I read Victor David Hanson’s column over at PajamasMedia yesterday morning and have been meaning to blog about it but, truth be told, I just haven’t felt like blogging. Anyhow, I’m back with a little red meat to throw your way. If you haven’t read Hanson’s column yet, do. It’s an instant classic and should be read in full. Hanson says many of the things I’ve said here in the past about Barack Obama, only much more eloquently than I ever could. I was particularly interested in this section:
This is an old story with a long heritage. We know Obama got into Columbia; we have no idea what he accomplished there — or whether his undergraduate transcript merited admission to Harvard Law School. Obama may have charmed his way into Harvard Law Review, but in brilliant fashion he seems to have guessed rightly that once there he would be singularly exempt from the usual requirements of quantifiable achievement.
A part-time visiting law professorship at the University of Chicago Law school rarely leads to a permanent tenure-track position, much less a tenured billet– and never without a body of published articles and books. In Obama’s case those protocols simply did not apply. He was not only offered whatever he wanted, but as Justice Kagan reminded us, Obama was courted by Harvard Law School as well.
Most candidates for state office do not sue to remove their opponents from the ballot. Obama petitioned (successfully) that most of them be disqualified in 1995. It is likewise rare for the sealed divorce records of a front-running primary rival to be mysteriously leaked, prompting a veritable uncontested nomination. But after Democratic rival Blair Hull imploded from such revelations, so did Obama’s general election Republican opponent Jack Ryan, who dropped out of the race after his divorce proceedings were eerily likewise exposed. Lightning does strike twice in the same place for the blessed Obama.
Obama had served in the Senate for about two years, when he announced his candidacy for the presidency. That too is rare, but not unprecedented; what was singular was his claim that he was a bipartisan uniter, when, in fact, he compiled the most partisan voting record among 100 senators of either party. He sponsored no major legislation; his memoirs reflected others’ interest in him, not his own record of lawmaking. His themes were winning over adherents rather signature accomplishments.
The exotic name, the mixed racial heritage, and the street cred cool, juxtaposed to the nerdy professorial sermonizing, trumped the need to author or repeal significant laws or create lasting community institutions — or to leave any footprint of achievement at either the University of Chicago, the Illinois legislature, or the U.S. Senate. Running for office or courting appointments or angling for promotions seemed divorced from worry about doing anything when such wishes were granted. Obama’s tragedy is that there is nothing left he can run for, no further adulatory confirmation for just being Obama. Performance for the first time in his life is now all that counts.
Names and images matter in America. Just as a hypothetical moderately attractive blond but empty “Pam Hill” would not earn the high profile accorded to her double-ganger Paris Hilton of similar non-achievement, so too a Barry Dunham does not catch on in the progressive political world in the manner of a Barack Obama.
Nobel Peace Prizes traditionally are awarded to those after a lifetime of activism, often after some exposure to danger, or at least a sizable body of inspirational literature. Obama simply had no such record. He is our collective Peter Sellers of Being There. To paraphrase the embarrassed awards committee, Obama was granted the prize more on his symbolic potential, rather than on the basis of anything he did. Like hundreds of other liberal elites, the Nobel committee seemed to draw more personal fulfillment and satisfaction for bequeathing the award than did Obama in receiving i
This picks up on a few of my pet memes: one, that the press was negligent in their vetting of Obama during the 2008 campaign (Hanson calls it “journalistic malfeasance”) and, two, that Obama has never had to work for it or earn it. Now that he has to he finds he’s not very good at it and doesn’t like it much. What are the odds, given that he is likely never again to be in a position to pass anything “transformative”, that he doesn’t even run in 2012?
The next bit of wonderfulness I pass on to you is the latest Chris Christie video. Yes, he’s shown himself lately to be a bit of a RINO, with his statements on immigration and his endorsement of Mike Castle in Delaware but you’ve got to love this guy. Not only is he blunt – his takedown of this teacher after she laughs as he begins his remarks is magnificent – but he then goes on to destroy her arguments point-by-point in language anyone can understand. He’s a great communicator. While I don’t think he will be a contender for the GOP 2012 nomination, if he turns New Jersey around he will be formidable in 2016 (unless, of course, a Republican wins in 2012). Like Drew says over at Ace of Spades, “when the big man takes off his coat…you’re toast.” Enjoy: