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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama Arrogance Watch

Is the "news" media beginning to catch on?

Long before February when Barack Obama said "We are the ones we've been waiting for" the general impression of Obama among even some in the media is that for an inexperienced junior Senator, the former community organizer, Obama thinks pretty highly of himself.

An ego in politics is nothing new. But if you get to the point where late night comedians are wondering if we should bother holding an election at all because Obama already thinks he's won (see the Daily Show's Jon Stewart, or David Letterman's Top Ten list) you might be in a bit of trouble.

Obama's faux presidential seal was just one example of overreaching. A no less telling example was replacing the American flag on Obama's campaign plane with his "O" symbol.

Months before both those examples, Ron Fournier writing for the Associated Press had this to say:

The Trouble With Obama's Arrogance
By RON FOURNIER
Associated Press
March 18, 2008

...The dictionary defines the word as an "offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride." Mr. Obama may not be offensive or overbearing, but he can be a bit too cocky for his own good.
...
[B]oth Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, ooze a sense of entitlement.

"Barack is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics," his wife said a few weeks ago, adding that Americans will get only one chance to elect him.
...
If arrogance is a display of self-importance and superiority, Mr. Obama earns the pejorative every time he calls his pre-invasion opposition to the war in Iraq an act of courage.
...
Nobody expects Mr. Obama to be perfect. But he better never forget that he isn't.

And who can forget that on the day he finally nudged Hillary Clinton from the race Obama gave a speech where he declared: "this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." Is it any wonder people call him messianic? You half expected him to raise Moses's staff to the wind and demand the waters recede right on the spot.

Then of course there was his World Obama Tour and the political rally in Berlin where it seemed he was running for Class President of the world when he said: "People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time." As I noted at the time, columnist Charles Krauthammer summed it up best: "For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?"

As the glow started to fade from Obama's magical mystery tour, new questions were raised:

Arrogance Will Not Help Get Obama Elected
By Susan Estrich
Fox News
Friday, July 25, 2008

In the prayer he left at the Western Wall, Senator Obama asked the Lord to protect him from pride and despair. Maybe he should have added something about protecting his campaign from the related danger of arrogance. It might be the biggest threat to Obama’s success.

“They think they can’t lose,” one of the smartest people I know said to me this week, describing the attitude he sees on display in the Obama campaign. He isn’t the first one to say it.
Elevating the issue of Obama's arrogance two or three notches higher, Dana Milbank writes in Wednesday's Washington Post:

President Obama Continues Hectic Victory Tour
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post
Wednesday, July 30, 2008; Page: A03

Barack Obama has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee.

Fresh from his presidential-style world tour, during which foreign leaders and American generals lined up to show him affection, Obama settled down to some presidential-style business in Washington yesterday. He ordered up a teleconference with the (current president's) Treasury secretary, granted an audience to the Pakistani prime minister and had his staff arrange for the chairman of the Federal Reserve to give him a briefing. Then, he went up to Capitol Hill to be adored by House Democrats in a presidential-style pep rally.

Along the way, he traveled in a bubble more insulating than the actual president's. Traffic was shut down for him as he zoomed about town in a long, presidential-style motorcade, while the public and most of the press were kept in the dark about his activities, which included a fundraiser at the Mayflower where donors paid $10,000 or more to have photos taken with him. His schedule for the day, announced Monday night, would have made Dick Cheney envious.
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As he marches toward Inauguration Day (Election Day is but a milestone on that path), Obama's biggest challenger may not be Republican John McCain but rather his own hubris.

Some say the supremely confident Obama -- nearly 100 days from the election, he pronounces that "the odds of us winning are very good" -- has become a president-in-waiting. But in truth, he doesn't need to wait: He has already amassed the trappings of the office, without those pesky decisions.
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In the latest issue of the New Republic, Gabriel Sherman found reporters complaining that Obama's campaign was "acting like the Prom Queen" and being more secretive than Bush. The magazine quoted the New York Times' Adam Nagourney's reaction to the Obama campaign's memo attacking one of his stories: "I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others."
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Even Bush hasn't tried that. But then again, Obama has been outdoing the president in ruffles and flourishes lately. As Bush held quiet signing ceremonies in the White House yesterday morning, Obama was involved in a more visible display of executive authority a block away, when he met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani at the Willard. A full block of F Street was shut down for the prime minister and the would-be president, and some 40 security and motorcade vehicles filled the street.
President in waiting describes Obama perfectly. But it may also backfire big time. If Independent voters who didn't always respond well to President Bush's swagger don't buy the preening, overreaching hubris of a clearly inexperienced candidate Obama may find it even more difficult to close the sale than he did in the primaries with members of his own party.

And while the first nationwide poll to be completed after Obama's trip showed that voters thought both candidates were arrogant (Obama 37%, McCain 34%) "44 percent said they believed that Obama was "acting as if he had already won the election," far more than the 19 percent who believed that of McCain."

The same poll showed "Every foreign policy and national security issue tested tilts toward McCain: terrorism, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East, Iran, and immigration."

That might also explain why Obama got no real bounce from his trip and that the race remains fundamentally unchanged with Obama holding on to a paper thin lead.

The big question now is will Obama be able to reign in enough of his monstrously oversized ego to fool enough people into thinking he's a humble down to earth guy just like them?

My bet is NO!

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