, and was confident he could “contextualize” and “construct” a differing narrative—to anyone foolish enough who questioned the inconsistency. As we have seen with Climategate, or the Gore fraud, intent always trumps empiricism in contemporary intellectual circles. Obama simply cannot be held to the same standard we apply to most other politicians—given his heritage, noble intention, and landmark efforts to transform America into something far fairer.

Like so many academics, Obama becomes petulant when crossed, and like them as well, he “deigns” to know very little out of his field (from Cinco de Mayo to the liberation of Auschwitz), and only a little more in it. Obama voiced the two main gospels of the elite campus: support for redistributive mechanisms with other people’s wealth; and while abroad, a sort of affirmative action for less successful nations: those who are failing and criticized the U.S. under Bush proved insightful and worthy of outreach ( a Russia or Syria); but those who allied themselves with us (an Israel or Colombia) are now suspect.

The Intrusions of the Real World

How does our tenure with Obama as dean end?

I have no idea other than I think at some point Obama’s untruths, hypocrisies, and contradictions will, in their totality, finally remind the voter that he is a citizen and not a student.

After all, America is not a campus. It has real jobs that are not lifelong sinecures. Americans work summers. There are consequences when rhetoric does not match reality. Outside of Harvard or Columbia, debt has to be paid back and is not called stimulus. We worry about jobs lost, not those in theory created or saved. We don’t blame predecessors for our own ongoing failures. Those who try to kill us are enemies, whose particular grievances we don’t care much to know about. Diversity is lived rather than professed; temporizing is not seen as reflection, but weakness.

And something not true is not a mere competing narrative, but a flat-out lie.

May 19, 2010 | 17 Comments »

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17 Comments / 17 Comments

  1. In 410-4 Vote, House Approves Millions in Extra Funding for Israel’s Missile Defense

    The four Representatives voting against the resolution were John Conyers (D – MI), Dennis Kucinich (D – OH), Ron Paul (R – TX), and Pete Stark (D – CA).

    Has Rand Paul ever made a distinction between his views on Israel and those of his father?

    They seem to be on the same page about everything else.

    If Rand Paul has voiced support for Israel, it would be interesting to parse his language to determine whether he is perpetrating an Obama-style deception.

  2. Steven Wright:

    When I was a little kid we had a sand box.
    It was a quicksand box.
    I was an only child…

  3. my Christian Louboutin patent leather pumps ($129.95 retail) wedged in it!!”

    You paid retail? You can be excommunicated for such a sin.

    Stillborn? Well, my mother always said my brother was an only child.

    Thanks for your kind and justified support. It’s really heartwarming to know that there is at least one who cares enough to soil her new $129.95(retail) Christian Louboutin patent leather pumps for little ole’ me. I’m so choked with uncontrolled emotion by your gesture.
    Think I’ll go and make myself a stiff drink.

  4. If you mean my Jewish-Israel News & Views initiative, not bad, but as with any new venture it takes time to be a success, if success is in the cards. Yeah, I know the chances are slim, but so what? I will keep with it for a while yet at least. If you want some samples, have Ted give you my e mail address.

  5. Uncanny, when I wrote it I thought to myself “what would Narvey think” and bingo you read it and commented on it!

    This exemplifies why I find the restraint to withhold compliments from mly.

    I showed that photo to a friend.

    She said, “Oh…is he stillborn?”

    I somehow controlled the rage volcanically rising within me and said – sweet as you please – “Get the fuck out of my house, you dime an hour whore! And don’t show your Jupiter-sized ass around these here parts unless you want my Christian Louboutin patent leather pumps ($129.95 retail) wedged in it!!”


    My little yamit?

    That is like waving a rojo flag right in front of el toro.

  6. I had a conversation last night with the head of production at a studio.

    He said, “We like hiring you because your work rarely requires a rewrite.”

    I said, “But I am the one you hire to do the rewrite.”

    He said, “Oh. Yeah.”

    And you wonder why they are all liberal.

    Okay we know by now what a Script Doctor is supposed to do, but what do you call the one they hire to rewrite what the Script Doctor screwed up?

    A Script plumber? or Writo Wrooter?

  7. Yamit, well said.

    Are you feeling alright?

    Uncanny, when I wrote it I thought to myself “what would Narvey think” and bingo you read it and commented on it!

    Thank You, Bill

    How is Mission Impossible going?

  8. While I agree with all that you…


    I have noticed that every time you agree with me, you turn out to be right.

    It is uncanny.


    That would “canny”.

    Here is what Google Images offers as first selection for “uncanny”.<

    Seems more like “cakey”.


    Every time you agree with me, it is cakey.

    I had a conversation last night with the head of production at a studio.

    He said, “We like hiring you because your work rarely requires a rewrite.”

    I said, “But I am the one you hire to do the rewrite.”

    He said, “Oh. Yeah.”

    And you wonder why they are all liberal.

  9. While I agree with all that you and laurale have to say and most of what VDH writes re: the Black Plague, I think it much to simplistic to place the bulk of the blame on BHO. It was after-all a majority of Americans who voted for him in a system that allowed such as him to become President.

    Many a comment from me has been devoted to How a nation of 300 million plus (+), can’t do better than to elect the likes of BHO, BUSH,CLINTON, BUSH and of course CARTER? It appears most Americans do not care about holding their elected leaders to high office to a higher standard and opt for the superficial and what is the most populist messages of the candidates before the elections.

    People hate responsibility, and when political demagogues urge them to trust the government as they all do; and when someone promises to care about you, and everyone around seems to concur, you also tend to concur.

    Small groups are still reasoning entities, but reason disappears from large populations. The major reason for that is the tendency of a mob to sink to the lowest common denominator: people shrink from offending others, realizing subconsciously that that may be dangerous, and seek common ground with them. The common point is the lowest common denominator, and for a large country this denominator is really low.

    If the problems are serious but not imminent, people prefer avoiding them. So sweet-talking demagogues are voted into office even though their promises are evidently absurd. Any candidate who tells the unpleasant truth to the mob has no chance of being elected.

    In the era of mass media, election campaigns are expensive. Grassroots financing is a fairy tale: once a candidate becomes widely known and his chances appear somewhat realistic, large donors flock to him. That is venture financing in the political sphere: the risks are large, but the potential profits are staggering, as the first large donors will likely remain the new ruler’s closest confidants throughout his career. And so we saw German industrialists financing Hitler, and Jewish American businessmen backing Obama. An honest candidate stands no chance of securing sufficient financing, as he is not sufficiently corrupt to shower his benefactors with government contracts and subsidies upon reaching office.

    In large countries with a history of freedom, mass media are in theory somewhat able to check corrupt and obviously wrong policies. We have seen this occurring less and less in America and the west I think mostly due to lack of competition as over the years there has been a consolidation of ownership in the print and electronic media.

    Democracy still remains popular because it allows the ruling classes to rule as if by popular consent (manufacturing and twisting that consent) and providing academics with the opportunity to legitimately influence societies with social theories, that by the time they are proved to be bad and unworkable in practice the damage that results weaken the system and the confidence and beliefs of the governed in their leaders and in their system.

    BHO is the inevitable consequence of what has gone wrong with the American system of representative democracy and even a strong indictment of American society as a whole.

  10. I have no idea other than I think at some point Obama’s untruths, hypocrisies, and contradictions will, in their totality, finally remind the voter that he is a citizen and not a student.

    Victory begins by locating the resolve to defy fear and stop pulling punches.

    Obama’s untruths


    Obama’s lies.

    He lied his way into the presidency, and now he lies to implement his agenda.

    “Untruths” is a weasel word, a term to be uttered while cringing and flinching.

    Obama is an habitual liar.

    Name the issue: Health care, taxes, Israel, Arizona immigration enforcement…any topic you choose, and Obama feels compelled to lie because his views are anathema to the American people.

    McCain’s unwillingness to call him a liar and then document the allegation resulted in the Obama presidency.

    Continued unwillingness to blurt out the unpleasant truth about our Fraud-In-Chief will result in a second Obama term.

    All together now:

    Obama lies.

    Let us relegate the term “untruths” to the rhetorical ash bin of history.