It started with a New York Times magazine puff piece of a vehicle through which Obama expresses his disappointment with all the ungrateful folks out there in America who are not sufficiently appreciative of the booming economy he has wrought. And that ingratitude, he says, is not the fault of any of his craptastic policies rewarding Wall Street and punishing Main Street. He magnanimously theorizes that the ingratitude is the result of his team's insufficient bragging in the wake of each and every one of their miraculous accomplishments. He didn't toot his own horn loudly enough. Misplaced modesty was his enemy, even with the establishment of his own in-house marketing and propaganda shop.
|Presidential Style: The Legacy Tour Collection|
“We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market," he whined to Wall Street pitchman Andrew Ross Sorkin -- who made sure to tell us in the opening paragraphs that he got a coveted ride on Air Force One and several Oval Office invites in exchange for the favorable myth-making. Even more dramatically West-Wingish was the revelation that the Secret Service was pissed off because the blooming Obama-Sorkin bromance was interfering with the official schedule.
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Obama -- described by Sorkin as "justifiably exasperated" by the vast public ignorance of his awesomeness -- brought down the deficit, fer cryin out loud! The unemployment rate went down with the creation of millions of new low-wage, part-time, temporary service sector jobs. He appointed the Cat Food Commission to make it appear that the rich would "share the sacrifice" with the poor. He gave us nationalized Romneycare, leading to some medical coverage for a small but ethically digestible number of previously uninsured people.
The Times piece is only the opening salvo in the endless Obama Legacy Tour. The president has been actively lobbying friendly reporters to help him put himself back on center stage, from which he has been unceremoniously nudged stage-right by the presidential horse race. Still, it will be hard for the sloppy seconds to outdo Sorkin, whose journalistic prowess is so majestic that he actually broke through the Obama blood-brain barrier like a mind-reading shunt.
Obama is animated by a sense that, looking at the world around him, the U.S. economy is in much better shape than the public appreciates, especially when measured against the depths of the financial crisis and the possibility — now rarely even considered — that things could have been much, much worse.So pay no attention to your own senses. If an "animated" Obama senses from afar that your life is better than you think it is, then it naturally follows that you are naught but an inconsiderate inanimate object. Or, as Obama put it to Sorkin, we are "disoriented." And since we don't know our asses from a hole in the wall, it is perhaps understandable that we fail to sufficiently appreciate his "delicate balancing act."
Obama also took the obligatory jab at Bernie Sanders, whom he accused of speaking of the economy as though it were a mere "abstraction." Although the Sanders plan has only been to break up the largest banks, which own dangerously consolidated assets larger than the GDPs of most countries, Obama falsely accused him of wanting to destroy the entire economy.
Then again, if you admit that our "economy" has been stealthily replaced by a plutonomy serving the interests only of the very wealthiest, Obama was probably right in acknowledging that Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and the rapacious global corporate and military plunder they enable are just about all that's propping Exceptional America up these days. There would be consequences of a breakup, which after a little initial upheaval, would probably result in a more equitable democratic system.“But there is no doubt that the financial system is substantially more stable,” he said. “It is true that we have not dismantled the financial system, and in that sense, Bernie Sanders’s critique is correct” — a reference to the Vermont senator and presidential aspirant who regularly calls to break up America’s biggest banks. “But one of the things that I’ve consistently tried to remind myself during the course of my presidency is that the economy is not an abstraction. It’s not something that you can just redesign and break up and put back together again without consequences.”
Meanwhile, Obama is trying to win back some of the youth vote usurped by Sanders. The most secretive administration in history, led by a president who has been described by James Risen as "the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation," suddenly reached out this week to a group of student journalists visiting the White House.
But rather than urging them to afflict the comfortable and demand accountability from government officials, he admonished them to tell their peers to simply vote for more politicians like him (and presumably, Hillary.)
Times White House correspondent Julie Hirschfeld Davis was dutifully awed by and envious of Obama's awesome engaging with mere student reporters, given that the professional press corps are so into "access" and given that they are so rarely given it.
So Davis stuck with the stenographic semantic playbook of the Legacy Tour:
But it was a student who asked about how to restore Americans’ faith in democracy who provoked the most animated (h/t Andrew Ross Sorkin) response from the president, a former community organizer who campaigned on “hope and change” and has recently lamented his inability to change politics for the better.
After a long discourse on what is broken in politics — gerrymandered districts, a flood of undisclosed campaign contributions and negative advertisements — Mr. Obama cited the low turnout numbers in American elections, especially by young people.
“You can’t just complain; you’ve got to vote,” Mr. Obama said. “Don’t let people tell you that what you do doesn’t matter. Don’t give away your power.Obama ignored the huge, record turnouts at the polls by young Bernie Sanders supporters, both at his campaign rallies and at independent-friendly caucuses and primaries. So I assume that the president's subliminal message to his audience is to resist joining the Bernie Or Bust campaign, or heaven forfend, aid a resurgence of the Occupy movement which was the fuel for the Bernie phenomenon in the first place. Obama wouldn't want to have to call out the troops again so late in his career. It took forever to purge those pepper-spraying cop pics from the Internet.
Don't complain, don't agitate, don't speak out, don't investigate. Just use all your power sparingly: vote. Preferably for Hillary Clinton. And who knows? Maybe a few of you lucky budding journalists will even get the chance to be embedded in one of her inevitable wars.