Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Michael Corleone, President Obama and How Men Become What They Despise

 

“That’s my family, Kay. It’s not me.” — Michael Corleone, The Godfather

MichaelcoreleoneMichael Corleone, like Senator Obama, was the new man, the pinnacle and fulfillment of Western Civilization. He would save us from the simplistic brutes of yesteryear. Instead, like a French or Russian revolutionary, he became that which he despised.

Michael was naive regarding the world around him, regarding actions and unintended consequences. He was a sideline critic, an armchair general who theorized about how the doers of deeds could have done them better. When in the arena himself, he understood and adopted his father’s ways.

He was also naive regarding himself. Michael was always his father’s son. His brutishness was simply expressed in more civilized contexts. Long before assuming power, he was firm, dominant, and always got his way. He was sure of his righteousness only because of a naivete regarding the darkness in his own soul.

Part is weakness of character. When the stakes got real, he chose interests over ethics.

Which brings us to, as one Salon author put it, “that dreamy African-American senator who opposed the war in Iraq who looked so magical eight years ago.” 

Obama’s foreign policy naiveté collided with the real world’s complexities. Not being George W Bush may win you a Nobel Peace Prize, but it doesn’t liberate the world into a kinder and gentler state.

His journey from the senator who would unite the nation to the president who tore it apart combines all three problems. Ryan Lizza writes of the character flaws 

“In early October, 2007, David Axelrod and Obama’s other political consultants wrote the candidate a memo explaining how he could repair his floundering campaign against Hillary Clinton. They advised him to attack her personally, presenting a difficult choice for Obama. He had spent years building a reputation as a reformer who deplored the nasty side of politics, and now, he was told, he had to put that aside. Obama’s strategists wrote that all campaign communications, even the slogan—”Change We Can Believe In”—had to emphasize distinctions with Clinton on character rather than on policy. The slogan “was intended to frame the argument along the character fault line, and this is where we can and must win this fight,” the memo said.

President Obama has always had a masterful style to character assassination. Nobody does mocking and derisive better, while maintaining an “above the fray” pose. “You’re likable enough” was a masterstroke.

But perhaps Lizza is mistaken when he presents this as a big moral dilemma. Lizza notes that “His ascent from law professor to President in a decade was marked by a series of political decisions that undercut some of his claims on the subject of partisanship and political reform.”

Obama was always a manipulative politician with a gift for character attacks. Indeed, these skills allowed him to win our highest office. They were on full display in his great unification speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention — the speech that rocketed him to national fame — declaring “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America … there’s not a black America and white America … there’s the United States of America!”

“Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?” is a cynical and manipulative way to imply that your political opponents are cynical manipulators.

“John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies …” was a nice way of hinting that maybe Americans were being sent to die for corporate oil profits. Likewise, Obama’s claim later in that speech that Kerry “… will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us” was a nice way of using faith as a wedge to divide us.

Perhaps, once in office, President Obama found the politics of hope and bipartisanship to be more challenging than he expected. But perhaps he has always been cynical, mocking, and manipulative. Or, as he put it:

 … As we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Indeed.

Image Credit: “Michaelcoreleone” Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Michael Corleone” href=”//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Michaelcoreleone.jpg”>Fair use via Wikipedia.

There are 12 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. KC Mulville Inactive

    The phrase “under the bus” was a constant in the 2008 campaign and early in his presidency. He uses people, uses events (no catastrophe gone to waste), and ultimately has “used” the presidency.

    • #1
    • September 2, 2014, at 7:27 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. Profile Photo Member

    I will say that Obama taught me the meaning the phrase, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” I don’t know how Hillary fell for it, except that she didn’t think she’s be running again when she took the Secretary of State position in 2009.

    • #2
    • September 2, 2014, at 9:23 AM PDT
    • Like
  3. Gil Reich Inactive
    Gil Reich

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    I will say that Obama taught me the meaning the phrase, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” I don’t know how Hillary fell for it, except that she didn’t think she’s be running again when she took the Secretary of State position in 2009.

    I think it made sense for Hillary to take the Secretary of State job. Added to her resume. And I think she always knew exactly who Obama was (and I don’t know if she’s much different herself).

    • #3
    • September 2, 2014, at 9:33 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    I disagree. He has been taught Communism, Marxism and Socialism since he was a child. All require sneaky lying. Then he became a ‘community organizer’, a.k.a. shake-down-artist, and a teacher of Sal Alinsky tactics. In short, he has practiced “cynicism” his whole life.

    He never became what he despised because he was always that way.

    • #4
    • September 2, 2014, at 9:40 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gil Reich: He was sure of his righteousness only because of a naivete regarding the darkness in his own soul.

    Love this. Stealing it.

    I sounded like Meg Ryan in the cafe scene of “When Harry Met Sally” while reading this post. “Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!”

    • #5
    • September 2, 2014, at 9:59 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. Gil Reich Inactive
    Gil Reich

    Thanks Western Chauvinist

     

    • #6
    • September 2, 2014, at 10:10 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. Gil Reich Inactive
    Gil Reich

    JimGoneWild:

    … he has practiced “cynicism” his whole life.

    He never became what he despised because he was always that way.

     I agree Jim. That was essentially my conclusion, sorry if I wasn’t clear enough.

    • #7
    • September 2, 2014, at 10:12 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    Gil Reich: That was essentially my conclusion, sorry if I wasn’t clear enough.

    You were clear. It was a rhetorical statement more than a true disagreement. Maybe I wasn’t clear.

    • #8
    • September 2, 2014, at 10:25 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. Profile Photo Member

    Gil Reich:

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    I will say that Obama taught me the meaning the phrase, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” I don’t know how Hillary fell for it, except that she didn’t think she’s be running again when she took the Secretary of State position in 2009.

    I think it made sense for Hillary to take the Secretary of State job. Added to her resume. And I think she always knew exactly who Obama was (and I don’t know if she’s much different herself).

     The problem is that you get tied to the Administration. If things go well, that’s OK, up to a point (although you lose your independence as an employee of the president.) If things go in the tank, you’re in trouble. Think of the thorn in his side she would be in the Senate now.

    • #9
    • September 2, 2014, at 11:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. Gil Reich Inactive
    Gil Reich

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    ..

    The problem is that you get tied to the Administration. If things go well, that’s OK, up to a point (although you lose your independence as an employee of the president.) If things go in the tank, you’re in trouble. Think of the thorn in his side she would be in the Senate now.

    True. The world blowing up on her watch was bad for her image. Not sure how much of that is her fault vs his. But, whatever she’s in politics for (to do good, fame, fortune, grease the wheels for Chelsea …) success as Secretary of State would have been more valuable than another Senate term.

    • #10
    • September 2, 2014, at 11:27 AM PDT
    • Like
  11. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    Gil Reich:

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    I will say that Obama taught me the meaning the phrase, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” I don’t know how Hillary fell for it, except that she didn’t think she’s be running again when she took the Secretary of State position in 2009.

    I think it made sense for Hillary to take the Secretary of State job. Added to her resume. And I think she always knew exactly who Obama was (and I don’t know if she’s much different herself).

    The problem is that you get tied to the Administration. If things go well, that’s OK, up to a point (although you lose your independence as an employee of the president.) If things go in the tank, you’re in trouble. Think of the thorn in his side she would be in the Senate now.

     This presumes Democrats ever suffer the consequences of their politics. They don’t. Proof in two words: Ted Kennedy.

    • #11
    • September 2, 2014, at 12:38 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Profile Photo Member

    Western Chauvinist:

    This presumes Democrats ever suffer the consequences of their politics. They don’t. Proof in two words: Ted Kennedy.

     Senators face few consequences than executives. One reason Hillary should have stayed in the Senate. And Ted Kennedy was never elected president.

    She should also have anticipated the possibility of Obama-fatigue (i.e. people tired of Obama, not Obama being tired of the job).

    Obama could have done nothing more to constrain her ambitions than stripping her of her independence and making her his employee. And I think that is a brilliant Corleone-esque move (to bring this back on topic).

    • #12
    • September 2, 2014, at 1:46 PM PDT
    • Like

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.