The national nightmare that has been Obama was brought into sharper contrast last weekend for me as I read stories about the 40th anniversary of Watergate.
In governing style, not necessarily substance, there are certainly parallels between Obama and Nixon.
In can be argued that both men derived their aggressiveness from feelings of inadequacy they endured as children. Both brought these feelings of adequacy in the form of personal demons into the White House; demons that gave them plastic personalities that never really took shape. Both let their demons dictate how they governed- rudderless, compass-less but always needy- to the great detriment of the nation.
Both men only had to face those demons to achieve great things.
In this, both men failed.
To some extent Nixon and Obama were trapped by impulses beyond their control- or it least by impulses they wished not to control.
“Nixon had a troubled childhood. Raised by a sometimes abusive father and a controlling mother,” says Notable Biographies, “Nixon adopted parts of both his parents' personalities. Some historians have believed that, as a result of his childhood, Nixon had a drive to succeed and felt he had to pretend to be ‘good’ while using any tactics necessary to achieve his goals.”
Obama too had what can only be termed as an unhappy childhood. It has left him, like Nixon, ambivalent about the space that he occupies in the world.
Yes, he’s part white; and yes he’s part black.
But he seems uncomfortable with both races. Even more than just uncomfortable: He is actually hostile to both (all?) races, yet still race-conscious.
Yes, he’s an avowed Christian.
But it’s a strange Christianity that tries to disavow his chosen religion while embracing other religions in a way that appears to many as an endorsement of those religions as superior in some way.
Think of this: Of all the places Obama chose to have a political career he picked Chicago, Illinois. He then wrapped himself in the flag of “reform,” “different,” “better.”
There’s no better place than Chicago to adopt the Nixonian tactic of pretending to be “good” while using any tactics necessary to achieve your goals.
But making a decision to transplant to Chicago for politics- a place that has such obvious contrasts between good and bad- can leave one with serious root burn on the soul.
That root burn can often manifest itself in a sense of entitlement that puts one above the rules, where ends only matter, not means in order to justify the double lie.
While many of us labored under the impression that the presidency elevated men, in the case of Nixon and Obama, it instead exposed their flaws.
"Nixon believed that you use the presidency as an instrument of personal avenge or reward," says Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, as reported in the Orlando Sun Sentinel.
There’s no better way to describe Chicago political way and the personal style of governing that Obama has brought to the White House.
From the crony capitalism practiced by Obama, to his enemies lists, to the pork-barrel highway contracts let out by his mob-connected Secretary of Transport, GOP Illinois combine product Ray Lahood -complete with signs: “Your stimulus dollars at work”- Obama’s made shifting the levers of federal power if not an art form, at least a compulsion that makes governing difficult.
Corruption in government spending and power however wasn’t invented by Obama or Nixon.
Where their personal flaws are really obvious is their insistence on getting credit even for things that had no real moment.
"It was always about Nixon and the real tragedy about all of this probably crimes, abuse, but the smallness of it,” continued Woodward, “and Nixon failed to realize that particularly when he took over as president in '69 in the early months that the country felt even Democrats, good will- we want our president to succeed.”
It’s hard to not apply the same argument to Obama as well.
While certainly professional pols had real policy issues with Obama, in the winter of 2009, I would venture that most Americans were scared enough of the financial crisis that that they too wanted Obama to succeed.
I can remember talking with political professionals from the right who took a great deal of comfort from the fact that Obama’s economic team contained some key Clinton alumni. One told me that if Obama followed the fiscal plan that Clinton executed that the country wouldn’t be as bad off as we thought.
But it was soon apparent that more important than governing well for Obama was advancing the story of Obama the Invincible, the One. Everything was subsumed to evening the Q score for the Obama brand worldwide even to the extent of deliberately insulting the Queen of England, the figurehead of our most important ally, trade partner and our largest direct investor.
Yes. Despite what Obama would have us believe, our most important partner is not China. It’s the U.K.
According to the Congressional Research Service report of May 2012, the U.K. accounts for the largest direct investment in the U.S., almost doubling the next nearest rival, Japan.
But those petty slights delivered to our key ally are nothing compared to Obama’s deliberate misuse of the military and intelligence communities to advance the idea of Obama the Strongman.
From the killing of Osama bin Laden to the war in Libya to the New York Times intelligence leaks, Obama has so needed the spotlight to remain on him that he deliberately endangered our troops and brave men and women- many of them not even Americans- who have risked all to keep the country secure.
“This has to stop,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California according to FoxNews. “When people say they don't want to work with the United States because they can't trust us to keep a secret, that's serious.”
Doubtless Obama supporters would disagree with my assessment. But I don’t really care about their opinion.
Because while the parallels are there, most notable and instructive for the country are the places where the Nixon and Obama stories diverge.
“He immediately launched the campaign of let's spy on people,” said Woodward of Nixon, “let's do something dirty and there was never that sense of let's harmonize and solve the big problems. It was always let's screw somebody, let's get the IRS on them, let's get the FBI on them."
And so it goes with Obama.
While we were all shocked and angered at the revelation of Nixon’s abuses, today the same abuses are not only ignored but tolerated- even encouraged- by the Left.
I never thought I would see a time when the U.S. government would deliberately sell guns to Mexican drug cartels just to advance a petty policy argument about gun control, while the press stood by with not a word or reproach. Or allow the Black Panthers to practice the worst type of racism abetted by the highest law enforcement officer in the land, while the press applauded.
Because the key in allowing such abuses are the folks in the Fourth Estate who are supposed to protect us from power grabs by government and their key allies on the Left or Right.
Nixon lost his soul. And to save the country he had to go.
This time, key parts of the country have sold their soul to a man who is, like Nixon, soul-sick.
But today, whether that man stays or goes doesn’t matter.
It only matters that we reclaim our own soul.
Salvation for our country can only come one soul at a time, because that is how we sold it: one soul at a time.
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