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The Presidency as Therapy for Barack Obama

No doubt about it, of humankind’s numberless qualities, gloating would rank among the most unattractive. The act of gloating discloses a throbbing hole in one’s self-esteem clamoring to be plugged with artificially generated gestures of superiority. It also betrays a glaring, emotional immaturity.  An accomplishment, even a commendable one, is curdled when the accomplisher gloats about it. 

Nobody likes a gloater — unless he’s Barack Obama; in which case 63,714,092 voters apparently do (at least they did last November 6). 

Beltway Confidential reports,  “Last night [Sunday, December 2], during the Kennedy Center Honors awards, President Obama spoke briefly with Detroit rock musician Kid Rock – who supported Mitt Romney for president … CNN reports that Kid Rock revealed that the president told him, ‘ I’m still here.’ ” 

Echoes of another unflattering Obama anecdote: when, January 23, 2009,  a three-days-inaugurated Barack Obama met with Congressional leaders from both parties to discuss economic concerns, Sen. John Kyl (R- AZ)  challenged the president on a technical matter. “I won,”  retorted the still-wet-behind-the-ears Chief Executive. ” So I think on that one, I trump you.”

Oh, it’s very possible the Crower-in-Chief addressed both the rocker and the senator while flashing that globe-renowned, megawatt smile. I’m sure he (and his Obama-can-do-no-wrong apologists) would insist he was teasing; and maybe he was. At best, though, it was a taunting tease — and that’s not cool. Even when it’s delivered by the  “coolest” bi-ped who’s ever graced the political sphere. Especially when the taunter has been just freshly elected (or re-elected). Especially when it seems to be part of a disconcerting pattern. 

Because, of course, unprofessional, juvenile jibing is not new to our 44th president. Yes, there’s the aforementioned graceless triumphalism; but Barack Obama has distinguished himself additionally with other manifestations of puerility, pettiness and prickliness. 

Take being “thin-skinned”, for example. It’s a modifier one frequently finds associated with his name. 

Recall during Obama’s first presidential campaign, when the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd had floated a reference about the  then still-widely-unknown Illinois Senator’s prominent ears. Soon after, at a Portsmouth, NH press conference, the candidate tracked down the commentator: “I just wanna put you on notice,” he informed her. “I’m very sensitive; I was teased relentlessly when I  was a kid about my big ears.” 

Wanna put you on notice“? Seems those pre-pubescent pangs are very much dogging Barack Obama; steering him into some decidedly unflattering and mildly menacing middle-aged contretemps. 

He’s displayed an alarmingly discourteous tin-ear toward some of our most vital allies. Out of the chute — barely a month into term one — he slighted our British friends, churlishly returning to the British Embassy a bust of Sir Winston Churchill that had been on loan to the Bush Oval Office since shortly after the 9/11 attacks. 

Don’t forget how, on more than one occasion, he’s petulantly snubbed Bibi Netanyahu: the Israeli Prime Minister wasn’t satisfactorily towing the Obama administration’s line regarding the tortuous snarl that is the Middle East. So, the Leader of the Free World threw a couple of diplomatic mini-tantrums. (That’ll show him!

And have our Chief Executive’s adolescent inclinations found a better showcase than the most pivotal events of  2012’s race for the White House:  the three presidential debates?  Like a sulky fourth-grader coerced into giving a requisite oral report in front of the class, BHO listlessly pouted his way through face-off number one. It was a self-pityingly lackluster outing which contributed inordinately to a decisive Romney victory. 

Visibly irked by the stomping he’d endured, the president showed up for the second round practically coming out of his skin: manically popping on and off his stool the entire ninety minutes, barreling toward the edge of the dais while answering the townhall-style questions, pugnaciously interrupting his GOP challenger at every opportunity. 

The final debate? I watched mystified, incredulous, as camera shot after camera shot captured our Oval Office occupant glaring — glowering, actually — at Mitt Romney. Affecting his most persuasive street-punk expression, for minutes on end Obama locked on the Governor an unblinkingly creepy,  how-dare-you-disagree-with-me death-stare.

As much as I part ways with pretty much everything he believes, I felt a twinge of embarrassment for Barack Obama that night; and for our nation: a 51 year old grown-up, aping high-school-drop-out thugishness? In front of millions of world-wide viewers? The fellow we’ve freely selected (twice now!) to be the official face of the United States. 

Someone has observed that Americans prefer their leaders demonstrate a certain generosity of spirit. Perhaps that’s not the case any longer? Again, roughly 64 million ballot-casters would suggest as much. 

Increasingly however, when I find myself repelled by Obama’s latest gaucherie, I remember photos I’ve seen of a beautiful little boy — four, five years old? — laughing on a beach . He’s lit up with delight, playing in the surf as would any little one. And he’s Barack Obama.

He’d already been abandoned by his drunken, tom-catting father; and was in the process of being lugged around the planet or deposited with his grandparents by his academic-hippie mother. Well before the “Choom Gang” nonsense or his fraternizing with communist Frank Marshall Davis or critical race theorist Derrick Bell, on that beach he was still, simply, an adorable, cluelessly innocent kid. 

I wouldn’t wish that little guy’s checkered, vagabond childhood on any person. It goes a long way, I’d guess, toward explaining the exasperating self-absorption, the hair-trigger arrogance, the hypersensitivity that currently characterize an adult Barack Obama.

I pray, honestly, he finds the healing his psyche so plainly needs; the repair for his wounded identity.

But it remains America’s misfortune that Obama has chosen two stints in the Oval Office as his primary course of therapy.  

Image: Sigmund Freud; courtesy of Max Halberstadt;The New York Times; public domain

Steve Pauwels

Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.