A recent fortnight’s worth of articles from the NY Times and the Washington Post got me thinking – what kind of person is President Barack Obama?
I was startled this morning when a conservative talk show host, Bill Bennett, used the word ‘narcissist’ in connection with the President. This is not an original criticism and was brought about by President Obama’s statement from the day before: “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”
So our former constitutional law professor President is ready to dispense with the fine points of our constitutional democracy in order to take such actions as he can get away with to further his progressive agenda. Bennett is not the only conservative agitated about this.
What sort of person is President Obama?
On December 18 we learned from the NY Times that he is the “President of the Cool.”
Cool musicians, such as Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, and Stan Getz, carry themselves “with a regal bearing” like the President.
Our President is both head of state and head of government; is there any doubt as to which he prefers? When it comes to the dirty work of politics, more than a few commentators have described President Obama as an “outside shooter,” unable or unwilling to play inside and make contact with the opposition.
“One hallmark of a cool musician” is an “intensity and focus that lurks underneath the detached exterior. The same with Mr. Obama that night.” And you thought the press’ slobbering love affair with progressives was limited to the editorial page.
Ten days later the same 'Great Gray Lady' reported that the President and his family celebrated a low-key Christmas in Hawaii – singing carols, opening presents, and visiting a military base.
But the family did not add to President Obama’s total number of church visits during his five years in the White House. That total is 18.
We also learned in this ‘news’ article that “his religious habits appear to be in step with a changing America,…” On the other hand, his 18 church visits in five years “do not reflect the depth of Mr. Obama’s faith,” according to the former head of a White House office on such matters, who sends President Obama a daily devotional. His faith seems to be, due to his background and progressive beliefs, an “inclusive” faith. Unitarians, take note.
Two days later, Marc Thiessen, a Washington Post columnist on the right, explained what health care means for President Obama, his family and senior staff in the White House:
He wrote: “Who says government health care doesn’t work?
“There is a government health plan that is available to a small number of individuals. The risk pool consists of a few dozen people, all of whom work in one building in downtown Washington. If they need a check-up, the doctor comes up to their office for a house call. If they need a prescription, the medicine is delivered to their desks. If they need to see a specialist, they are taken by government transport to one of the best hospitals in the world. If they need surgery, a special suite is available.
“And it is all free of charge.
“This is not Obamacare. But it is the care President Obama gets. Obama, his family and members of the White House senior staff are all taken care of by the doctors of the White House Medical Unit. It’s the best health plan in the world. I know. For a brief time, I was on it.”
When you read that the President finally gets tough with Congress on its special health care treatment, keep this in mind.
Finally, New Year’s Day.
The NY Times reported on the President’s use of some of his leisure time: “Carrying On a Presidential Tradition, One Leisurely Round at a Time.” Honestly, I don’t (much) begrudge the President his 158 rounds and counting of golf in five years.
As Jay Leno might say, he’s highly unlikely to do as much harm golfing as he is in the White House. But I WOULD begrudge him were he to be in the foursome ahead of me.
Mr. President, NO ONE should take six hours to play a round of golf. Just hit the ball!
Or better yet, maybe: might we be in better shape as a country if the President had skipped just a few of those rounds in the office instead, talking to Republicans, working to fix the health care problems, etc?
Mr. President, the solution to the problems with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not to ‘campaign’ for it – that reminds me of the Groucho Marx line, “Who are you going to believe? Me or your own eyes?”
Instead, spend some time with people on both sides of the aisle and craft some legislative or administrative fixes.
* Kevin Conboy is a retired lawyer, who served most recently as a partner with the global firm of Paul Hastings LLP. He has taught on an adjunct basis at Emory University and the University of Georgia Schools of Law, and at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. He is also a member of the Global Irish Network and has served for eight years as the President of the Irish Chamber of Atlanta. The opinions expressed are of his own.The author may be reached at kevinpatrickconboy @ gmail.com.