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Maladies of patient O

April 20, 2011

Diagnosis of the Malady

a) An erratic, unengaged president is bored with the work part of the job, enjoying far more the golf, attention, influence, and perks (despite not getting a “cool” phone system with a drop-down screen in the Oval Office), and so he simply sleepwalks through his speeches, oblivious to the contradictions he presents. (Who cares if his Libyan misadventure contradicts almost everything he said from 2002-10, since he was already on to Rio and praising Brazil for drilling off-shore in a manner we never would. Life is short, but the job cool.) OR

b) The president is cynical and says whatever he wishes without worry of consequences, because based on the past abyss between laurels and achievement (Harvard Law Review, offer of Chicago Law School tenure, record in the Senate, Nobel Prize, etc.), he feels exempt from scrutiny and audit. Indeed, he expects that he can always “hope and change” or “millions of green jobs” his way out of any rare, nit-picking journalistic follow-up. (A journalist will always declare him a “god” even if speech A nullifies speech B a day later). OR

c) The president says, like most, what he must to be elected and now reelected; Guantanamo, renditions, Iraq, tribunals, Predators, preventative detention, public campaign financing, revolving door politics, earmarks, lobbyists, etc. — these are all just “constructs” without real absolute truth. They are bad or good, depending on the political calculus at any given time — a consideration that changes sometimes hourly. So Obama seems to have discovered that what he said to get elected, or even said two weeks ago, he need not say today again or tomorrow. Polls change, so do talking points. (He also knows that 50% of the citizenry receive some sort of government money; almost 50% pay no income tax; and in February more money was redistributed than collected by the Treasury. Therefore most Americans will stick by him whatever he says — as long as he keeps the money flowing.) OR

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