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Neat Trick

Dashing off a few things before I dash:

1.) The Richard Cohen thing.  The lede kind of got buried in the Richard Cohen s^&*storm.  It’s not that the Tea Party people are racist, though some of them clearly are.  It’s that they consider their views to be “conventional”.  That’s the cover that the Fox News manipulators, Limbaughians and Glen Becksters have given them.  My hypothesis about how the right wing has been able to get away with so much is that it makes it Ok for some Americans to give in to their secret desires.  They want to feel superior to some  people and exert power over others.  That’s why they tend to take it out on people of color, women, gays and immigrants.  They’re f^*(ing cowards when it comes to taking on the real culprits who are making their lives an economic nightmare.  That’s why you’ll never see them at an Occupy rally, because that might actually make a difference but would also be potentially dangerous to their physical bodies. But they’re perfectly fine bashing people who have no political power.  And they allow this because they call themselves conventional.  I think Bob Altmeyer wrote a book about conventional people called The Authoritarians.

Richard Cohen, on the other hand, makes me despair for the future of employment.

2.) When you’ve lost Bill Clinton’s support, it’s bad.  The Clintons have stood behind the party that trashed Hillary and elected an untested, inexperienced, ruthless friend of Wall Street and Obama through thick and thin.  But it looks like The Big Dog draws the line with Obamacare.  I don’t think he is enjoying this bit of schadenfreude.  Some people take policy and politics seriously.

And some people just check that box on their CVs.

3.) Sylvie Guillem recently retired from the Paris Opera Ballet but oh, how wonderful it must have been to see her dance in person.  Here’s a very short clip of her rehearsing Dulcinea.  If only every day could be like this:

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The worm is turning on Obama

I’m getting that vibe.  It’s like the country is starting to realize that, Oh. My. God., we might be stuck with this loser for four more years.  How did this happen?  I have a hypothesis that the last time Americans picked a president was in 1996 but I’ll save that for another time.

What I’m surprised to see is how many opinion makers are now turning on him.  There was The Daily Show last week when Jon Stewart pointed out that a felon in the West Virginia primary got 40% of the Democratic primary votes.  There was Kristen Schaal disgusted with her choices this year and pleading, “Please run for Office, Hillary Clinton”.

And now we have Richard Cohen.  Wait, did he make the wanker of the decade list? Turns out he did coming in as 6th runner up.  Congratulations, Richard! Well, nevermind that, his latest column was unexpected.  Richard is basically saying, “Obama smells, he’s got no friends and nobody likes him.”

Last week I asked a member of the Senate if he knows of anyone who really knows Obama. He said he does not.

Washington is thick with stories about Obama’s insularity and distance. We hear how he does not listen to criticism — he sometimes just walks out of the room — and how he sticks to a tight circle of friends. His usual weekly golf game is mostly limited to the same people — and when he played a round with House Speaker John Boehner(R-Ohio), it was treated as an exceptional event. When, for whatever reason, Politico analyzed Obama’s golf outings (June 6, 2011), it found that Obama’s “golf circle has actually gotten much tighter over the past 212 years” — none of them politicians or, heaven forbid, journalists.

 […]But Obama cannot or will not indulge in the sort of face-to-face politicking that Johnson so favored. He has not stroked important contributors — one bundler told me he never hears from Obama. As the New York Times put it recently in an article about his fundraising on Wall Street, Obama himself has “a reputation for being cold at small gatherings.” “I just don’t think he likes us,” one fundraiser is quoted as saying.

The best that can be said for Obama is that he treats everyone with about the same degree of distance. One important Democrat used the term “cuckoo-clock events” to refer to White House receptions where Obama robotically appears, says a minimal amount of words and then disappears. He does not mingle — or, if he does, it is as little as possible. Bill Clinton, in contrast, was the host from hell. The party never ended.

I highlighted all of the negative words and phrases.  Considering the length of the post, this many negative phrases should sound alarm bells for his campaign.  Reading this, you get the feeling that Obama is callous, cold, insensitive to the feelings of others, and really doesn’t like people.  He’s a bit of a misanthrope.    There’s even a comparison to Bill Clinton who seemed to be warm, gregarious and a people person. Cohen seems almost wistful about the endless party that was Bill.  Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…

There’s more to that column about LBJ.  I’m listening to Robert Caro’s book on Johnson, The Passage of Power, and I can definitely see the characteristics of JFK in Obama.  He’s surrounding himself with the smartest guys in the room who have absolutely no idea how to deal with Congress.  Like JFK, Obama spent most of his time in the Senate interviewing for his next job.  JFK never passed a significant piece of legislation and was not known to be a “workhorse”.  You could cut Kennedy a break because of his constant illnesses but what’s Obama’s excuse?  Four years ago, we here at The Confluence predicted that he would have trouble working legislation through Congress because he’d never really had to do it and how could it have been otherwise?

But what we have here in Cohen’s column is cocktail party talk.  This is the voice of the Village who now do not want Obama at their lunch table.  It’s sophomoric and petty but when the press starts to turn on you, it can get ugly fast. The New York Times is calling him “cold at small gatherings”.  That can’t be good.

The second worm that has turned as been Yves Smith.  I know she has been critical of Obama in the past but her post today makes it sound like her hair is on fire.  It’s hard to pick excerpts from Barack Obama, the Great Deceiver, the whole thing is good, so run over there and read it yourself.  Here’s a taste:

Engelhardt depicts a malevolent leader without using that word. It is hard to see a policy of drone strikes that have and will continue to kill innocents, a continuation of extraordinary renditions, and assassinations of American citizens merely suspected of terrorism, in any other light.

But his actions are detrimental not only for their overweening, super-hero-like force, but more often, for serving vested interests by being deliberately weak, badly watered down versions of real reforms (and correspondingly, notice how often Obama maintains he was boxed in by intransigent Republicans, when in fact they serve as convenient scapegoats for what he wanted to do anyhow?)

And by taking as much debate and energy as the genuine remedies, they prevent the topic from being revisited for years, if not decades. The frequently criticized Dodd Frank is one example, but the poster child is Obamacare. The program manages the difficult feat of worsening the fundamental problem of our health care system, which is bad incentives and resulting out-of-control costs. It enriched Big Pharma and the insurers rather than bringing them to heel. The result will be overpriced insurance that covers little. We’re seeing that start now as the FDA is looking into make a number of widely used drugs, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol medications, over the counter, which would mean they would not be covered by health care policies.

Readers of this blog are likely to argue that they have a jaded view of Obama, but still regard him as preferable to Romney. But they seem to fail to appreciate another layer of Obama’s deception, that his charm and unflappable demeanor mask his ruthlessness. It’s no accident that he chose Rahm Emanuel as his initial chief of staff, an enforcer and by all accounts one of the members of what was an unusually tight inner team. The Democrats are now indistinguishable from the Republicans in their mastery of Rovian playing on identity politics. Obama has also proven adept at neutralizing well positioned actual or potential threats, such as David Petraeus, Elizabeth Warren, and Eric Schneiderman.

People who answer polls may not want to say what they really think of Obama.  They don’t want to be called racists.  But it’s not about race.  It’s about getting the feeling that, somehow, you’ve been had.  Yes, I think malevolence is not too far off the mark.  It started in the primaries of 2008.  It was the hooliganism of his on the ground supporters at caucuses, the fact that he took his name off the ballot in Michigan in order to monkeywrench the primary process, that he never stood up for the voters of Florida and Michigan and how he and his party treated his competition at the convention, with contempt and driven to humiliate.  Those of us who were not starstruck watched it in horror because we couldn’t seem to stop it and make people come back to themselves.

Back then, Yves was a cautiously optimistic Obama supporter.  Not anymore.  And once you see what you’ve been trying to avoid, you can’t unsee it.

Expect more of the same over the next couple of weeks.  The reality of the next four years is setting in and so is the slowly escalating anxiety and fear of what’s to come.