Author Topic: The President's Political Rorshach Test  (Read 1058 times)

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Offline The Bare Knuckled Pundit

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The President's Political Rorshach Test
« on: September 01, 2009, 03:13:37 PM »
In a moment of introspection and candor in his best-selling book "The Audacity of Hope", President Obama wrote, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” As his freshman Summer of Discontent gives way to what may well be a Fall of Frustration, his words seem profoundly prophetic.

In a demonstration of keen political acumen, the President's campaign deftly transformed him into the embodiment of two of the most powerful and raw forces coursing through the electorate last year - hope and change. With Shepard Fairey's iconic "Hope" poster reinforced by images of throngs of adulating voters inspired by his oratory prowess, the dreams and aspirations of millions played across the "screen" that is Obama like a panoramic Cecil B. DeMille epic. Indeed, one can easily imagine Obama leading the faithful off on their journey to the promised land of milk and honey ala Charlton Heston in "The Ten Commandments".

In stark contrast to his ardent supporters, the President's detractors saw him in equally vivid and evocative terms - disingenuous, cynical and dangerous. Damning him as duplicitous, they feverishly decried his failure to be candid on the extent of the change he truly sought. With great wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Conservative Cassandras warned the change he brought was not to Washington, but rather to the nation beyond the Beltway. Once ensconced at the pinnacle of political power, he would use it to bend the nation to the will of the rising Liberal leviathan he would preside over. In their view, an Obama presidency was a clear and present danger to our very way of life.

Though reality certainly lies somewhere in the middle, seven months into his term with the election receding into history, the President has done little to dispel either view of him. Being demonized by as many as beatify him, the question is what is the reality behind the images projected on the presidential "screen"?

Referring to a pragmatism that teetered on vacillation, James Carville once drew a dot in an empty circle and asked of Bill Clinton, what's at the center? What did he truly believe in? In light of the President's comment, the same could just as readily be asked of Obama.

What principals underpin and inform his policies? What positions are sacrosanct and non-negotiable? Having waged a crusade for the White House, what political ground does he consider holy and inviolable? To date, there is passingly little one can base any reasonable answer on.

Pardon me, but was that the faint refrain of The Who's "The Real Me" I hear in the distance? "Can you see the real me, can you, can you?"

Having farmed out the stimulus package, cap and trade and health reform to Speaker Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership, the President has displayed an uncanny ability to delegate policy while appearing to be engaged. Essentially, Obama has become the Cheerleader-In-Chief for an agenda that plays to the loftiest hopes of his most ardent supporters while reinforcing the worst fears of his timorous detractors. The result, though, is a lack of substantive leadership from the White House.

That being the case, one wonders what set of circumstances would be of such import to compel the President to step forward, lay his principals and beliefs bare to the world and unequivocally lead the nation down the path he and not others has chosen to take. Until such time he will remain a soulless political mirror and a two dimensional caricature.

Then again, perhaps that's nothing more than the image I'm projecting on the screen, faithful readers.

Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and we see what the next feature is in the President's political matinee.
Some things are too damned important to be taken so seriously.