Thursday, February 5, 2009

Early Admissions

The Obama administration's early days reminds me of a typical American experience; the arc of emotion and events that begins with college acceptance and ends sometime before 2nd year when you finally feel like an actual student.

The positive suspension of expectation that occurs after opening the beautiful acceptance letter lasts for several months. Your parents get off your case and glow with pride, your classmates are either mutually content or sickly jealous, and high school suddenly seems a hell of a lot smaller. This, in fact, is the true Honeymoon Period, where you feel accomplished and promising, yet you have to do zero work.

Inevitably this gives way to a less comforting and far more sharply defined reality, namely Orientation Week (+/- 5 days). Despite your mindset or hours spent watching movies that take place on college campuses, this transition period is characterized by disorientation, anxiety, and clumsy unconvincing attempts at adaptation. For some those attempts are limited to a quiet attendance of classes, a head-down bee line walk between class, dorm and dining hall, and the rest of the day spent in your room with your new assigned friend.

Others however, and this is the template Obama falls under, take a more aggressive tack. In convincing other people that he belongs there, he can convince himself. He is the student who raises his hand regardless of information, opinion, or expertise. The one who senses the timidity of the student body and rises above it with volume. He asks obvious questions, raises points that are neither helpful nor a hindrance to the conversation, and most importantly panders to his audience.

For instance in a Gender Studies class he knows the demographics so well he would never say "I'm sorry to interrupt Professor, but I don't agree that the words 'paranoid' and 'melodramatic' are code words used in sexual discrimination. In fact in my experience the world today, and especially our nation, is pretty evolved and in most cases beyond such petty grievances. It seems to only exist in academia as a topic of rigorous study and debate with little real life application."

No, no that wouldn't do. If he truly wanted to solidify his place in the intellectual existence and activity of his new surroundings, he would try a very different approach. "The male dominance that occurs in all parts of societies also impacts women in the sexual realms, repressing their identities and consciousnesses to such an extent that, as Irigaray or the Radicalesbians say, female homosexuality is possibly the only means for a woman's sexual and personal awakening."

That's liberal arts gold. Not because its kinda hyperbolic, fluffy, BS I just made up, but because it panders to its obviously left-leaning audience.

Obama has a masters degree in pandering. Well, at least I think he does but as so many of his school records have yet to be released, who knows for sure. (We do know he didn't have a high enough GPA as an undergrad in Harvard to have honors, a considerable achievement considering their grade inflation, but what we're told to focus on is his magna cum laudatory from law school.) Obama probably thrashed around uncomfortably in the halls and green lawns of university life much less than the rest of us, adjusting easily to the valued characteristics of ego, righteousness and victimhood. After Hawaii and Indonesia his skin color was suddenly more noticable and significantly more bankable, as it gave weight to everything he said, even comments unrelated to race as most liberal arts professors harbor and propagate a massive dollop of white guilt. Academia was Obama's wheelhouse, and his arrogance and success grew in leaps and bounds, carrying him to the highest office in the land.

Now that he is there, however, things aren't going as he expected. The media, so content spending a decade as the opposition and tarring and feathering his predecessor, have suddenly realized they can't write the same hopeychange stories his whole term, and are beginning to criticize and question and actually report. His staff of modern day Davids, of PowerBook carrying and white chocolate mocha drinking recent graduates, are suddenly out of their element as they find themselves in actual jobs, with actual desks and hours and duties, as opposed to buses and blogs and facebook campaigns. They flub and they flail, and they try to pretend they're back in college, the freshman walking tall like a senior hoping no one will notice.

But we notice. It is obvious. Obama has had two weeks of consecutive failures and embarassments. The amateur nature of his people and himself is startling to many who claimed Jesus too was a community organizer. (Doesn't mean Jesus ever worked on Windows XP.) Now in a time of crisis, elevated to false 'catastrophe', he returns to his default mode of pandering by attacking a common enemy of all people who share his ideology; rich white dudes. First Limbaugh, now Wall Street, Obama is actively choosing his battles and choosing the wrong ones.

The President of the United States of America does not take on private citizens, does not control a specific profession's salary, does not joke about Jessica Simpson, does not only offer platitudes and prophesies of doom at a time of debate and confrontation. He does not minimize the power and reach of his office by continuing campaign rhetoric and playing to his base. Those are the methods of a college student trying to fit in, trying to find their way in a new environment, in a higher echelon of life and personal accomplishment.

So far the transition from University of Chicago Politics to the Washington White House Grad School has been disastrous. But to be fair most freshman make a few missteps in their early days. The ones who can't recover, however, end up increasing the transfer rate.

Unfortunately Obama has nowhere else to go. He's reached the top, and hopefully the years will fly by before he fully realizes the scope of his power. Or else we might see an executive order mandating female homosexuality and naming Harvard as the center for government of the north east.

Beware the cocky academic who can talk for hours and not say anything. And notice how the camera exposes them the longer they continue speaking.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the rhetorical sweep, and thought the college entrance perspective worked really well..the only confusing note was the reference to lesbianism, which came out of the blue, as least for me.
    Not persuaded, but impressed.