Earlier this month while visiting Monticello with a French delegation that included socialist President François Hollande, President Obama was caught in a moment joking about breaking protocol to view the grounds, quipping, “That’s the good thing as a President, I can do whatever I want.” Forget the enormity of the irony; an American President joking at Thomas Jefferson’s home that rules don’t apply to him and give Obama the benefit of the doubt that this was just a casual line.
It was no different than a line Michael Douglas would say in The American President or Kevin Kline in Dave or Martin Sheen in The West Wing, and that’s exactly the point. Obama has become a President of good lines from movies but unable to act like a very real leader.
The reason for the uproar over comments like this from this President is because he never wastes an opportunity to show just how right the absurdness of the social media noise machine is. When Obama jokes about being able to do whatever he wants, then turns around and hits an HBO producer up at a State Dinner for advanced copies of television shows to get him through an extended weekend, how are we as a desperate electorate supposed to react? We tolerate the luxuries afforded to our leaders. Just don’t be a dick about it.
How is a world currently engulfed in flames of revolution supposed to react?
The problem for a President who makes any excuse to hit up a golf course or admits to watching tons of HBO is there are still events in the world happening outside his windows. People are desperate for American leadership and can’t wait for the killer on True Detective to be revealed.
Nobody in Kiev is interested in the fallout of the Red Wedding.
Nobody in Venezuela cares about the fate of Zoe Barnes.
Obama and his administration can’t wait to inject themselves into pop culture as it suits their narratives. If Lego Movie is number one at the box office, the Secretary of State is referencing global warming to 3D movies. If the Super Bowl is trending on social media, out come the football analogies. Michelle Obama is on Jimmy Fallon’s new Tonight Show and Joe Biden on Seth Meyer’s follow up. Actors pushing health care that they themselves refuse to sign up for. What message does it send the world when cries for democracy in Ukraine and Venezuela are met with silence, but tweeting about a cable show is paramount?
Barack Obama is the first President optimized for SEO and therein lies the problem. When #Venezuela and #Kiev are the top trends on Twitter for two days straight and not #HouseOfCards or #TrueDetective, the online persona machine that elected Barack Obama goes dark and resorts to a spam account selling us crappy insurance.
At the height of violence that erupted with both protests this past weekend, where was he? Hosting a Hollywood premiere style party for #GeorgeClooney and cast of his film #TheMonumentsMen, in private at the White House, simply because he could. Right now in Kiev, historical statues and art are being burned in front of the world. He was content to remain silent and watch a movie about it happening instead. The real world does not interest this President. The set design does.
@BarackObama (an account run by these people) can tweet about House of Cards Spoilers but can’t be bothered to tweet a statement condemning violence from the regimes in Kiev and Venezuela and sign it -bo. Meanwhile millions of people globally are captivated by the live streams and Hugoesque images of revolution.
If Barack Obama is going to be a viral President, he can’t simply sit out the events of the world as he chooses. The coming out announcement of a former college and future NFL football star cannot outweigh events that have captivated the entire world for two days and cost people their blood and lives.
The same goes for his complex of dying network media defenders. If Occupy Wall St. and their twisted logic deserve prime time coverage by NBC, CBS and ABC, why not pro democracy rallies happening simultaneously in two different corners of the world? Instead, we’re stuck with Sunday morning show hosts drooling over Kevin Spacey. The networks become no different than the governments of those nations instituting blackouts. The desperate attempt to remain relevant and cool is accompanied now by a heavy vacuum of leadership in exactly the one country on the Earth it can’t have one in.
This is the eventual dilemma with electing a President under the superstar celebrity, media driven premise that Barack Obama was. Remember in 2008, this was not about electing another American politician to the Presidency. This was a citizen of the world, drawing outdoor crowds of over 70,000 people. This was a transcendence, not an election.
Candidate Obama stepped up in front of the world and told us that this was the time we all began to heal. All over the world the same nations that yesterday believed this mysterious Kryptonian figure, now ignore him for the thrill of a molotov cocktail. Nations all over the world have rejected his movie speeches of peace and prosperity for his more clear, instinctual desires of social upheaval.
Why is this President, elected because of a hope he promised in front of the world, so content to sit it out instead?
Is he bored? Does massive public upheaval not interest him if it does not serve his political ends? Does it remind him that everything is in fact, not awesome?
I wrote about this very thing last August when riots escalated in Egypt and the Administration’s top officials were all on vacation except for Joe Biden, who was talking to a camel. I’m forced to raise it again because of the current calamities in the Ukraine and Venezuela and here the country is once again forced to reconcile a disinterested President, completely unengaged with the moment as it unfolds in front of the rest of us. Instead he’s focusing on the weather, truck fuel and George Clooney.
Once again, on opposite sides of the globe thousands of people took to the streets of their respective nations demanding change from the heavy handed governments they have been suffering under. Right between these two uprisings sits the United States, with a historical American President who has a Nobel Peace Prize sitting on his mantle collecting dust.
And he’s watching HBO.
Railing on about growing income inequality one day, while the next hosting a lavish State Dinner for an open socialist. Two men committed to taxing the success right out of their countries while celebrating their own in luxury, all while our media commanding us to #BOWDOWN to the queen. Optics matter.
Flying to California to blame a drought on Global Warming right before spending the entire afternoon golfing in it, while also using a separate airliner to fly bills for him to sign, matters.
Remaining silent on casualties of uprisings not aligned with our President’s personal philosophies, matters. Thousands of people right now in Venezuela and Kiev are risking their lives – 140 characters at a time.
Barack Obama uses his Twitter account to talk about magnets.
His personal statement on Kiev finally came yesterday while visiting Mexico, warning the Ukrainian Government, “There will be consequences if people step over the line.” Four days after the violence had reached a zenith, resulting in the reported deaths of 25 people in Kiev and 9 in Venezuela.
What line exactly is left to be crossed Mr. President?
He’s content to ride the worst of these situations out until the very end when he issues his stern warning and then can claim credit for tempering the situation. Until then, hey Girls is on!
If these examples seem absurd, it’s because they are and no one should have to be making them, but over and over again, we are. Barack Obama went in front of the world and told it that he would heal it. Six years later, there is not a single corner of the Earth that is better off than when he spoke those words.
Not even Winterfell.
- SM -