woody_zimmerman_118_2007At various times I have characterized President Obama’s re-election campaign as “ugly” and perversely keyed to “moronic” voters who don’t seem to realize that they are being played for suckers. But even that seems passé now. Gone are the great, soaring themes of Hope, Change and “Yes, we Can!” Lately, I have begun to think of the Obama-campaign as more depressing than anything else.

I say this because Mr. Obama’s campaign has now moved into an offensive based on distortions and outright falsehoods so grotesque that they are difficult to respond to seriously. His latest line is to posture himself as the most fiscally restrained president in history, based on numbers touted by his PR flack, Jay Carney. Oh, the numbers are genuine, all right, but Mr. Carney and others have rigged them by assigning all FY2009 spending to President Geo. W. Bush – thereby making it appear that a high spending-baseline was already in place when Mr. Obama took office. In the revised historical narrative, Mr. Obama has merely continued spending at levels already set by Mr. Bush – thus making it appear that Mr. Obama’s spending has increased less than for any other president in recent times.

In reality, no such “baseline” had been established because Mr. Bush actually signed only three of the twelve appropriations bills for FY2009, which ended on September 30, 2009. The high-spending baseline established in FY2009 consisted mostly of budget items authorized by Mr. Obama, including the $800+ billion “stimulus bill.”

Most pundits and commentators have had a jovial week of guffawing over this latest Obama whopper. This has included no less than the Washington Post, which awarded the report three “pinnochios” – its waggish measure for blatant fibs – after fact-checking the account for veracity and finding it wanting.

Oh yes, “yee-hah!” What a whopper. Isn’t it rich? Who does that little man behind the curtain think he’s fooling? Har-de-har har! Isn’t this fun? (OK, I just spent a week in the hospital, so maybe my funny-bone is impaired – hopefully, not an irreversible condition.)

My problem here – and not just my problem, but our problem – is that this garbanzo is coming from a sitting president of the USA, who is running for re-election. Supposedly, he is a serious man. He is not down at the Gridiron Club or the National Correspondents’ Dinner zinging one-liners. His public statements are (supposedly) serious representations of his policies and governance.

My characterization of all this as “depressing” has three foundations: i.e.,

  1. Mr. Obama might actually believe it, himself.
  2. He knows a significant part of his electoral “base” will believe it, if he says it.
  3. An influential faction of voters knows his claims are false, but they will countenance the falsehoods in order to get him re-elected.

I offer some brief discussion of these points, as follows.

Obama believes. I listed these reasons in no particular order, but one can’t help noting that the first of the three is arguably the most alarming and depressing, since it would mean that Mr. Obama is so far off the rails that he can no longer parse truth from falsehood. This would run counter to my own proclivities, which include a natural reluctance to infer that an individual is not intelligent. I find that giving the benefit of the doubt is almost always the best policy.

Big Media – staunchly in Mr. Obama’s corner from early days of his energence – has proclaimed Mr. Obama the Smartest Man in the World, possibly the Smartest Man Who Has Ever Lived. A few pundits have actually ascribed god-like omniscience to him. Some combination of these has been accepted as virtual holy writ through his entire presidency, so it takes a certain temerity to question this formidable weight of opinion.

On the other hand, is it credible that a former Community Organizer who won’t even release his college transcripts is really as smart as all that? I’m not the first to raise this point, and I don’t think I’ll be the last. Just ask yourself this: of all the people in your past who seemed impossibly bright and capable, how many have you later found to be wanting in some academic subject or discipline? My experience (which is considerable) teaches me that nobody is ever as smart as all that. “Benefit of the Doubt” or not, let’s stipulate that we all have feet of clay. It’s even possible that The One might have a blind spot concerning his own presidency. But, as I said, it would be “depressing” to learn that this is so.

Mindless followers. I don’t know if it’s a bit less depressing to realize that Mr. Obama is supported by a cadre of sycophants who swallow his every utterance as Gospel. That is demonstrably true, however, and it ought to give us serious heartburn. Since early days of the republic our Founders recognized that an educated, fully aware electorate must be the foundation of a sound, successful nation. We simply cannot build on a population of dunces who don’t know one thing from another with respect to basic finance, social interaction and governance.

Naturally, we can’t all be experts in these matters, so we count on electing competent leaders who will tell us the truth in graspable terms. More to the point, we have a right to expect that our highest leaders, such as the president, will not tell deliberate falsehoods that may be politically advantageous to them, but furnish us nothing useful. If the president can rely on a body of followers who will believe whatever he says, then we have entered a new, dangerous era of traveling through uncharted Dark Territory.

Cynical true believers. Beyond Mr. Obama’s proclivity to believe his own press-clippings, as well as the sycophants who hang on his every word, is a third group that brings my personal depression to a new low. The latter consists of people who don’t buy Mr. Obama’s words, but what he stands for. In truth, they are cynics willing to countenance any level of dishonesty in Mr. Obama’s discourse in order to continue him in office and keep his programs and governance in force. This is truly the “politics of cynicism” at its worst – an appalling corruption of unknown scope. The jury is still out on whether the republic can withstand this disastrous erosion of its foundation.

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Personal Note: Thanks to all of my readers who offered prayers for my health during my recent illness and hospitalization. (The diagnosis was pneumonia, congestive heart failure and atrial flutter.) Narrow escape, but recovering. WZ