In a long, detailed interview/feature last week by David Remnick in the New Yorker, was this on President Obama’s historical perspective:
“I have no desire to be one of those Presidents who are just on the list — you see their pictures lined up on the wall,” Obama told them. “I really want to be a President who makes a difference.”
As she put it to me then, “There was the sense that he wanted to be big. He didn’t want to be Millard Fillmore or Franklin Pierce.”
(Illustration found here).
The “them” mentioned above: Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and her husband, Richard Goodwin (who worked for both JFK and LBJ), on a visit to Obama’s Senate office in 2007 — just as the presidential campaign was getting off the ground. Everybody then were only sensing the vapors off the “hope and change” motif, the bubble just starting to form, and with the following year a mangled mess, a cry for a changing tide with young people.
And a lot of them got politically involved for the first time — my oldest daughter lost a job when she lived in Texas due mainly to an Obama bumper sticker on her car.
Even me, an avid all-politics hater from way back, was not immune. And looking back, this seemed/appeared to form an indicator — Obama in February 2008:
And today, on this Tuesday in February, in states North and South, East and West, what began as a whisper in Springfield has swelled to a chorus of millions calling for change.
A chorus that cannot be ignored. That cannot be deterred. This time can be different because this campaign for the presidency is different.
It’s different not because of me, but because of you.
Because you are tired of being disappointed and tired of being let down.
You’re tired of hearing promises made and plans proposed in the heat of a campaign only to have nothing change when everyone goes back to Washington.
Because the lobbyists just write another check.
Or because politicians start worrying about how they’ll win the next election instead of why they should.
Or because they focus on who’s up and who’s down instead of who matters.
In retrospect, unvarnished bullshit. Air started to escape from my own bubble a few months later when Obama visited US troops in Kuwait — the famous three-point basketball shot. You can see it here if you like.
Internal bullshit alarms went off with a loud clatter — too much childish style, or something not healthy.
Of course, those alarms became continuous wails in December when Obama joyfully appointed two nefarious financial players and obvious turds to his administration — Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.
As shown recently with little shithead Geithner, change is artificially in the eye of the beholder, and why Wall Street walks: When Tim Geithner, the former Treasury secretary, takes over as president of Warburg Pincus LLC, the private-equity firm, even a high-school dropout can discern a pattern.
Of the sameness of change.
And tonight is Obama’s fifth State of the Union speech, which has already generated some political chewing as it’s been previewed as the president’s change in the changing climate of the Tea Party, racist assholes and shit-faces — accordingly, he will match wits with Republicans, who have caused Obama the greatest grief, but will try circumventing Congress. Supposedly, the key words for tonight’s talk is “executive action.”
Plus this via Twitter: I get Pro Bowl and State of the Union confused. One is big charade with competitors who’d rather not be there and other is a football game.
Obama’s talk, it has been shown, is way better than his walk.
In that New Yorker interview, Obama did gush-out some shit that caused a backlash amongst the up-tight crowd. Writer Remnick did add this in an attempt to explain Obama’s conversational patterns:
When he is interviewed, particularly for print, he has the habit of slowing himself down, and the result is a spool of cautious lucidity.
He speaks in paragraphs and with moments of revision.
Sometimes he will stop in the middle of a sentence and say, “Scratch that,” or, “I think the grammar was all screwed up in that sentence, so let me start again.”
During the ‘scratching,’ Obama let loose with a couple of points that raised eye brows — the first was on football, and playing in the NFL:
Obama was sitting at his desk watching the Miami Dolphins–Carolina Panthers game.
Slender as a switch, he wore a white shirt and dark slacks; a flight jacket was slung over his high-backed leather chair.
As we talked, mainly about the Middle East, his eyes wandered to the game.
Reports of multiple concussions and retired players with early-onset dementia had been in the news all year, and so, before I left, I asked if he didn’t feel at all ambivalent about following the sport. He didn’t.
“I would not let my son play pro football,” he conceded.
“But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”
The Miami defense was taking on a Keystone Kops quality, and Obama, who had lost hope on a Bears contest, was starting to lose interest in the Dolphins.
“At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” he went on.
“These guys, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”
Obama chewed furtively on a piece of Nicorette.
His carriage and the cadence of his conversation are usually so measured that I was thrown by the lingering habit, the trace of indiscipline.
“I’m not a purist,” he said.
And that comment (“I would not let my son play pro football“) carried some controversy, from the negative at ProFootballTalk, to the somewhat-positive at the Washington Post — Obama is being a meanie, and he don’t got no son no how.
But the talk on marijuana was the shrill of the interview — Obama waffling, or maybe just being orally cute.
When I asked Obama about another area of shifting public opinion — the legalization of marijuana — he seemed even less eager to evolve with any dispatch and get in front of the issue.
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.
I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
Is it less dangerous? I asked.
Less dangerous, he said, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.
It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”
What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said.
“And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.”
But, he said, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”
Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”
Yet in a matter of hours, it was “scratch that” — via CNN:
The President’s position on these matters haven’t changed,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in response to a question from CNN on Wednesday.
“He’s not endorsing any specific move by a state. He’s simply making an observation, his position of these matters has not changed,” he said.
And the White House Web site: Confusing messages being presented by popular culture, media, proponents of “medical” marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts tkeep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction.
Meanwhile, giant hypocrite and meaningless anger-monger, DEA honcho Michele Leonhart shit her drawers over Obama’s pot remarks. She is an idiot — she wouldn’t say last year if marijuana was worse than heroin, and just can’t stand any thoughts of legalizing the weed.
Leonhart, of course, was Obama’s pick to head the DEA, and he surely knew what he was getting, since she had been running the agency as acting administrator since November 2007 and had served as its deputy administrator before that.
As acting administrator, she overruled a DEA administrative law judge’s recommendation that University of Massachusetts at Amherst scientists be allowed to produce marijuana for research, a function currently monopolized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is more interested in showing how dangerous marijuana is than in exploring its medical utility.
That monopoly, unique to marijuana, is even harder to defend than the drug’s Schedule I status—which, by the way, Obama has the power to change without new legislation.
It is fitting that Obama, having opted to stay the course in the war on drugs despite pre-election statements promising something else, has to endure sniping from the hardline prohibitionists he appointed now that has managed to utter an inconvenient truth.
It seems to me Leonhart’s refusal to discuss the relative hazards of different intoxicants and her outrage at symbols of dissent makes her well-suited to lead the war on drugs, an emotion-driven crusade that has always been at odds with the truth.
So in essence is oral Obama is way-different that the acting Obama.
In the New Yorker piece, Obama did add a future reference, maybe for tonight: “If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so, but we’re also a nation of laws,” he said, making his case to a wash of applause.