"Who Are You?"

I realize that this is an ad hominem rather than a cogent argument. Still, since I've spent the entire weekend defending Senator Obama's right to defend his wife -- and the basic nobility of such a defense -- I think I can take a moment to point to something that really bothers me about the man.

[W]hat exactly has he done in his lifetime to merit appropriating the Brandenburg Gate as a campaign prop? What was his role in the fight against communism, the liberation of Eastern Europe, the creation of what George Bush 41 — who presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall but modestly declined to go there for a victory lap — called “a Europe whole and free”?...

Americans are beginning to notice Obama’s elevated opinion of himself. There’s nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?

Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted “present” nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.
That last bit is probably fair, in spite of his more recent work: but it is all the more astonishing given that he was allowed to write a memoir instead of the book he was contracted to produce, which was to be a book on race relations. He was permitted to write the memoir at the age of 28. For which memoir he was given an advance of $40,000. After he missed his deadline. Oh, and he took five years to finish the memoir of a 28 year-long life, but they never asked for the money back.

I can forgive the man's own sense of entitlement or arrogance or whatever it is: the world has been handed to him on a platter at every moment. He's never done anything, but he's never had to do anything. For whatever reason, people have rushed to him to lay flowers at his feet. He's 28 years old, doesn't grasp what an opportunity he's being given in being offered a contract with Simon & Schuster, blows his deadline, and then turns in a memoir instead of the work he promised to produce? Hey, no problem -- here's forty grand.

He hasn't updated his awareness on Iraq in two years, and so at the last minute he goes out with a Congressional Delegation to meet with some of the generals he's never talked to as a Senator? Every network sends their anchor along to cover the historic trip. McCain -- a long-term Senator and veteran, and the guy who made the Surge -- goes out while the war is still hot, and walks the Iskandariyah market without body armor? The wire services don't even send anyone. The only photos of the trip are from military public affairs.

His wife gets her salary tripled after he wins election to the Senate, and shortly thereafter he earmarks her employer a million dollars? Hey, now, so what? That's the politics of hate, man. The hospital says she deserved it, so obviously it's just what's fair. We all know how it works. Grim's Hall readers are smart and work hard. Some of you got a 300% raise that year, right? No? Ever?

You're getting your start as a mere "community organizer." Your chief initiative is to get better housing for your constituents. The housing is underbuilt and has to be condemned, and your chosen vendor goes to prison on Federal corruption charges. This is seen in no way as a disqualifying factor to your pursuit of higher office. Really, it's not interesting. Especially not when taken together with that earmark thing. Oh, and the guy who went to prison helped you buy your house. And donated to your campaign. All of your campaigns.

I had the same sense when President Bush proposed Julie Myers as the head of ICE, when she was manifestly unqualified -- but related to a key Bush supporter. (Some of you will remember me ranting about that repeatedly and at length.) Myers, though, was clearly a Bush powerplay: the Republicans protested loudly, but finally fell in line. They had used up their political capital killing his SCOTUS nomination.

In the case of Senator Obama, the whole world seems to be in on the game. It's one thing for a Senator or a Presidential candidate to have high and low moments, pluses and drawbacks. That's normal. It's astonishing to watch someone who, since he was a man of 28 and even younger, has been given everything: whose failures have been rewarded with cash advances, praise, adulation, and higher office.

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