Guest Post by Monty Pelerin
My take on President Obama is that he is one sick puppy. But what if that assumption is incorrect? What if there is method to his madness, a brilliance unseen? What if he is actually a genius, at least in terms of achieving his objectives? That possibility, to the extent true, presents serious issues for anyone trying to make sense of what is going on in Washington.
An interesting opinion regarding Barack Obama and the devolution of politics and freedom under his term is provided by Brian Wilson of Libertas Media. Brian is a friend and commentator on the madness that is disguised as wisdom and civilization:
From the Internet to the blog-o-sphere to E-zines to TV and radio chat shows, there is no shortage of opinions criticizing, ridiculing, psychoanalyzing our Fearless Leader. While taking different routes of reason, within acceptable boundaries one could conclude all of them accurate inasmuch as they share synonymous conclusions: Obama is a stumbling, bumbling fool, in over his head but with such a colossal ego or other psychologically dysfunctional handicaps is unable or unwilling to see the folly of his ways, much less accept the disastrous reality that he has created.
To virtually all the pundits, the Embarrassed on the Left and Giddy on the right, the upcoming midterm elections will be the left cross to the right uppercut in 2016 that does away with every socialist program and its stench that has engulfed and threatened the very existence of America.
In a recent article, some learned friends of mine tracked the significant events of the Obama administration – from the so-called “stimulus “in 2009 to the most recent scandal cum embarrassment, the instantly infamous “Saving Private Bergdahl” (MAD Magazine) and the 5-for-1 “Wow! What-A-Deal!” deal. With each individual event, my friends concluded
“Every act, every initiative, every landmark development is the same. They all have enormous production value. They all carry massive price tags. And they all fall flat, to say the very least. Everything is for show. Nothing of substance is accomplished.Yet everything comes at a steep, steep cost.”
Who could successfully argue the point? For that matter, who could successfully argue against any of the boat load of opinion pieces that condemn the president for acting like a king – only in this case, the King of Hubris?
What if they’re all wrong? What if we are the ones suffering with hubris? What if we are the fulfillment of Pogo’s observation: “We have met the enemy – and it is us.”?
In a recent discussion, I raised this question: What if all that we are witnessing, discussing, condemning is, in fact, the sum total of the Obama 3 Ring Circus? In fact, to P. T. Barnum’s famous “there’s a sucker born every minute” line, isn’t it possible – even probable – Obama & Company are playing us for the “Sucker” role?
Think about it….
While certainly fitting the diagnosis of blowhard, narcissist, incompetent, sociopath… Couldn’t the reality more accurately be: “No, Sucker, you got the part foolishly thinking we were just out of our league. Fact is this has been the game plan all along. You remember Alinsky, Cloward, Piven et al? Didn’t I tell you we were going to ‘fundamentally change America’? Didn’t I tell you my plan to shut down the coal biz and raise your utility bill? Don’t you remember ‘you can keep your doctor and health care plan. Period.’? Transparency? Hell, I’ve been telegraphing every one of my punches since my first stump speech. The ones that didn’t land? OK…a little embarrassing…but, hey – I just shrugged it off, said SQUIRREL! and my friends in the press did the rest…along with your own ADD, of course”
So why isn’t that the plan? Not part of the “popular narrative”? Contradicts the All-American Rule of Law Paradigm? For someone who routinely complains about a recalcitrant Congress and then rips off a few executive orders circumventing it, why would a reasonably objective analysis not lead to the conclusion this guy has a lot more unpleasant surprises up his sleeve? After all, who is going to stop him? Congress doesn’t have the necessary body parts or legal apparatus to effectively move against him. Even if they did, any substantive legal action would have to be taken by Attorney General Eric “Waco Whitewash” Holder. When you consider Klapper, Sebelius, Lerner, Clinton and the rest of the Obama outlaws flipping off Congressional subpoenas and Contempt charges, roaming the streets with impunity, would you face palm yourself bloody in surprise if the AG was just “too busy to get around to it”? Even if Boehner/ Pelosi/Reid/McConnel allowed the Congressional process to move accordingly? Well? Anyone? Buehler?
Between Bush’s Patriot Act to the NDAA and now Holder’s just announced “war” on “domestic terrorists” via The Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, what Congressional committee, law, rule, regulation or any legal plumbing would prevent Obama from declaring martial law at the drop of an ASP Baton? Black swan event? Acid indigestion? By using the Administration’s patented “Ignore Button”, all the lousy ratings in all the public opinion polls have not adjusted his course one wit. So “public opinion” is a big nonstarter. Petitions? Face Book pages? Letters to Congressman/Senators/Editorial Boards? All as deadly and effective as a water balloon on an elephant hunt.
With everyone unilaterally tossing in the towel by chalking up the demise of America to a former “community organizer” with a lousy personality, psychological dysfunction and superior incompetence, I think there is ample proof for a contrary and, yes, accurate conclusion. People are indeed connecting the dots but the picture that’s coming into their focus is Alfred E Newman.
I’m seeing Dorian Gray.
Mr. Wilson’s hypothesis is as consistent with observed outcomes as the alternative “bumbler-in-chief” meme. As one who has actually used Alfred E. Newman as a prototype for this president, I had interest in the Dorian Gray alternative.
Behavior and Motivation
Human behavior is purposeful. It represents action intended to attain goals. Behavior is observable; goals are not. Goals and motivation must be inferred.
The distinction between behavior and motivation is important. When we characterize someone’s behavior as “senseless” or “crazy,” it is in reference to the achievement of some goal or goals. We usually assume that these goals are similar to our own and that such behavior has no chance of attaining them. But, what if our goals are not the goals of the actor we are judging? If this person is pursuing different goals than we assume, then his behavior may be entirely rational and effective.
It is the unknown goal(s) that make the judgment of someone’s behavior dubious.
Alfred E. Newman or Dorian Gray
Those of us who view President Obama as incompetent and likely to be viewed as our worst president yet, assume his goals are consistent with our own. That is, we assume that he wants to improve things in line with traditional American values. Beginning with that assumption as his goal, we conclude that he is an Alfred E. Newman character. His actions and behavior have no chance of attaining these goals. Hence we assume that he must be hopelessly inept.
If, however, we viewed Obama’s goal as destroying the country (at least in terms of traditional ideals), then our evaluation of his actions would be different. While we might no approve of his goals, the effectiveness of action must be judged as to whether it advances the football closer to the goalpost. In that respect, Obama’s behavior no longer looks inept but calculated and advancing his agenda. If the first approach might be termed the Alfred E. Newman one, then this second one would be the Dorian Gray approach.
Depending on what you assume his objectives are, you have vastly different assessments of his competence and success. In pursuit of the goals you believe are important, he appears to be a bumbling, incompetent fool. In the other case, he has achieved rather significant successes.
The Alfred E. Newman inference implies incompetence rather than different goals. The Dorian Gray hypothesis infers goals not consistent with the perceived interests of the country, at least as defined by most citizens. Alfred E. Newman is assumed to be seeking the proper goal. His incompetence prevents him from being successful. Dorian Gray is pursuing goals that are different from those normally assumed. The pursuer of wrong goals can still be an Alfred E. Newman in terms of capabilities. One would hope that would be the case. In such an instance, the law of unintended consequences actually works for the country.
My guess is that we have a bit of both at work with Barack Obama. He is Dorian Gray, but he is also Alfred E. Newman, at least in terms of administrative and managerial abilities. Regardless of what goals are being pursued, incompetence is not an aid to attaining them.