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The Angriest Guy in the Room

It wasn't long ago that people were heard frequently expressing irritation with President Obama's penchant for always trying to play the "smartest guy in the room."  Peggy Noonan observes that these days he's more likely to put people off with his penchant for being the angriest guy in the room.  His press conference on Tuesday announcing the "deal" (that, apparently, isn't a deal) is one of the more remarkable examples of an angry and defensive politician that I can remember.  As Noonan notes, he expressed a kind of hatred and revulsion for everything about the deal, everyone surrounding the deal, and everyone who is critical of the deal.  Who is left?  Moreover, as Noonan put it: 

The president must have thought that distancing himself from left and right would make him more attractive to the center. But you get credit for going to the center only if you say the centrist position you've just embraced is right. If you suggest, as the president did, that the seemingly moderate plan you agreed to is awful and you'll try to rescind it in two years, you won't leave the center thinking, "He's our guy!" You'll leave them thinking, "Note to self: Remove Obama in two years."

I think it is revealing to the point--almost--of obscenity that Obama chose that particular moment to chastise his base.  Watching it, you get the sense, almost of having walked in on a private conversation that you were not meant to overhear.  It is remarkably aloof and abstract and distant--directed almost over your head, as if you were a bug crawling on the floor.  It is especially to be noted when you combine that outburst at the left with the utter dismissive contempt he demonstrated for Republicans (e.g., tax cuts for the wealthy are their "holy grail"!?).   It shows that he is only open to arguments and sensitive to criticism coming at him from his left flank.  This--and this alone--was the knife that cut at him.  His left flank is the only place where he imagines real political conversation happens.  And you will note, too, what "political conversation" looks like.  It is not about the ends.  It is ONLY about the means.  It is about what is possible and how to accomplish it.  This reveals that he does not believe that serious debate about the nature and meaning of justice in American politics is either possible or legitimate.  He does not consider his political opponents to be potential friends or, even, fellow citizens.  They are, alternately, "terrorists" or "enemies" or now "hostage takers."  It ought to go without saying, but I cannot let it pass without remarking that this is an utterly despicable way for a President of the United States to address himself to the people.

Whatever one wants to say about the relative merits or demerits of the so-called "compromise" is almost uninteresting in comparison to Obama's reaction to it.  That should serve to solidify the growing consensus that he is and always has been out of touch with the sentiments of the vast majority of the American people. It should harden hearts to him as he continues to set himself apart from the mainstream of conversation about America's current woes because he continues to demonstrate no understanding of her essential nature or foundation in the concept of consent.  It should serve as a reminder to the newly elected Congress of what they were elected to combat.  Will it?  We will see . . . 
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Imagine how disappointing it all must be for the president! If the American people felt like they got ol' bait and switch when they voted for the All (new) American guy and got somebody who seems a little anti-American to most of us, he must feel like someone switched out his electorate for something far less satisfactory. How could we do this to him? If he has always done everything well, now, he seems to be unable to put a foot right. No wonder he's angry.

Don't you wonder whose idea it was to bring the Bill Clinton to pour oil over the troubled water? He says it's a good deal (the best in the circumstances), a good bill (although unpalatable), and "If I was in office now, I would have done what the president has done," he said.

Don't you think it must be galling?

Obama's angry demeanor while ostensibly making the case for the compromise reveals a man lacking in self control. The very last quality needed when getting sharply opposed politicians to compromise is a disposition to condemn, which Obama displayed in spades. He should read that part of Lincoln's Temperance Address where he repeats the old adage that "you can catch more flies with a drop of honey than a gallon of gall." Obama does not know how to handle disagreement, which he clearly regards as illegitimate, given the surpassing righteousness of his cause. He reminds me of the President in the last Tom Clancy novel who is furious at the Palestinian terrorists who want to blow up the Super Bowl because that will derail his glorious moment of triumph with a world-wide peace agreement. Jack Ryan has to restrain the president from blowing them to kingdom come. With Obama, too, it's personal.

On the other hand, part of this has to be theater. The Left is all about anger, especially over class and inequality as they have defined it. If Obama is compelled to compromise because of current politics, he must appease the Left with a show of anger that indicates solidarity with them. Not that he is not angry. I don't really mean to disagree. Yet displaying that anger in the way he does is not necessary; it is overdone, overheated, and expresses a sympathy with someone like Bernie Sanders that -- in re Julie's point -- is not expressing sympathy with the rest of America. A president is handled; are his handlers telling him this is a good idea?

The creature has always been possessed of what can only be termed a mens aliena. That was never really at issue.

But by his own words, his own appointments, his policies, we can add to that mens aliena a mens rea.

He is a tremendously dark figure.

And where's Lawler?

Wasn't Lawler praising this guy's intellect, his demeanor.

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