Meet a president who flip-flops his persona on an almost day-to-day basis.
Every scandal that severely damages a politician starts with a lie. Watergate wasn’t about a break-in; it was about President Nixon’s lies. Monicagate wasn’t about sex; it was about President Clinton’s perjury. Even the left’s favored slogans about the Iraq War were based on that premise: “Bush Lied, Soldiers Died.”
But the Oval Office has never seen a prevaricator quite like President Obama.
President Obama has forged his entire political career around his ability to be whatever others want him to be. As Obama himself put it in his second autobiography, The Audacity of Hope, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their views.” But Obama isn’t just a blank screen: he is a Magic Mirror.
That’s why Obama has routinely puffed up and bulked out his autobiography, pandering to different audiences based on political necessity. While other politicians may craft their messages to appeal to diverse groups, Obama crafts himself. Many politicians flip-flop; Obama is the only politician who flip-flops on his own biography.
Hence the importance of the fact that Obama’s literary agency when he was trying to sell a book stated he was “born in Kenya” – and that Obama allowed that biography to go uncorrected for 16 years, until after he launched his campaign for the presidency.
In his early life, it helped Obama to lie about himself in terms of race. He admits to it in Dreams From My Father: “I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.”
As he entered college, it helped Obama to craft himself as an exotic international, as David Maraniss reported in Vanity Fair. So he did.
In his post-college career, it helped Obama to portray himself as a racial radical, someone who could be comfortable in the pews of Jeremiah Wright and the company of Derrick Bell, but wouldn’t be comfortable with a white composite girlfriend he created in Dreams From My Father. And so he became that man.
It also helped him to be seen as a class warrior, the kind of fellow who had given up a burgeoning Wall Street career to fight for the poverty-stricken underclass – which is why, in Dreams From My Father, he neglects to mention that the Wall Street firm for which he worked, Business International Group, was essentially a tiny sweatshop, that he never climbed the food chain, and that he remained a low-level worker for the brief period of time he was there.
As his career progressed, it benefited Obama to portray himself as a moderate. That’s when he crafted his life into a story of a unified America rather than a divided America. In his earlier period, in Dreams, Obama indicted American society for “the tragedy” of his “mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds.” In his later period, by the time he was running for president, he’d claim that his racial background was an embodiment of America’s dedication to racial equality.
As Obama might put it today, a man can “evolve.”
But as President of the United States, he flip-flops his persona on an almost day-to-day basis. Even his name is subject to such vagaries. Thus President Obama complains during his 2008 run about people using his middle name, brags about it in Cairo in 2009, then complains about it again on The View in 2012 when he falls behind in the polls. This isn’t coincidence. It’s strategy.
Americans typically believe that a man willing to lie about his life is willing to lie about everything else, too – and Obama is proof positive of that fact. Obama clearly lied during the campaign, over and over again: he promised a transparent administration, a lobbyist-free administration, a fiscally responsible administration; he promised to close Guantanamo Bay, restore America’s image abroad, reform the Patriot Act, and strengthen our military.
But it’s not just unfulfilled campaign promises, many of which were never meant seriously. It’s that he has lied to America and her allies in order to ram through his agenda.
When speaking with Israel supporters, Obama has “Israel’s back,” but Obama’s Defense Department happily leaks any information that could complicate an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Obama himself provides active support to the Islamist Winter now descending over the Middle East. When talking to Americans about his health care policy, he assures them that healthcare costs will be lowered – but then, after the policy is passed, he tells MSNBC that he knew such costs would rise. When talking to Americans about his oil policy, he says he’s all for oil drilling – but then he takes every measure he can to prevent serious energy exploration, and wastes billions on the chimera of green energy.
No wonder so many Americans see Barack Obama as someone who will say anything to achieve his ends, which are largely narcissistic in nature. And that has always been true of him. The man who manipulates his own identity is a man who will manipulate everyone around him, too. And finally manipulate the truth itself.
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