The people Obama doesn’t see

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.

16 thoughts on “The people Obama doesn’t see

  1. david foster

    I think your analysis of Obama and the type of people that are his core supporters is right on. However, I feel the need to analyze why “America can absorb a terrorist attack” differs from the British WWII mantra “London can take it” (at the time of the Blitz). One obvious difference is that the Brits were very much in a lets-fight-back mood (as demonstrated by what happened to Hamburg, Dresden, et al), whereas Obama clearly has no such instincts. Any other thoughts?

    1. aelfheld

      Britain was fighting a threat to its existence.

      America, somewhat under Bush, moreso under Obama, is trying to ‘manage’ the threat.

      Resistance versus passive-aggressive accommodation.

    2. david foster

      aelfheld…many people at the time argued that Nazi Germany was *not* a threat to Britain’s existence..even in June 1940…just as many “progressives” after 9/11 have argued that radical Islamic terrorism is not a serious threat to the U.S. Indeed, Hitler would certainly have agreed to peace with Britain in exchange for the latter giving him a free hand in Europe and Russia, and certain potential Prime Ministers, maybe Lord Halifax, would have done just that. (Of course, 5 years later, after Germany had consolidated its position on the Continent and points East, things might have looked pretty dark for Britain, and us too, but hey…most politicians like to kick the can down the road.

    3. aelfheld

      david foster, I don’t think anyone argued that “Nazi Germany was *not* a threat to Britain’s existence” “at the time of the Blitz”.

  2. david foster

    Thought of one other distinction “absorb a terrorist attack” is more bloodless than “can take it.” The second sounds like something a boxer might say; the first is more like something a mediocre sportswriter might say in describing the boxer.

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  4. aelfheld

    One minor note: Obama seems to have no particular attachment to his immediate family. Recall the ease with which he condemned his maternal grandmother (“typical white person”) for minor political advantage.

    1. Andrea Harris Post author

      People like Obama don’t think of parents and grandparents as “immediate” family. Rather, they are the previous generation, which must in a certain sense be rejected. “Immediate family” are 1) people who have sex with you that you have “bonded” with (can be spouse or “partner”) and 2) people you have “made” — that is, your kids.

  5. SPQR

    The mentality is also one of Obama not wanting to be bothered with what Americans think is his job. It gets in the way of what he wants to do.

    The guy just has done nothing for the past year and half other than show disdain for how inconvenient the job is.

  6. Spud

    Common nihilist … nice.
    Nihilism: a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.

    That about sums him up. The US has been so bad for so long that somebody needs to go in there and get rid of all that “junk”, leaving hope and change in its wake.

    I have to wonder if his “can absorb a terrorist attack” comment is an end around to get rid of the wiretaps and extra security measures (enacted by Bush) that his liberal friends find so horrifying. No need for extra surveillance if terrorist attacks are “annoyances”. No need to keep Gitmo open it a terrorist attack can be absorbed.

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