…Barack Obama reminds me of me.
I have a well-above average IQ. In the podunk-town high school I attended in east Texas, that put me at the top of the “smarts” list. The result was that I learned to coast. Even in high school, I was coasting — I rarely turned in or even did my homework, confident that when test time came I would easily overcome the deficit, and I was usually right. Based on the work I actually did I probably shouldn’t have graduated at all, but thanks to indulgent teachers and last-minute makeups I ended up eleventh out of, IIRC, 83 graduates. At no time did I ever put in any significant amount of work.
Then came college.
You probably know the rest. It turns out that this is a fairly common pattern among big frogs in small ponds, whether it has to do with intelligence, athletic ability, musical talent, or simply being the biggest bully in the schoolyard. Abruptly thrust into the larger pond, the frog discovers not only that he isn’t the biggest, there are carp in there! The bright kid, the hero quarterback, and the soprano who wowed ’em at the First Baptist Church get a rude awakening — if they’re lucky. Many of them, including me, never overcome the deficit incurred during the years of coasting, and their achievements are modest if they achieve anything.
That’s our Barry, you know. He’s never been challenged, never had to put in the effort that lesser beings have to exert, and like me he never learned to put in the effort.
Mama may have been a hippie chick with a taste for black Marxist men, but she didn’t lack for funds to support her youngun’, so he never learned to work for a living. Papa took him off to a third-world country, where the stuff a resident of a major industrial society picks up by osmosis put him head and shoulders above his classmates. When he came back to Hawai’i and his homework was too hard, Mama did it for him.
He got in to an Ivy League university, where a combination of race preferences, teachers who indulged him because he had politically mature views, and his undoubted talent for smooth, slick fast talk gave him what amounts to a free ride (you’ll notice his transcripts are still guarded by dire wolves).
In Chicago, the people he was around discovered a treasure: a bright, articulate guy without the belligerent “I’m black!” attitude that cripples so many inner-city residents, an ideal front man for whatever machinations went on behind him. He was never a “bag man”, as some have claimed — being a bag man is work! — he was a “mouthpiece”, somebody who could sit on committees and address public and Government gatherings and impress the audience without saying much, while the real work of deal-making, graft-peddling, and log-rolling got done behind the scenes. He never actually did the political maneuvering; somebody else did, using him as a Muppet for the folks to look at and distract attention from the nasty bits. As in high school, if things got too tough he had plenty of help available. A front man with an Ivy League education is even more valuable if he’s written a book, so he set out to do that, but he couldn’t stick to the job long enough to finish, and somebody else did it for him.
Now he’s President of the United States. One of the things about that job is that it has to be done — if the President sloughs it off, nothing happens. There’s nobody behind the scenes to take care of the horrid bits, the work, for him. Oh, there are plenty of “assistants” and “aides” for the donkey-work, but Truman wasn’t accepting responsibility, he was acknowledging the truth: the buck does stop on that desk in the Oval Office, and signing the slip and passing it on doesn’t work. It doesn’t help that the aides and assistants he’s picked are either from the same demographic, single-focused wonks like Axelrod, or nonentities like Biden.
One of the characteristic behaviors of us underachievers is avoidance. When the going gets hard, we go away — we look for something, anything, else to do instead; for instance, I should be finishing up the books for my failed business and packing up the stuff, but I’m blogging instead. Obama’s a classic case: not talking to McCrystal (Afghanistan is hard), not helping Pelosi and Reid get the program through, not, in fact, doing much of anything to carry out the duties of his office. Instead he jets off to Copenhagen or takes the kids to the seashore, where he can pose for photographers, take fluff questions from the assembled paparazzi, and generally glory in his exalted status without actually doing anything to justify it.
Classic case, I tell you. Too bad he wasn’t a sports star instead. He could have run the Chevy dealership from an office full of mementos of his days as a star quarterback for Moanalua High, and spent Friday nights cheering the home team and ogling the teen-age cheerleaders, and been a small but real contributor to society.