William Katz has his own, very interesting, blog at Urgent Agenda. However, he saves his long posts for Power Line and this time he has a doozy about the many ways in which Obama is not JFK. Since Katz lived a life that was front and center at many historical events in the second half of the 20th Century, what he says has the resonance, not just of scholarship, but of personal knowledge. I particularly liked these thoughts about the great chasm between JFK and BHO:
Kennedy had a wry, ironic sense of humor. I’ve never heard Obama say anything even vaguely humorous, and that worries me. Lincoln was known for cracking jokes. So was FDR. Reagan was famous for it. I wonder about a man like Obama who seems to take himself so very, very seriously, and to regard every word as golden.
Kennedy, when he ran in 1960, was widely seen as too inexperienced for the presidency, especially by Eleanor Roosevelt, who questioned his record publicly. Yet, Kennedy’s experience towers over Obama’s. Kennedy had served in Congress for 13 years. He’d been elected twice to the Senate. True, his record had not been outstanding, and he hadn’t been considered a Senate leader. True, he’d had a dalliance with McCarthyism. But he’d also seemed to grow in stature, had a decent war record, and had watched history firsthand as the son of the American ambassador to Britain in the years leading up to World War II.
Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004, and has been running for president ever since. His record is thin. In the one national office he has held, he has been decidedly undistinguished. He clearly lacks Kennedy’s sophistication on foreign policy and knowledge of history. I don’t recall Kennedy having to fire one adviser after another, or having to explain statement after statement. I do recall that Kennedy had a catastrophic first year in office, despite his background. He blundered at the Bay of Pigs. He was rolled by Khrushchev at the Vienna Conference only months later. I shudder to think of a President Obama sitting down with the dictators he seems so eager to engage. What will he tell them? “I’m the change you’ve been waiting for”?
Finally, there is an issue of personal quality. Kennedy, with all his failings, with his scandalous private habits, with the arrogance of privilege that sometimes touched him, had an ability to look at himself. He knew he’d failed in that first year. He said so. And he had the dignity and understanding of power to acknowledge publicly what had happened. He was asked at a press conference to assess blame for the Bay of Pigs. Whose fault was it? He replied, “I am the responsible officer of the government.”
When something goes wrong in the Obama Crusade, Obama normally attributes it to staff problems. History, if he becomes president, will read his blunders differently.
That bit about the sense of humor struck me particularly strongly. Two of the greatest presidents ever — Lincoln and Reagan — were also two of the funniest, in large part because they could be self-deprecating. While they had the necessary ego to believe they could lead a great nation, neither took himself too seriously.
Obama, however, believes his own hype and is utterly humorless in defense of his own wonderfulness. As you recall, he threw Wright off the train, not because Wright is a wacko, anti-American nutjob, but because Wright “disrespected” Obama — a sentiment that made the Harvard educated, elitist Obama sound no different from the average Compton gangbanger who blows away the kid next door for “disrespecting” him. It strikes me that the only people who have a problem with this type of “disrespect” are those who (a) don’t respect themselves, (b) are pretty sure that they are not worthy of actual respect and (c) have no sense of humor!