Sunday, January 22, 2017

Rich Lowry: The Next JFK

The work of unraveling President Barack Obama’s legacy is underway, but even if the Trump administration and a Republican Congress reverse every last law and regulation, they won’t be able to touch the core of it.

Obama’s enduring legacy will be as a cultural symbol, the first African-American president, who represented a current of social change in the country and reflected the values and attitudes of the progressive elite.

He will be remembered — and revered — by his admirers as his generation’s JFK. The standards here are largely stylistic, and Obama checks nearly every box: He was a young president; a photogenic man with a good-looking family; a symbol of generational change; an orator given to flights of inspiring rhetoric; if not a wit exactly, a facile talker with a taste for mocking the other side.

The process is a little like Romans deciding which emperors to make gods after their deaths, depending on their reputations. For Democrats, LBJ and Jimmy Carter were too unglamorous and too obviously failures, whereas Bill Clinton gave too much ground to Republicans (and didn’t keep his dalliances discreet). Obama won two terms, is as ideologically pure as reasonably possible, and has cultural staying power.

The original myth of Camelot was borne aloft by the tragedy of JFK’s assassination, which created a suspension of disbelief about the martyred president.

Obama isn’t a martyr, but his supporters have experienced the election of Donald Trump as a major trauma. For them, the poignancy and power of Obama as a symbol of what they consider a better America will increase every single day of the Trump years.

The New York Times columnist Tom Wicker once wrote a book on Richard Nixon called One of Us. The liberal opinion elite fell in love with Obama because he was one of them. In sensibility and worldview, he’s a writer for the New Yorker who happened to win two presidential elections.

Words matter to Obama. He is comfortable with popular culture and embodies a certain kind of cool. When he is not whipping up a crowd, he has the affect of a Harvard lecturer. His politics are assumed to be unassailable common sense wherever unreflective liberals gather, from faculty lounges to Hollywood fundraisers.

One of the root causes of Obama’s domestic political failure was the tension between his pitch for himself as a unifying figure and the fact that he was a committed man of the Left. He could be one or other, but not both. He always chose his left-wing politics.

His favorite rhetorical crutch was to portray his positions as the centrist path between two extremes, although this was convincing only to people who already agreed with him. His inability or unwillingness to compromise proved devastating to his party, which got wiped out in 2010, 2014, and most importantly 2016. This puts much of what he accomplished legislatively and unilaterally in jeopardy....

Via Twitter: Link to read the rest of it.


ricpic said...

Obama has been an unmitigated disaster for the United States. To hell with Lowry's nuanced assessment of him. Never forget that Lowry and his rag, National Review, were Never-Trumpers throughout the campaign.

chickelit said...

Projectors on full stun.

edutcher said...


Pissy will fade more quickly than his legacy. When Dr Evil's minions are calling him halfa cracka and he's still got at least 2 years to go, you know he's passed his sell-by date.

Leland said...

Well, JFK did makes relations with the USSR/Russians worse and got us into wars nobody was really interested to fight. So I kinda see the connection with Obama.

But JFK was also a rich trust baby from the Northeast with an attractive wife and a young boy to run around the White House grounds. So if we are talking Camelot (which I always found offensive, because it denotes US royalty), then it seems like Trump is more like JFK.

In the end, I think Trump is going to be his own man with his own brand.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

The left will try, but JFK died which promoted the whole Camelot thing. Obama will be popular, but will fade.

ampersand said...

There's never going to be an honest assessment of Obama ever. Think bad thoughts about him and the MSM will wish you into the cornfield. Ask Joe the Plumber or Tuffy Gessling.

You don't even get an accurate assessment of JFK. The Kennedy clan were fairly right wing. They sent money to Nixon in all his California runs.Robert Kennedy was McCarthy's other right hand man on his Anti-commie committee. McCarthy was godfather to Kennedy's daughter.
Ted Kennedy, probably the stupidest of that clan, believed all that media tripe of how they were the shining knights of the left.
JFK never gets called on Vietnam. There were 900 advisers in that country and 16000 when he died. He gave his blessing to the Diem coup. But somehow the history of Vietnam was a curved line from Eisenhower to Nixon.

William said...

Posterity is just as unfair as everything else in life. Obama will be remembered well for the next few generations. Look at JFK. There was a time when I believed absolutely in that Camelot crap. Most people still do. I don't see him going the way of Andrew Jackson anytime soon......Nixon glumly observed that it's not the winners who write history, but the historians. The historians have a bias for Democrats. Still TR is now rated much higher than Wilson, and Eisenhower is starting to get his due. Maybe they'll sort things out, but I'll be long dead when they do.

edutcher said...

Keep one thing in mind - Jack Kennedy had to get shot to become a Lefty martyr.

Had he lived, he might well have been the first one-term Democrat of the 20th century.

Nobody went near Pissy. That's a big difference.

ampersand said...

JFK never gets called on Vietnam. There were 900 advisers in that country and 16000 when he died. He gave his blessing to the Diem coup. But somehow the history of Vietnam was a curved line from Eisenhower to Nixon.

Actually, he does. The Lefties would like it to start with LBJ and never end, but Kennedy's sponsorship of Special Forces, SEAL Team, and what's become AF Spec Ops was because he wanted to be M and they would be his 007. As he said, "We have to make our power pertinent in the world and Vietnam seems to be the place".

MamaM said...

What's been accomplished is the election of an African American to the presidency. For 8 years, not merely a token four, Obama was granted the opportunity to make a difference. The fact that an African American became the highest ranking official in the United States is noteworthy, memorable and significant. What he did with those eight years will also be noted, as it paved the way for someone who is now saying that black, brown, and white all bleed the same color blood and unity matters.

From Roger Simon:

When people "act out," it's often because a particularly raw nerve has been touched, some basic fear triggered.

And acting out is clearly what John Lewis and the umpteen (as of now 58) other Democrats are doing in refusing to attend the inauguration (Lewis apparently not for the first time). They claim this is because Donald Trump is a racist, sexist, etc., etc., anathema to everything an "inclusive" America should be, and therefore unfit for the office. Not only that, Vladimir Putin put him there.

But that's the surface of what's really upsetting them, what the shrinks call the "presenting complaint." Deep down it's something else, something far more potent.

They're afraid Donald Trump might actually succeed.

In a world where we often talk of disruptors in business, Trump is the ultimate political disruptor. What if this supposedly vulgar, rude man who makes politically incorrect comments about various people and groups were the one finally to put our disadvantaged communities on the road to economic recovery and opportunity? What if Donald Trump made the inner cities great for the first time?

What would that do to the John Lewises of the world (not to mention the more obviously exploitative Sharptons and Jacksons)? It would make them irrelevant.

So too with Obama. He is on the books as the first African American President in our country's history, an honor that will always belong to him. While in that position, he willingly and unwillingly set the stage for the next act. And if Trump can pick up the pieces and succeed in building something more unifying, something that will move our focus beyond color, that too will become part of his legacy. Relevant in the larger context, one that recognizes significant place marking along with set-up (albeit unwittingly) for the next stage, which will now be focused on the greater unity not realized through Obama's policies and approach.

This,from Obama as he was leaving town makes me smile, as its one of his statements that's true, yet once again doesn't reflect how he behaved so much as how Trump behaved in the overall:

"Our democracy is not the buildings," Obama told them. "It's you, being willing to listen to each other and argue with each other and come together and knock on doors and make phone calls and treat people with respect. And that doesn't end, this is just a little pit stop."

“This is not a period,” he said. “This is a comma in the continuing story of building America.”

I see Obama's legacy as a Question Mark (?) and am wondering if Trump's will be an Exclamation Point (!) or a Pound Sign (#). It's already been much more than a comma and that's something a blind man can see!! Closer perhaps to the mixed symbols used for swearing in cartoon language #$@&%*!

Or maybe he was talking about himself again, as Obama the Comma in the Continuing Story of the Building of America. A Comma would work as placeholder and set up for what is to come.

Trooper York said...

Jesse Jackson was very complimentary towards President Trumps speech. Sharpton has been very restrained lately. You see they know Trump from way back. They are not going to bet against him. They know he can cut deals and get things done. So they want a piece of the pie.

Trump is going to deal with the Black Church and funnel his programs through them. If he repeals the Johnson Amendment and sets up partnerships with the African American churches he will get a very substantial portion of the vote next time around.

My father in law has home care attendants who insisted on staying at his house after their shift was over to hear the speech. They were crying with joy to hear that God was coming back to the White House. They heard something very different than the atheist Hillary voters. Wait and see what happens. You are going to be very surprised.

ndspinelli said...

I suppose you have to decide how you term success. Obama was wildly "successful" the day he got elected in 2009. He could have killed puppies on camera and fucked 12 year old's. If half the country was wiped out in a nuclear attack he would have been lauded that he saved the other half. Remember how this feckless guy handled the oil spill early in his first term? He was a disaster even worse than the spill. All he got was praise.

Trump..well he can be more successful than Reagan and he will get the same credit as Reagan, virtually none. Liberals write the history books and textbooks. If you want fair, try another planet.

Amartel said...

The media still doesn't entirely understand - or want to seriously believe - what they've got on their hands. All the bloviating and chin-scratchery about Trump's "lies," which are a matter of interpretation, at best, and regarding minor media-inspired dust-ups (size of inaug crowd, whether Trump was disrespecting the intelligence services entire or just their Obama-appointed spokesholes). They are just making themselves look worse and worse. Also, spending the entire day enthusing about the fascist pity party. Why should Trump take them seriously? Troll on, Trump, troll on.

Chip Ahoy said...

It's been 53 years and still with the Camelot horseshit.

Jacqueline Kennedy read a book. The phrase "shining city on the hill" lodged in her vapid mind. (Just listen to her interviews at the time. Such a delicate feather) She mentioned this in an interview for Look magazine. The magazine itself is long gone but that ridiculous phrase applied to government located in low-lying marshland stuck permanently in the minds of vaporous vapid partisan dummkopfs and apparently the memory is intergenerational. Jacqueline herself went onto marry a foreign millionaire to sustain her cash grabbing lifestyle well noted and even that hasn't changed their perspective.

An American myth based on a British myth, one with an actual ending. Perfect for modern day Democrat cohesion never ending.

Because their reality sucks so hard. They have to substitute fantasy instead.

It's a pet peeve and always has been.

This flat pissed me off too.

[Melania Trump channels Jackie O in blue Ralph Lauren dress]

Yahoo News

This is why we hate you f'k'n idiot lot.

She did no such thing, all you insipid dopes. She dressed as she does, you miserable one-track minded morons. Jesus Christ, you cunts make me ill just being exposed to your random-ass Rorschach association babbling. And that you all copy each others dopy self-affirmations makes me puke.

Melania outclasses vintage Jacuqeline Kennedy by a whole magnitude of order. She didn't channel anybody. And no reason to copy anyone. That's all in your mind because you cannot let go of your deeply etched fantasy that's now 53 years old and by its insistent neurotic repetition 10,000 years old. By its constant rechiseling repeatedly gouged it reads as hieroglyphs clawed into pyramids. That's how f'k'n old this shit is. Grow the fuck UP already.

But that's quite impossible. We're stuck with your stupid shit until you all die. I'll just have to outlive the whole lot.

ampersand said...

Trump is going to deal with the Black Church and funnel his programs through them

Ugh. I hope not. The Reverend Jackson and the Reverand Sharpton are part of the black church.
Around here The "Reverends" are all self serving assholes, including Catholic priest Father Pfleger. Any money funneled through them will go to $3000 dollar suits , Mercedes and baby momma maintenance. Jackson may be buttering up Trump for a pardon for junior. Sharpton maybe fears an audit.
BTW El Popo came out of his hole to suggest Trump=Hitler. Building walls is just like Hitler, except Hitler wasn't building walls, he was building tanks to bust down other peoples walls. I wonder if this guy ever condemned the thieving populists that are a large part of his rotten country's history.

edutcher said...

Chip Ahoy said...

An American myth based on a British myth, one with an actual ending.

In truth, an American myth based on a Broadway musical based on a British myth.

They wanted Black Sambo to be the Southern version.

Except they're both from Chiraq.

ampersand said...

Well the Broadway show had adultery as a major plot point so they have that in common.

William said...

The Broadway show was based on T.H. White's novel, The Once and Future King. Too late now, but if you had read it while still young, it would have been a terrific read. According to wiki, Rowland's based her Dumbledore character on White's Merlyn. This is a novel with legs.