A Surreal Presidency

In thinking of Barack Obama’s presidency, I can’t help recalling the Comte de Lautréamont’s definition of Surrealism as the quintessence of the Absurd: “the encounter of an umbrella and a sewing-machine on a dissection table.” For this is certainly the most surreal presidency since Jimmy Carter’s, or even Andrew Jackson’s—or, more likely, the most implausible and Absurd administration in the entirety of American history.

Let us see how Lautréamont applies. It is raining debt and joblessness on the United States, but Obama and his crew are protected by an umbrella so vast it resembles Muammar Gaddafi’s tent. Obama enjoys the top job in the country and avails himself lavishly of all its perks, posting as well an annual income in the millions of dollars, over five million in 2009 alone. His cohorts and backers are doing quite proudly too, not to mention Democratic godfather George Soros, one of the world’s richest men. Home foreclosures and job terminations are not an issue for these people, who are good at theoretical empathy and not much else, apart from making the situation even worse than it already is. As for the sewing-machine, it is busy at work stitching a fabric of lies and subterfuges, from global warming to Green energy to cap-and-trade to socialized medicine. And on the dissection table an entire nation is being cut to shreds to the jubilant disbelief of America’s dedicated enemies. The borders are porous, military spending is being reduced, terrorists are Mirandized, geopolitical adversaries are regarded as aggrieved friends-in-waiting and real friends are given the cold shoulder. On the domestic front, genuine popular movements seeking beneficial change are slandered as an army of thugs and seditionists. All this is Surrealism with a vengeance.

Carter and Jackson serve as theatrical analogies. Jimmy Carter, as we all know, was (and is) the archetypal wimp who never met a theocrat he didn’t like and gave us the Iran we know today while eventually selling out to the Saudis, the principal funders of his misnamed Peace Center. Carter was conceivably the worst president in POTUS history until the present incumbent appeared to bring the highest office in the land into turmoil and disrepute. Andrew Jackson, according to his biographer James Parton, was a bundle of contradictions: “A democratic aristocrat. An urbane savage. An atrocious saint.” Founder of the Democratic Party, Jackson was one of the most interesting and selectively dynamic in the almanac of presidential characters, but also one of the most problematic, especially with respect to the institution of slavery. Both Carter and Jackson, each in his own unique way, were spectacles that almost defied credence. Both were made for the Theatre of the Absurd, one a grovelling clown without an iota of reason to his credit and the other a blustering commander who dominated the political proscenium with his personal eccentricities.

They have now been pre-empted by Barack Obama, aided and abetted by an apostolic media that refused to examine his tainted past and divinized him as someone rather more than merely human. One remembers that old joke about the media’s relation to George W. Bush. If he had walked on water, the headlines would have read: “Bush can’t swim.” But with Obama it’s exactly the other way round. If he went for a swim, the headlines would read: “Obama too modest to reveal messianic powers.”

What many have failed to recognize until recently is that Obama is no wonder-worker, no farsighted statesman, no honest broker, no competent chief executive, no bipartisan healer—and in point of fact, he is simply not presidential material at all. Obama has absolutely no idea of how to go about running a country. But it would be a mistake to assume that he is nothing more than an untalented bungler, for he is blessed with thespian aptitudes that none of his predecessors could have mustered. Obama is a man with a résumé so thin it would look sideways head-on, but he is unexcelled as a performer.

Obama is essentially an actor in a kind of Brechtian drama promoting a neo-Marxist ideology, say, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, mixed with robust elements of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. As with Brecht, Obama believes in the redistribution of income as the central program of the welfare state—although Brecht, who wrote in the service of the East German regime, deposited his substantial profits in West German banks, a rather salient item in the current context. At the same time, there is a sense in which Obama resembles Beckett’s elusive Godot who is eagerly awaited but never actually arrives. He intends to show up later in the day, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, but the promise is never realized. Similarly, Obama doesn’t “show up” in any meaningful acceptation of the phrase, as his tardy response to the BP oil spill makes pretty obvious. But it’s more than that: he just doesn’t seem “there” to meet the major challenges of the time with insight, knowledge, intelligence and courage. Obama also mirrors the character Estragon whose trousers fall to his ankles without him noticing it, a fitting end to the play in which the character’s naked ineffectualness and perpetual dithering is finally exposed.

America is now living under the simulated presidency of an impressive actor for whom all the world’s a stage and all the people in it merely suckers. Displaying the quirkiness and ostentation of the inveterate ham, he soliloquizes in Cairo, postures in Copenhagen, preens in Oslo, orates in Washington, warbles “Hey Jude” with a merry singalong gang in the White House, awarding Paul McCartney the Library of Congress Gershwin Award for Popular Song “on behalf of a grateful nation” while the real, neglected nation groans, looks fetchingly troubled when examining oil slick on the Gulf coast, relishes photo-ops and relies on a teleprompter the way actors depend on the souffleur beneath the planks. As president, he manifests on the one hand the futility and ineptitude of Jimmy Carter taken to the nth degree, in particular with regard to the Iranian threat, and on the other the idiosyncratic behavior of Andrew Jackson—though it must be acknowledged, without Jackson’s native gumption and profoundly held convictions.

Indeed, Obama is a weird bird. To be fair, he does bring a parcel of convictions with him, albeit of a distinctly socialist stamp, which he seems determined to impose on a once-largely unsuspecting public. These convictions, however, seem like a kind of ideological stuffing without which he would fold, buckle and collapse on himself. It is as if he needs to have something controversial, something startling to say in order to convince himself, as well as others, that he exists, and requires a platform on which to exercise his repertoire of roles. An utter prima donna, he is so consumed with his own histrionic self, and his ability to adopt whatever pose the situation demands, that he seems nothing so much as an absence made concrete, a flamboyant nullity inadequate to the problems he confronts, adept only at speeches, monologues and striking gestures. As a result, the time inevitably comes when he begins to look inauthentic and faintly ridiculous, and ultimately as unreal as a typical character in an Absurdist play who faces alarmingly incomprehensible predicaments before which he remains helpless and unbuttoned. Such, of course, is the nature of the genre, as it is of this presidency.

The long and the short of it is that Obama’s tenure in the White House will be remembered as a national aberration, a piece of avant-garde theatre and a surreal installment in the far more serious drama of unforgiving realpolitik. Meanwhile, the umbrella is open wide, the sewing machine keeps humming away and a country is laid out flat on the dissection table.

  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    A Surreal Presidency is characterized best by an unknown Czech in one short paragraph:
    http://www.resonoelusono.com/Infamy.htm ,

    or in a recent comprehensive research "The Manchurian President" by Aaron Klein.

    Yet this Surreal Presidency is in fact an illegal presidency:

    • tarleton

      hey alex …you're a DUNCE

  • tarleton

    Obama is a product of his enviroment , his place and time ……the ''american idol'' president , from the american idol generation and many of the people who voted for him , did so, as they would have voted for a contestant on the iconic show…he looks good , has an endearing smile and instead of being able to sing and dance , he can speak well from a teleprompter……a truly clueless President from a TRULY clueless generation
    In a democracy you get the goverment you deserve and Obama is the poison fruit of 40 years of malignant Hollywood trash culture

    • posse 101

      Well said tarleton!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/EricTheRed EricTheRed

      Well said. Jason Mattera made this case in his book "Obama Zombies"

    • cochavi1

      This has a very 'Osher Doctorow' ring to it, and is basically true.

      • Rifleman

        I wonder where Doc went, and I hope he's okay. As with your posts, I didn't always agree with him, but I enjoyed reading most of his posts and could almost always understand and support his old school conservative views over most of the alternatives.

    • tarleton

      But it's worse than that ….Obama is the MILLI VINILLI president and a complete fraud …..even the idiots are going to realize that he's a preening pretentious poseur doing a mime act …..sooner or later Obama will end up like those two jerks …EXPOSED !

    • Lori

      We truly tarleton, Have A president that is clueless,what is so sad is he does it to himself as well as all people around him,,,,,,,, He make believes as A child,and can only try to escape from himself in Idolizing himself to others to get approval or acceptance of who he is, He is the type that will end up putting A bullet in his own head.So sad to see…………………………………………. Oh how he will end up who knows but God save his soul.

  • Dan

    Obama the entertainer — A circus clown gone wild with everybodys time and money. Elephants do not know how to react to the lions and tigers the clown let loose.

  • ze-ev ben jehudah

    Mr Barack Hussein Obama,better known as mr No Brains,is a dangerous
    person who is destroying the good name of the free world and is endangering
    the so called peace we have.But there is more to it than just being dumb,he is
    a demagoque with dictatorial properties who dagerously approaches that of
    a former dictator of Italy. Same posture and head movements,and saying a
    lot by saying nothing.He should be removed from office.And finaly, I still have
    not seen his birth certificate to determine if he has been born in the U.S.A.
    why is that? I wonder.

    • Jim C.

      Mr. No Brains secured 20 billion for victims of the BP spill in one day. What would your dumb ass have done?

      • Stan

        Mr. No Brains is also trying to stop offshore drilling for oil. Where do reckon the US is going to get its oil if he succeeds – out of your dumb ass?

  • Tao Jones

    There is little chance those partially responsible for having put Mr. Obama where he has no business being (the 'small' people who voted for him, not the evildoers behind his llife and career) will ever admit that they made a horrific mistake. This doesn't mean that right thinking people should ever forget who and what made this affirmative action a—–e what he is today… America's biggest unforced error.

    Carter was an amateur compared to this PO(tu)S.

  • davecatbone

    We'll never be rid of this know it all…..like Carter, he'll be sniping from the sidelines the rest of his life, and the Enemedia will be his bullhorn.

    • guestspeaker

      Oh M'gosh dvb, I thought we would be rid of the Clinton's after his 8 years but I was wrong wasn't I? I've learned so much since those days.

      I've come to understand that the US Presidency is the world's pee-tree dish where the evils of the world are cultivated. Why should the US have any influence over Israel? Israel is a sovereign nation.
      The Manchurian President has been 'cultivated' and dressed up in a suit & tie, after signing the Contract with the nwo people, is taking his orders from the chief of staff/others. Foreigners are ruling this nation.

      If anyone wants to know 'when' the white house was openly breached, you may want to read 'UNLIMITED ACCESS' by the FBI guy Gary Aldridge. He explains the way it was in the Clinton White House, when 'vetting' died and the White House became the playground for all sorts of dishonorable activities. Remember, the seeds of those days have grown and matured and 'they're baaaaaaaack! At least Clinton had to prove himself as a functional traitor when he was the Governor of Arkansas, working for Bush Sr. and Oliver North ('Compromised' by Terri Reed).

      Woe is me.

  • Janice Penta

    Obama is a radical leftist who poses as a moderate leftist. And the Democratic leftists who occupy the House and Senate back him and enthusiastically pass "health care reform", "financial reform", and will try for oil drill bans and "energy reform" etc. Pretty much every bill they pass make me cringe. They constantly make things worse.
    So many of the population knows zero about what the Democratics are about except that they are the "santa claus party" of handouts. So much of the population doesn't know anything about economics. This includes the ignorant, and also the well-read who get their news from the New York Times.

  • Cuban Refugee

    Recently, B. Hussein has reminded me of "El Presidente" — Woody Allen's comic protagonist in "Bananas" — who demanded in a speech that citizens of San Marcos wear their underwear on the outside their clothes. We no longer have Howard Cosell's humorous Wide World of Sports reportage to cover Obama's farcical presidency, but the still sycophantic media, with few exceptions, are providing a similar absurd and bizarre view of Chicago's takeover of Washington and the nation. The only difference is that, this time, we are not sitting in a theater laughing until we cry; the reality and sham of this malignant, fraudulent POTUS has hit our collective solar plexus to divest us of hope and fill us with the fear of tyranny. Perhaps the projectionist will turn on the klieg lights of change in this theater if enough audience members scream, "Impeach Obama for Malfeasance in Office and Treason!!!"

  • al Kidya

    It seems to me that he is a playboy king in a Presidential office that lied his way all the way to the top. America you fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Now you're stuck with it.
    As a matter of fact the world is stuck with him…as in Hollywood; he does have the Titanic dream of becoming "king of the world".

  • Chloe

    Some of the points made in this post might be worth reading, but they are drowned in extreme bias – a lot of insults and conclusions without preceding facts to back them up. My eyes spot that and then glaze over. Be careful talking about actors, subterfuge, speeches and nullity since much of this post brings Reagan to mind.

    And bringing up Andrew Jackson in a post about Obama, and recalling that he was called an urbane savage was PLAINLY a racist dig at Obama. You are just proving what Democrats say about Republicans, that they can't stand having a black president.

    • Nancy

      I could stand having a black President with not problem. Just not THIS black President.

    • donnamarie

      There goes the race card again. Do you know anything about Andrew Jackson? When things get above you libs, use the race card. Try again. This is a critique of the Obama presidency. While he doesn't give complete examples-like his running off to win the Olympics; his dinner in NY; all of the golf he plays; his pandering to the muslim world; his failure to actually get out of the wars that are so bad; his inability to really close Gitmo; the gulf disaster and his dithering there….shall I go on. Anyone who reads this article knows exactly what this author is talking about. Where have you been?

      • guestspeaker

        He panders to the Muslim world because he is a Muslim. That's one of the reasons he was chosen to play this part.

        He's a power monger. He sells the power of the US to those wanting a piece of the action from around the world. During this last hooray, these retreads are going to steal Billions, sell us out completely and leave our carcasses wherever we fall!
        The only way to stop them is to stop purchasing things and purchasing shares in the stock market. Unfortunately, this will not happen on a large enough scale-we're spoiled.

    • Dugri

      Chloe, you are a pathetic, blithering imbecile whose stupid nattering is indicative of how and why a completely unprepared, racist, "reverend" Wright-listening, Saul Alinsky-worshipping, affirmative action-enabled, America non-loving, Israel-destroying, absurd nonentity managed to fool the American public into allowing him to stain the White House with his presence.

    • http://theglow.110mb.com Jacques

      I would vote for the following blacks for President:
      Thomas Sowell
      Walter Williams
      Shelby Steele
      I would not vote for the following whites for President
      Nancy Pelosi
      Hillary Clinton
      Harry Reid.
      So does that make me an anti-white racist?

    • http://www.myspace.com/megapotamus megapotamus

      I'm not sure how "urbane savage" is a racial insult, especially as it referenced Andrew Jackson explicitly. Of course no real connection need be made. Any reference to Obama that proves troublesome, even complimentary ones like from Biden, is ruled racist ex poste facto. The real question is, what is presumptively wrong with being a racist? Barack was in a racist cult for twenty years and everyone seemed to think that was just lovely, the only defense being that he was attending for cynical political reasons. If acceptance of that isn't the soft bigotry of low expectations it is something worse. Much worse.

    • JSM

      So you're saying that Andrew Jackson was racist because he called Obama an Urbane Savage?

  • Mike Smith, M.A.

    he's a hate-whitey, hate-America affirmative action nothing, who never ran anything but his mouth. Tom Brokaw on inauguration day said, "Take THAT, white America".
    We'll be lucky he doesn't get us all killed.
    Mike Smith, M.A.
    Kelly's Cove
    San Francisco

  • donnamarie

    About this article, during the time of his inauguration I have said over and over again, "When is someone going to realize that this emperor has no clothes?" I mean, when the whole crowd whispers it to one another and believes it. He is very scary and most emphatically YES, this presidence is surreal.

  • USMCSniper

    Obama is inexperienced and incompetent. In the private sector, if a person is found to be not up to the job he was hired for, he is let go. Barring tragedy or blatant malfeasance, Barack Obama will be in the White House for next four years. Let's put a Republican congress and senate in 2010 to limits his damage and send him packing on 2012.

    • Steven Laib

      Absolutely, for if we do not, he will not be remembered as an absurd chapter in American politics because there will be no America any longer

  • Isadore D

    The quote from Lautreamont was NOT his definition of the "absurd". This may not have much to to do with the content of the article, but any reader of "absurd" literature, the surreal and/or Lautreamont specifically, would recognize that it is this kind of pseudo-intellectual gilding of the same old pap that the chance encounter on the vivisection table hopes to de-stabilize . . . it is absurd that surrealism is evoked at all in this context; surrealism at best is defiantly political, so a surreal presidency seems like a good thing to me, especially given the apathetic acceptance of evil and ignorance that provides the framework that absurd art endeavors to destroy . . . such banal and insipid discourse is precisely the thing Lautreamont sought to eradicate in his work; alas, to be resurrected within this context? Wow. I thought I'd have something more to say, but wikipedia is down, so I can't adorn my argument with a de-contextualized quote that simultaneously undermines my argument while illuminating the vacuity of it . . .

    • donnamarie

      Blah, blah, blah, blah……. Yea, wikipedia that bastion of anyone who wants to add something can do so. You know, at the school my kids go to they are not allowed to cite wikipedia as an authority on anything.

      • Isadore D

        I was being sarcastic, donnamarie, poking fun at the foolish use (and incorrect contextualization thereof) of a quote that was most likely culled from wikipedia . . . but don't knock wikipedia. No, it's not necessary the final work on anything, but to assume that what our kids' schools consider "authoritative" are, in fact, sound sources/references, is as dangerous as wrenching a quote from an obscure 19th-century author out of context and affiixing it to polemical drivel masqerading as intellectual discourse. . . your kids' school's notion of democratic intellectual engagement trumps wikipedia? or doesn't it potentially forestall genuine intellectual interrogation to deny one the option of purusing one's own quest for answers/information?

        • Isadore D

          It's about accountability, intelligent accountability at that. But what do I expect, trying to engage in genuine intellecutal debate in a forum like this that genuinely balks at honest discourse of any kind?!?! Rant and rave 'til we fall over in drown in a pool of our collective vitriol . . . rage, rage, rage! Everything is so black and white, liberals are all fools, and y'all got it all figured out . . . everything is big O's fault? You morons have no complicity in the stupidity of the world? And this is your contribution to the debate?

    • donnamarie

      The truth is Isadore D-your blather makes little to no sense to me. The fact is that something is surreal if it is has the irrationality of a dream or is unbelieveable. It is actually very simple. That you want to make it a discourse on whether Lautreamont's quote was used correctly is absolutely laughable to me and then go on like you are some superior philosopher schooled in the intricacies of the absurd. You appear disgusted that someone would use the concept of surrealism as to discuss the issue of Obama's presidency. If you have been observing his presidency through the clear eyes of fact and logic you would appreciate this article.

      • Cuban Refugee


  • TheHammer

    HL Mencken said it best,

    "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard"

    Well, we are certainly getting it with this inept fool in the White House.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/roywil roywil

    Right (and well written) on all counts.

    But what is REALLY surrealistically terrifying is, despite all of Obama's ineptitude and left-wing torpedoing of the Constitution and democratic principles, about 50% of those polled still approve of his presidency. Now THAT'S scary.

    This anonymous quote says it best:

    "The danger to America is not Barack Obama. He is merely a symptom of what ails us. The real threat to the republic is an impolitic majority capable of entrusting such a demagogue with the presidency.

    "Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the confederacy of fools who willingly made him their prince–and our president. Ultimately, this gullible flock of voters, if allowed to endure, will be much harder to overcome than follies of a temporary Obama presidency."

    • Jim C.

      I can't stand when people do the "Both parties suck" thing, but let's face it–it's not like the Republicans have anything to brag about.

      The TEA party is right to be angry–they're just angry with the wrong people. Until we come to grips with the notion that we, the people, are not in control of this country anymore–and that an amoral corporate oligarchy with no particular loyalties is calling the shots–we WILL have surrealism and absurdity in perpetuity.

  • Brett

    From the moment I heard that he sat through 20 years of Jeramiah Wrights sermons & didnt have a problem with it, thats all I needed to know about Obummer. Nothing this guy does surprises me at all. If you really need to know more just read his playbook "Rules for Radicals" & you will get the gist of where we are headed if you havent figured it out yet. Unless of course we throw him & his minions out of office in the next two elections.

  • Arius

    Hopefully the big BO will be out to pasture after the 2012 election, but he will leave the country more divided than ever. He will leave us immensely damaged.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/polipath polipath

    "… he is simply not presidential material at all. Obama has absolutely no idea of how to go about running a country."
    Most certainly the case. Obama is a figurehead put into place by Dark Forces to keep the masses distracted with his mellifluous oratory while they morph the country into a contemporary version of Fascist Italy.

  • quonsettent

    Great article and it would be a good addition to Wikipedia on Barack Obama. Maybe we should all chip in and send Obama some clown shoes or better yet throw them at him since he is a Muslim. I think it would be appropriate.

  • Thunder

    communism in making, 2010

  • sonoftompaine

    This article SURREAL PRESIDENT by DAVID SOLWAY truly Stands an important Test !
    This is one article I feel driven to give to friends I love, BUT who are still in DENIAL over
    the criminal activities of the man called president. I am a new David Solway fan, too.
    I already have open communication to my realistic friends who cannot tolerate fiscal
    robbery, and send frequent solid artciles like this great one, to them all. But, again, THIS
    one needs to be shown to the most hard headed collectivist, statist, socialistic mob.



  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WilliamJWard WilliamJamesWard

    America has woken up from its hangover and the party is over, everyone is wondering
    who put the acid in the crack pipe and just what happened, the rest of us who saw
    the upcoming problems and voted no on this guy are working hard to undo what
    has been done. Obama was always a joke to me and I never saw anything there,
    so it is hard for me to relate except I see a fraud and wonder what the hell was
    everyone thinking.Crooked in and crooked out………….William

    • http://www.myspace.com/megapotamus megapotamus

      Can you smoke acid?

  • http://www.myspace.com/megapotamus megapotamus

    Oddly, I find myself the voice of optimism lately. In my view, certainly Obama is ideologically driven but he is not that alone. He is above all a man of ambition. Can the disastrous policies dictated by that vapid thing we know as American Liberalism deliver the goods to the populace? No. Therefore it cannot deliver the goods to Obama either. To save his own hide he will mitigate his socialistic tendencies once the pip squeaks. I know it seems unlikely but remember that this man of no previous career has never had his grammar school politics challenged before and is quite young by world leader standards. Does anyone think Clinton was any less of a Liberal than Obama? No, he was just more pragmatic. But not by choice. The eternal rules of politics and economy are still in play.

  • Junior

    "polipath 21p "
    Figure head is the word I would use as well. A puppet for Soros and the morally bankrupt progressives that could care less about the country they would leave to their children as long as they get their share of the cash.

    The media, useful idiots all, has let us down big time. Their progressive bias and votes are the rope to which they will be hanged. Socialism isn't exactly a walk in the park, Lenin died and along with him his "moderate" even handedness paved the way for someone like Uncle Joe Stalin to come to power and do serious damage to the country. Millions died as the result.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tar_n_Feathers Tar_n_Feathers

    While I enjoy the occasional art reference, I've seen the Obama Administration, and it ain't art. And attaching art school terminology to the prez gives him an aesthetic dimension that he doesn't deserve. May I suggest a different medium, such as some retro-icon from the old days of television. I have a much easier time visualizing Obama as some goofy Batman villain. Egghead, for instance the self-proclaimed "smartest criminal in the world" (played by Vincent Price). For my money, something like that works a lot better than "Commander-in-Chief Descending a Staircase – No.2."

  • Ted

    I've seen this coming for 44 years. Growing up in Oakland, I was told every day by my classmates that it would come to this, and that I better be happy about it!