"American Narcissus: The Vanity of Barack Obama"
Thumb sailer
November 18, 2010, 11:03 PM
Print Friendly and PDF

Jonathan V.  Last had a good article a few weeks ago in The Weekly Standard demonstrating the size of the President`s ego.

For example, he highlights this quote from a 2008 Ryan Lizza profile of Obama:

Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” 

If true, Obama should have hired better speechwriters, policy directors, and political directors ASAP.

Two points:

Does Obama have a sense of humor about his egomania? For example, 

Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” 

Now, that`s not a bad ad-lib. I`m sometimes surprised by Obama`s wit because Dreams from My Father is so self-serious. Still, I`m left wondering about whether Obama makes many second order jokes about his ego? (I don`t watch TV news so I can`t say.) Or does he take himself that seriously? You can`t expect a President to be humble, but you can hope he`ll be self-aware about his ego. Some of Obama`s more egregious lines in Last`s compendium could be taken as Obama mocking his own ego, but I haven`t noticed that he does that. But I could be wrong.

The second point is that Obama`s Smartest-Guy-in-the-Room syndrome is directly related to his being constantly seen by his admirers (including his Admirer-in-Chief, the President) as the Living Refutation of The Bell Curve. It`s not a coincidence that just about the only exercise in national journalism Obama indulged in during the 1990s was to deliver on NPR in 1994 a commentary on The Bell Curve

Much of David Remnick`s hagiography The Bridge, for instance, consists of smart Jewish people raving about how smart Obama is. He was the one they`d been waiting for to hold up as an example of a smart black guy, which, in turn, in the "He who says A must say B, C, and D" reasoning that dominates American intellectual life today, could be read to also imply the really important lesson of all this: that Jews aren`t naturally smarter on average (so put away those pitchforks). 

I know this web of subliminal logic seems ridiculous when exposed to the light of day, but that`s how a lot of important people feel.

The problem with all this investment in Obama`s smartness as more than just a personal characteristic is that for any of minions to say to him, "No, Mr. President, you don`t understand" or "Let me try to explain that more simply" is not just a personal and political insult, but is also a racial insult.