A Defense of Presidential "Arrogance":
You wouldn't think that Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, would have the delicate constitution of a 1950s virgin debutante horrified at seeing her first cock in a rowboat with her gentleman caller after the cotillion. Indeed, there are times that Gerson's been in the David Frum "reasonable conservative" camp (where, at night, Karl Rove sneaks over the fence so he can fondle the campers in their beds). However, in his panicky little barf of a column today, his garter gets all twisted over something President Obama said: "'Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now,' he recently told a group of Democratic donors in Massachusetts, 'and facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And the country is scared.'"
You may read that and think about some of the GOP candidates. Putting aside Christine O'Donnell or Carl Paladino, who don't have a chance in hell of being elected (although their states' Republicans saw fit to nominate them), you might think about Nevada candidate Sharron Angle's hysterical, hateful anti-immigrant ads, which don't reflect things like, you know, facts. Or you might think about West Virginia's John Raese, who proudly proclaims that he wants to eliminate the minimum wage. Or you might think, "Gee, there's deranged right wingers shooting people or wanting to shoot them because of bullshit they're being told by nutzoids with microphones." Or you might think, "Huh. If I were a man whose enemies routinely proclaimed him to be a socialist or Muslim or foreigner, I might think people are ignoring facts." But you are you and not Michael Gerson (unless you are, in which case: "Dude, seriously, leave shit like this to Thiessen"). To Gerson, "these are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president."
Really? Declaring that a country that is at war, has high unemployment and eroding infrastructure and massive foreclosures, and has airwaves filled with screeching commentators telling them that they are being led by a demonic force in a man's body is "scared" is "arrogant"?
Obama's comments at the fundraiser were actually pretty thoughtful. He spoke of what the nation has been through and is going through as a "trauma." And that ain't 9/11 he's speaking of: it's Gerson's old boss's presidency, the long anal rape that was the majority of the terrible first decade of the millennium. By invoking the word, Obama is starkly making a case that we are now a nation of trauma survivors. And what can one do? "You can respond in a couple of ways to a trauma like this," said the President. "One is to pull back, retrench, respond to your fears by pushing away challenges, looking backwards. And another is to say we can meet these challenges and we are going to move forward. And that's what this election is about."
All Obama meant by the loss of "facts and science and argument" is that, if we can't even agree on what reality is, then how can our collective recovery occur? In the Senate, for instance, the President is not dealing with a reasonable opposition; he's dealing with one that is unwilling to negotiate, one that merely exists to irrationally and without cause block votes on things that many of them supported before Barack Obama was president.
Just like Obama's comment about people clinging to guns and religion when they're worried about the future, it's not that he's wrong. It's that he said it. If anything, the rise of the Tea Party in the wake of Obama's election proved that he was remarkably prescient when he spoke that during the 2008 campaign. The problem for stupid people is not that Obama recognizes what they do. It's that he refuses to join them in their paranoia and delusions.
By the way, nothing that Obama said indicates that he was talking about a broad swath of the population or even everyday citizens. Prior to the remark that has Gerson pulling his panties out of his ass, Obama said, "In some ways what is remarkable is how despite this body blow that the country took, the country once again has proven more resilient and more adaptable and more dynamic than I think a lot of folks give us credit for."
Yep. The President called the American people "resilient" and "dynamic." Gerson neglects that part in favor of saying that Obama is "telling people their fears result from primitive irrationality. Obama may think that many of his fellow citizens can't reason. But they can still vote." And he calls Obama an "intellectual snob."
But as far as arrogance goes, it's kind of arrogant to think you can be president in the first place. To go further, we saw what an arrogant fucker without intellectual chops could do. We're now in the throes of the PTSD that his actions caused. So you know what? The Rude Pundit will take the intellectual snob any day.