I wrote most of this as a comment over at MCJ, but it got long enough that I decided it was good enough to post here. Anyway, Christopher Johnson is appalled at the callous way Obama talks about how America “can absorb a terrorist attack.” Christopher Johnson says:
The coldness of that remark is what horrifies me. We’re talking about human beings here. Yet that quote seems to treat people like poker chips. Hey, I can afford to lose this much of my stack and still be in a position to take down the whole pot.
I agree it’s pretty horrible. But it doesn’t surprise me. I’m used to it, or rather the attitude behind it. It’s like this:
Obama is like a lot of people of his (my — he’s only a couple of years older than me) generation: he doesn’t see people outside his family as being fully human, or perhaps a better way to phrase it is that he doesn’t see them as fully existing the way he and the small group of people he has come to value (like his wife and kids) do. It’s a pre-Christian, in fact a pre-pagan outlook. (For example, the ancient Romans became aware enough of the human value of non-Romans to offer them citizenship.) The only people you really owe any kind of protection to without some sort of reciprocal deed are your close family members. He doesn’t seem to care much for people outside his nuclear family; they’re useful when he needs some African relatives to show off, but then they can go back to their lives of poverty. You don’t have friends; you have associations with people who are or can be useful to you. Does Obama have any real friends, by which I mean the classic term: someone you like to do things with for the pleasure of their company, someone who would do things for you for no reward other than your friendship. He doesn’t have any that I know of. I can’t imagine that Ayres guy is a friend; he’s an ally, maybe. You aren’t a citizen of a country — where you were born you had no control over and that only makes you resent it. At best your native land, or the land you were made to grow up in, better provide you with the best living possible, which it owes you. You, however, owe it nothing.
Obama’s mindset is not unique. I’ve met a lot of people like that in my life. Their most important relationship is who they are sleeping with (not necessarily a spouse) or if they have kids that’s the most important relationship. Friendships come and go, none of them serious or dependable. If you aren’t having sex with that person or they haven’t come out of your womb/issued from your seed you don’t have to really care about them. However, status is very important. Friendship is replaced with constant jockeying for power. Among Obama’s crowd of rich liberals it’s the sort of SWPL games like who has the best collection of folk art to show how multicultural they are, or how many ethnic restaurants they go to per week, or have they traded in their Volvo for a Prius yet. Really rich people of this group get a pass, though; they can own all the land yachts they want because they have enough money to donate to the right Dem pols.
It’s also about sounding good is a fine substitute for doing good. The old “deeds not words” way of life is too hard, because you might get your hands dirty and worse you might fail and then look like a fool. Also words are a great way to show off how smart you are and that you’re not a jock. It’s all about high school in the end. Also you can impress your fellow not-jocks with your bravery and toughness without actually doing something disturbingly physical like fighting. This is why phrases like “we can absorb a terrorist attack” come flowing out of Obama like… like some sort of flowing stuff. He thinks it makes him sound like a tough guy, and also like the sort of Zen master that just shrugs a bit and the arrows just miss him by that much. And those imaginary Americans who are actually doing the absorbing of the terrorist attack don’t matter, they are abstractions; because he’s not married to them and they aren’t his kids. What have we elected to be our president: this is it. A common, everyday nihilist.
Update: I decided the original comment had too many parentheses, and some clumsy phrases, which I have removed here, and I added a couple of things.
Second update: somewhat related. Minor petty inconveniences threaten personality death, but the threat of violent tragedy is merely an opportunity to show off your hipster buzzkill cred.