Discover more from Bernard Goldberg's Commentary
The "Sort of God" and the Politician
Barack Obama was going to be different. At least that was the storyline.
Sure he was a politician, but only technically. He was so much more than that, according to the narrative. In Barack Obama we had a candidate who was smart and charismatic and wasn’t going to behave like any old time politician who came before him. No, he was not just different; he was better. He was the future. Here was a man who was selling “hope” and “change” to a nation that could use a little hope and change after George W. Bush. So America rallied behind this man of vision. And in the eyes of many Americans, he was much more than a mere man; he was a messiah.
It all sure sounded good, especially since the message was coming from a candidate who could actually speak coherently – unlike his predecessor – and one who flashed that million dollar smile that made his fans, including many slobbering journalists, swoon. Evan Thomas, the thinker in residence at Newsweek, once said Obama was a “sort of God.”
So how’s all that hope and change stuff working out for us?
Well, let’s take the president’s single most important hope and change idea: healthcare. While silly Americans were worried about small things, like their jobs, President Obama was concerned with much bigger things, like transforming America. So Old Healthcare had to go and New ObamaCare had to take its place. There was just one problem. The American people didn’t share his vision. And neither did all the Democrats in the U.S. Senate. So what did our “sort of God” do? He did exactly what every hack politician who came before him has done: he bought votes with taxpayer money. A few hundred million for the Democrat senator from Louisiana. A few hundred million more for the Democratic senator from Nebraska. “A million here and a million there, pretty soon it adds up to real money,” as the late Republican senator from Illinois, Everett Dirsken used to say.
But even old-fashioned bribes weren’t enough to insure passage of the bill. So the president again showed us how different he was from all those old politicians. This time he brought a bunch of his union pals into the White House, closed the doors, pulled the shades, turned down the lights, and cut them a special deal: union members would avoid taxes, at least for a few years, on their Cadillac medical insurance plans -- but you would have to pay up right away.
You think some old-time pol would do something like that? Never mind.
The whole thing might have actually worked except for one thing: Scott Brown won the senate seat Teddy Kennedy used to hold in the bluest of blue states, Massachusetts -- and the Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority in the senate.
How about race? Now that America had turned its back on its ugly racial history and elected a black man as president, all the bickering over race – everyone hoped – would finally be over. Dream on! Criticize the president’s policies and there’s a good chance that some liberal yahoo will call you a racist.
Think I’m exaggerating? Well, consider this. Just the other day, Sarah Palin, speaking to the first national Tea Party Convention in Nashville, called the President of the United States, who used to teach law, a terrible name. She said he was … a professor. Gasp! “They know we're at war, and to win that war we need a commander in chief,” Ms. Palin said, “not a professor of law standing at the lectern.”
And that prompted Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, who has known Barack Obama since he was a law student at Harvard, to say that Palin was pretty much a bigot.
The professor label is a thinly veiled attack on Obama’s race, according to Ogletree. Calling him the “professor,” Ogletree says, comes dangerously close to calling him “uppity” –a term with nasty racial implications.
So in post-racial Obama America, professor = uppity = you’re a racist. And Ogletree isn’t some lone pinhead on the subject. Thomas L. Haskell, a professor emeritus of history at Rice University, also sees racism at work.
“For me and a lot of other academic types, we identify with Obama precisely because he is an intellectual,” Haskell said. “But what does that mean to John Q. Public? I don’t know. John Q. Public may be frightened of these people, especially because this particular intellectual is a black man.”
Get it? John Q. Public – that’s you – is a bigot who doesn’t appreciate Barack Obama’s intellect because all you John Q. Publics out there can see is the color of the president's skin.
One more thing: Old style pols are always telling the voters whatever they have to just to get elected, right? Not Obama. Remember, he was different. And you may also remember that during the campaign candidate Obama repeatedly said he would not raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year. But just the other day, he told reporters from Bloomberg BusinessWeek that he was “agnostic” on the issue. A bi-partisan presidential commission is going to try to figure out ways to reduce the gigantic federal deficit – and everything is on the table, Obama said. Everything! Translation: The president is no longer 100 percent against tax increases on the middle-class. He’s agnostic.
I ask again: How’s that hope and change working out for you?