Stay with me on this one. We're going to start low but end high. Trust me.
First, let's get on with the low. Peggy Noonan on Barack Hussein Obama:
I don’t know if we sufficiently understand how weird and strange, how historically unparalleled, this presidency has become. We’ve got a sitting president who was just judged in a major poll to be the worst since World War II. The worst president in 70 years! Quinnipiac University’s respondents also said, by 54% to 44%, that the Obama administration is not competent to run the government. A Zogby Analytics survey asked if respondents are proud or ashamed of the president. Those under 50 were proud, while those over 50, who have of course the longest experienced sense of American history, were ashamed.
We all know the reasons behind the numbers. The scandals that suggest poor stewardship and, in the case of the IRS, destructive political mischief. The president’s signature legislation, which popularly bears his name and contains within it the heart of his political meaning, continues to wreak havoc in marketplaces and to be unpopular with the public. He is incapable of working with Congress, the worst at this crucial aspect of the job since Jimmy Carter, though Mr. Carter at least could work with the Mideast and produced the Camp David Accords. Mr. Obama has no regard for Republicans and doesn’t like to be with Democrats. Internationally, small states that have traditionally been the locus of trouble (the Mideast) are producing more of it, while large states that have been more stable in their actions (Russia, China) are newly, starkly aggressive.
In a truly stunning piece in early June, Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein interviewed many around the president and reported a general feeling that events have left him – well, changed. He is “taking fuller advantage of the perquisites of office,” such as hosting “star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight.” He travels, leaving the White House more in the first half of 2014 than any other time of his presidency except his re-election year. He enjoys talking to athletes and celebrities, not grubby politicians, even members of his own party. He is above it all.
On his state trip to Italy in the spring, he asked to spend time with “interesting Italians.” They were wealthy, famous. The dinner went for four hours. The next morning his staff were briefing him for a “60 Minutes” interview about Ukraine and health care. “One aide paraphrased Obama’s response: ‘Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting things, and now we’re back to the minuscule things on politics.’”
Minuscule? Politics is his job.
When the crisis in Ukraine escalated in March, White House aides wondered if Mr. Obama should cancel a planned weekend golf getaway in Florida. He went. At the “lush Ocean Reef Club,” he reportedly told his dinner companions: “I needed this. I needed the golf. I needed to laugh. I needed to spend time with friends.”
You get the impression his needs are pretty important in his hierarchy of concerns.
He’s like someone who’s constantly running the movie “Lincoln” in his head. It made a great impression on him, that movie. He told Time magazine, and Mr. Remnick, how much it struck him. President Lincoln of course had been badly abused in his time. Now his greatness is universally acknowledged. But if Mr. Obama read more of Lincoln, he might notice Lincoln’s modesty, his plain ways, his willingness every day to work and negotiate with all who opposed him, from radical abolitionists who thought him too slow to supporters of a negotiated peace who thought him too martial. Lincoln showed respect for others. Those who loved him and worked for him thought he showed too much. He was witty and comical but not frivolous and never shallow. He didn’t say, “So sue me.” He never gave up trying to reach agreement and resolution.
It is weird to have a president who has given up. So many young journalists diligently covering this White House, especially those for whom it is their first, think what they’re seeing is normal.
It is not. It is unprecedented and deeply strange. And, because the world is watching and calculating, unbelievably dangerous.
It is, quite literally, a depressing read. How in hell did this man get elected? What have we wrought?
Thankfully, there are people out there like Elizabeth Scalia, who while recognizing what the man and his policies are doing to the country, asks us not to despair:
Well, don’t despair; to despair is to sin against hope. But what shall we hope for? That somehow a golden past may be recaptured? That is an unrealistic hope; even if the past is prologue, the thrust of narrative is always, relentlessly, forward. The forces in power have begun as they mean to continue, and even if genies could be put back into bottles we are too divided, too distracted and too self-interested to chase and subdue them.
A more realistic hope: that our focus may move beyond the fakery of politics and headlines and pundit gas-baggery; that we may stop attributing to America the inviolable traits and virtues that cannot belong to a nation (for a nation is only an idea) but only to a people, and then only imperfectly, and we have surely been imperfect. If a cult of personality helped to bring us to this point, it could only occur in a nation that had become comfortable with ideas evolving into idols.
The good news is, since politics has become pointless, we will now get to talk about human conscience, and philosophy and the stuff of the soul, and to fight for what is True — the Reality beyond all of these overwhelming illusions — and to therefore begin to bring on Apocalypse; not an end, but an uncovering; a revelation. And then the winning begins.
The things of the spirit foment and grow a most subversive freedom. So, Happy Independence Day, indeed.
Read the whole thing and trust in the hope offered.
Thank you Ms. Scalia.