Stephen Cable: Pining for the imaginary man

I was reading the Weekend Australian last Saturday and came across an article in the magazine supplement about the former US President, Barack Obama.

The article was titled ‘Disappearing Act’ by Gabriel Debenedetti, which originally appeared in the New York Magazine in June under the title Where Is Barack ObamaThe most popular American, whose legacy is the primary target of Donald Trump, has, for now, virtually disappeared from public life’.

The article was complete with flattering photos of the former President looking thoughtful, playful, husbandful, the way the media rarely portrayed Bush or the current President. The imagery in the original story is even more sycophantic, going through the motions the media employed during Obama’s presidency with more pictures showing him as the coolest guy on the planet.

The piece was a fascinating read. Not because it was new, insightful or accurate but because it gives an excellent window into the mindset of left leaning journalists and their view of the world. The unexamined assumptions, the certainty of belief that they speak for the American mainstream and most of all, their love affair with an imaginary man that never really existed.

It is in the main a pouty article, whinging about how Obama isn’t doing much to help out the democrats, protect his legacy or help get other democrats elected. Sad I know but there you are. It starts out with how concerned Obama was with Trump giving an overtly political speech at a Boy Scout Jamboree (read on his iPad no less, cool insert there) commenting on how impressionable children were at that age. I suppose he’d have been less concerned if Trump had been telling them who could and couldn’t use what bathrooms in their schools, which apparently is fine.

Here are a few of the highlights to give you some of the flavour of the author’s concepts. Put on some of that sad sounding violin music in the background you hear in documentaries as you listen and you’ll get an idea of how you were meant to feel while reading it.

Where is the man who cried after Sandy Hook and sang in Charleston, who after each mass shooting tried to soothe an outraged nation, who spoke of American values in his travels across the globe? And, tactically, what is behind the relative silence of one of the most popular figures alive just as American politics appears to so many to be on the brink of breaking?

Most popular figure alive? sure if you’re conducting a survey at ABC headquarters in Ultimo. The suggestion that American politics is breaking is total nonsense from someone who’s been drinking from his own perpetual outrage fountain.

And while he often says he misses the day-to-day work of fixing people’s problems, he has even less patience for day-to-day politics than he did as president.

Not sure what definition of ‘fixing’ is being used here. Perhaps the Chicago politics style of ‘fixing people’ is in mind.

One of Obama’s friends repeatedly described the former president as newly “Zen-like,” a striking descriptor given that Obama’s impossible calm has been a hallmark of his entire time on the national stage.

“Zen-like”, as in a self absorbed trance, completely unaware of the damage you’re doing to everyone around you? Perhaps it’s more like someone in an alcoholic stupor, completely unaware of how much pain you’re causing to others in your life?

To those who’ve known him longest, his confidence in the decision not to wade back into the political muck is the product of the same hyper-self-aware posture he’s had since childhood, growing up straddling worlds and then writing a book about himself in his 30s.

Hyper-self-absorbed would more accurate. Anyone who thinks they’re so awesome in their 30s that they need a book about themselves must have a god-sized ego. If he were Pitt the Younger or Alexander the Great maybe, but a law professor in a regular law professor career, nah.

According to Eric Holder, Obama’s really encouraged:

But I think it’s really been true — we’ve had conversations about this — he’s been encouraged by the amount of progressive energy he’s seen around the country.”

This is code language for the usual suspects, organising the usual outrage fests with the usual fawning media coverage, so pretty much nada. If that’s your encouragement when the current administration is eviscerating your legacy, you are truly desperate. Apparently, some democrat operatives want him to get arrested as this will really help things:

On the immigration stuff, if he were willing to go way over the line and get arrested, or something way out there, that would be a galvanizing event,” says one frustrated leading Democratic operative in the midst of the 2018 campaigns.

Yep, that’d help. Please do.

He’s been careful not to appear to be playing at international diplomacy, but people close to him believe his presence is often intended as a reassurance that the world isn’t about to end.

Without doubt, this is the funniest line in the entire article. According to the author, world leaders (who Obama visits now and again) need assurance from The Great One that the world isn’t about to end….. for some unspecified reason. Perhaps I’m unimaginative but I just can’t imagine president Xi Jinping wringing his hands, waiting for his special visit this week. What is far more likely is that most governmental leaders are just actually being polite to him and by extension to the American people.

Party organizers have begun complaining that his focus on his foundation is sapping the coffers they’re desperately trying to tap….. Nobody expects him to be out there bashing Trump or being on the campaign trail every day. But to be sucking up resources now is just tone-deaf, and self-serving.”

It appears that Silicon Valley is giving more money to Obama’s library than to democrat candidates and that’s really unfortunate according to the author. Either the general public isn’t interested in giving too much of their own money or the new laws restricting compulsory union membership in the public sector is severely constricting the massive tidal wave of union money regularly doled out to democrats.

None of the above is any surprise to anyone who regularly watches politics and doesn’t let the monolithic media filter distort their vision. For Obama, it is all about Obama. It was all about his greatness as a candidate, it was all about his greatness as a president and now it’s all about his greatness as an organiser (again).

I remember following the rising candidacy of Obama with bewilderment.

Something very unusual was happening in that presidential election that had rarely happened before, at least not in my lifetime. A major political party was putting forward a candidate for presidential office with almost nothing in the way of significant achievement, either personally or in some field of endeavour. Normally presidents are those who have gained experience in some real area of life and are a proven quantity, whether it be winning a world war (like Eisenhower) or reaching significant political office, such as a governorship (like Carter or Bush). Obama had nothing to offer other than rhetoric and some books, and the results show for themselves. Obama is happy and back to doing what he love most, living in a world of books, theories and talking, something he’s really good at. The democrats can get as frustrated as they like but it won’t change a thing and the man they imagined him to be is gone, like a mirage in a desert.

And herein lies the real problem with author’s contentions with Obama now. He is pining for an imaginary man, a man of great ability that was never there, a man never deeply scrutinized by an adoring media, a man who tried desperately to achieve his radical goals through the administrative state and presidential decree.

The Obama administration was the most overruled by the US Supreme Court in modern history. Even his own appointments like Kagen and Sotomayer have ruled against him multiple times. In fact he has lost unanimously before the Supreme Court fifty per cent more than his two immediate predecessors. A truly stunning indictment for someone who is meant to be a constitutional law professor, but such is the clash with reality when you constantly overreach your authority. But that is only part of his disastrous administration. He added US$8 trillion to the US national debt. Even his most fervent supporters at the New York Times admit he used bureaucratic bulldozing to try and get his way resulting in the Congress and the Supreme Court constantly blocking him. The federal agencies such as the IRS became like caricatures of a banana republic as they singled out and persecuted conservative political groups. There was the disastrous Iran Deal, the criminal Fast and Furious program, Benghazi and the persecution of  whistleblowers, more than double that of all previous presidents combined.

A lot of it reminds me of the mythologising of the Kennedy administration. Shortly after his assassination, within a week apparently, Jackie Kennedy spun a great tale about JFK’s 1,000 days in office and finished with a quote from Kennedy’s favourite musical, Camelot:”Don’t let it be forgot, that for one brief, shining moment there was Camelot”. From that moment on there was no stopping the media machine, no matter the level of Kennedy’s achievements, or otherwise, he would be forever eulogised.

When it comes to the hard-nosed realities of politics, politicians invariably promise more than can be delivered. Gaining and keeping power is always the true goal and is often the goal most achievable. Likewise, there is always an element of dreaming that voters read into what can be achieved by those who are making the promises and this is particularly the case with the left as they always have the more radical goals to achieve. This was probably more true with Obama than any other politician before.

He promised good jobs to the jobless but it was Trump that made progress on that front. He said that his rise to power would slow the oceans rise and heal the planet yet did nothing of the sort because such things are beyond the power of any mortal. He promised social utopia and delivered more racial division than any politician for a generation. The media’s problem isn’t really with Obama’s lack of action in the current political fray, it is a problem with reality. The reality of an inexperienced man who promised the New Jerusalem and delivered downtown Chicago.

There is an important lesson here for Australian politics. More and more we are seeing party operatives and machine men put forward for election. Oftentimes these people have uncanny similarities to Obama; little real world experience, often having gone from university to political or union jobs, not learning how to negotiate real life but how to negotiate a factional deal. These people are very keen to make taxation rules that apply to others without ever having to suffer the consequences of those decisions themselves. They live in the world of theory, the world of intersectionality, a realm of grievance appeasement and media tomfoolery. Always seeking a headline instead of making headway. People such as this make appalling decisions as our current energy debacle clearly shows. A person who knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet and pay a power bill (without access to a slush fund) would be far less likely to implement an energy policy that has tripled power bills, no matter how much they are badgered by journalists and politicians. If you get the impression that politicians live in an alternative reality, you’re partly right, they do. The Westminster system doesn’t allow for such larger-than-life creations like Obama but we can learn from the mistake. Don’t allow the media to create distorted figures for public consumption, be suspicious if they show no interest in what they’ve actually achieved and always attempt to deflect your attention to their future promises. You’ll save yourself and your children immense heartache, difficulty and cost.

Stephen Cable is the Federal President of CCfA and writes for Liberty Works in Brisbane’.

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24 Responses to Stephen Cable: Pining for the imaginary man

  1. Cassie of Sydney

    “The reality of an inexperienced man who promised the New Jerusalem and delivered downtown Chicago”.

    A very good description of the fraud called Obama and his catastrophic legacy.

  2. Habib

    The cult of personality is ingrained in the left, they deify their chosen figureheads, despite their many flaws and failures, and will never admit fault or folly. Even complete disasters like Gillard are held up as shining beacons of probity and courageous warriors for the greater good when at their least malevolent they were incompetent hacks barely clinging on to employment at the most venal pack of ambulance-chasing pettifoggers in the nation. If it’s not a neurological disorder it’s certainly a symptom of extreme, bovine stupidity.

  3. Tom

    Thanks, Stephen Cable, for an incisive summary of the Obama disaster and why journalists, because of their political leanings, are the most gullible of all.

    And thank you, Obama, the Alinskyist activist who wondered whether it would be possible use the mass media’s love of communism and hatred of America to game the system all the way to the White House.

    Were it not for Obama’s incompetence and anti-Americanism, there would have been no Trump presidency and we would never have so quickly realised the news media’s primary allegiance is to the political left, not the public interest.

  4. RobK

    Great post. The title encapsulates well.

  5. a happy little debunker

    Obama stayed in Washington ( the 93% blue) and works out of offices shared with the WWF headquarters and lives 2 doors down from john Podesta (

    Despite being a former Chicago senator he signalled he would remain in DC to organise the ‘resistance’ – ostensibly in DC that is called ‘deep state’.

    As Lord Business once observed ‘No more Mr Nice Guy!’

  6. Dr Fred Lenin

    Look guys if someone gave you $30 million dollars not to write a book would you hang about? No way ,you disappear,keep the head down and don’t attract attention,you like being rich and don’t want to lose it,keep the head down and Trump might not set the forensic accountants and coppers on you .
    I am thinking on writing a book gloryfying the great Jooliar Giliard showing how honest , hardworking cultured and caring she is ,and promoting her great love of “ejjykayshin “ and great works at the clinton crime foundation and untidy nayshuns . I hope to have it published by the alpbc and make swags of cash and when the bullshitten mob get in,huge guvmint grants to write about other alp heroes . My ambition is to be rich like most socialist workers for fairness .

  7. Robbo

    Oh for crying out loud let’s cut with all the bullshit and demand that the Pope canonise Obama now. Just think of it the worlds only living saint. With all that he did he certainly deserves to be at least a saint. Another thought bubble has exploded in my head. What about we get this magnificent bloke to start a new religion. The BO Church is an apt name.

  8. Fat Tony

    #2764580, posted on July 16, 2018 at 12:16 pm
    Oh for crying out loud let’s cut with all the bullshit and demand that the Pope canonise Obama now. Just think of it the worlds only living saint. With all that he did he certainly deserves to be at least a saint. Another thought bubble has exploded in my head. What about we get this magnificent bloke to start a new religion. The BO Church is an apt name.

    Now Robbo – don’t get carried away. What’s the islamic version of saint?

  9. jock

    A prancing shallow spiv who gave little except other people money in his white house years. It would be interesti g if the US gun death statistics per million were reworked to excise obamas home town, the gun controlled chicago. I would be surprised if once these were removed that the average would be more like those for the rest of us. Btw am not oro gun.

  10. stevem

    There is an important lesson here for Australian politics. More and more we are seeing party operatives and machine men put forward for election

    Unfortunately my take on this is possibly the reverse of yours. The message our politicians will take is that these very people are the ones that will win them elections and lead them to the power they crave. The Obama effect will only debase politics even further.

  11. Shane

    Fat Tony, we already have a very high profile, much loved islamic saint appearing almost daily on TV here in Victoria, giving us all instruction on how things should be.
    There are similarities both in appearance & preaching tone between them both, though ours doesn’t play golf or fool quite as many people. though he too has been an academic at a major university.

    [Walī (Arabic: ولي‎, plural ʾawliyāʾ أولياء) is an Arabic word whose literal meanings include “custodian”, “protector”, “helper”, and “friend”. In the vernacular, it is most commonly used by Muslims to indicate an Islamic saint, otherwise referred to by the more literal “friend of God”.]

    Personally, I feel that one saint is more than enough to handle.
    No more, please.

  12. Fat Tony

    #2764662, posted on July 16, 2018 at 1:27 pm
    Personally, I feel that one saint is more than enough to handle.
    No more, please.

    But but but…..he’d be on the other side of the world. It would bring balance.

    Ummmm….think of the children??

  13. Dr Fred Len

    Can’t be much of a resistance with this Prat obummer leading it,probably a mix of dole bludgers ,incompetent public servants and crony socialist billionaires ,not a fighter amongst them .
    I had a relative in Normandy wounded in the first war and decorated with the Croix de Guerre for bravery . Became Mayor of his home town after the fall of France he was taken hostage to be shot by the Germans as retribution , he broke one guards neck and battered another to death with a spade escaped and went south where his family had fled after his arrest , he became a leader of resistance in the Maquis ,causing the deaths of many collaborators and German invaders and destruction of trains aand truck with German war materials
    When the allies landed he joined up with the Free French and entered Paris with De Gaulle he was awarded the Legion of Honour. Back home he was Mayor and a successful business man ,Monsieur Gaspard everyone called him ,he died aged 75 a highly respected and loved citizen of his beloved France , now that IS resistance ,putting your life on the line,all obummers mob will be in danger of is jail time when their past comes to light .+

  14. Petros

    A teleprompter would eventually fail and he would be left floundering.

  15. David Archibald

    Great article. The Russians have been involved in the US electoral process for decades. Obama was the fruit of a long term KGB influence operation:

  16. H B Bear

    A teleprompter would eventually fail and he would be left floundering.

    You mean like this?

  17. Egor

    Whitey and Hispanics must have got a hint when the Magic Negro stated that he attended the black racist Rev Wright’s Trinity church (sic) for 20 years and never heard the documented continuous racist hate speech therein.
    An ex Pres destined to do great things for his people: the hearing impaired.

  18. Delta A

    There is an important lesson here for Australian politics.

    Especially with people like Photios pulling the strings of the LNP.

    Great post, Stephen Cable.

  19. stackja

    Media in particular The Oz created Gough. Then came Kevin.

  20. stackja

    Delta A – voters who believe spin deserve the pain.

  21. iain russell

    With you, except that Eisenhower ‘helped’ to win a world war. There was a large cast of characters involved, including 11 million Soviet soldiers killed or missing, and millions more civilians. Let’s not get into disputed casualty figures and the role of Stalin etc but WWII was not a US victory – the Allies won it.

  22. Delta A

    voters who believe spin deserve the pain.

    You’re right, of course, stackja. Unfortunately, the pain will be felt by all, the gullible and the discerning.

  23. Entropy

    Well, apart from doing as little as possible Obama has been awarded a production contract with Netflix to make shows about social issues. You know, ones he was interested in while President.
    That swamp member and dem operative Susan Rice is on the Netflix board has nothing to do with it of course.

  24. BorisG

    I disagree with the majority of Obama policies but sadly he is indeed rather popular. He was quite po9pular in the US in 2016 and would have likely beat Trump if he were allowed to stand (Hillary was only slightly behind Trump and she was far less popular than Obama on the same polls). He would definitely get more black voters who did not bother to turn out for Clinton.

    Due to his failures on a number of fronts, Obama is now far less popular with his base in the US than he was in 2008 (ironically, because in their mind he is far to the right of their expectations). But around the world, he is quite popular, especially among people whose knowledge of Obama is limited to a few photos photos and one or two speeches (if at all).

    So he might indeed be one of the most popular humans in the planet. Sad but true.

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