Offensive “charm”

My mother always used to tell me stories about how incredibly charming her father was.  She couldn’t summon up any specific examples of that charm, however.  Instead, the factual stories she told me were replete with instances of his compulsive womanizing, his spendthrift habits, his thoughtlessness, and the way in which he used her as his hired help when her mother, fed up with his behavior, left the family.  The charm, which my mother remembered fondly, was ephemeral; the selfish behavior was lasting.

Whenever she’d start lauding her father, I, with all the self-righteousness of a teenager, would start quoting Shakespeare back at her:  “”The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”  I was certainly obnoxious, and it was unkind of me to sully the memory of a man she clearly loved despite his myriad faults, but I think I had a point.  Charm is an intangible quality and vanishes with the person.  Acts live on.

I keep thinking of that every time I read an article or hear a video reporter opining about Obama’s charm.  I’m not inclined to like the man, so I seem to be immune to the tone of voice, the quirk of the smile, the glint of the eye, or whatever else it is that’s signaling to those enamored of him that this is a charming man.  Absent these subtle, almost subconscious cues, all I’m left with are his words and his actions — and those aren’t charming at all.

Instead, his recorded conduct, the part that doesn’t resonate with someone’s loving emotions, is often condescending, arrogant and downright crude.  I first noticed — and commented — about the fact when Hillary, in response to a remark about her “likability” problems on the campaign trail, made a rather charmingly self-deprecating remark about her likability.  Obama responded to that remark with the verbal equivalent of a slap on the face.  With a smirk, he glanced down at her and smugly remarked, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.”  There was Obama, the all-high arbiter of what constitutes minimum standards for likability.  With his condescension on full display, it was a strikingly unkind, ungracious remark.  Here, see for yourself:

This could have been a one-off, a little personal interlude on a long, hard-fought campaign trail, but evidence is piling up that it wasn’t.  Instead, we’re seeing signs that, when Obama’s not engaged in a “charm offensive,” he tends to display an offensive “charm.”  Need more examples?  How about his simultaneous insult to Rush Limbaugh, a man adored, not by a small minority, but by millions of Americans, and his threat to Republicans to get with the Obama program — or else:  “”You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”  A mere eleven words, and he manages to pack into it a world of disdain.

Then, on the very same day, he did a little raw power flexing, something that would had the media screaming to the rafters had George Bush uttered the same words:

In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the proposal, the president shot back: “I won,” according to aides briefed on the meeting.

“I will trump you on that.”

The same article from which I quoted hastens to add that Obama wasn’t gloating, he was merely being pragmatic.  But it was a gloat.  There were a thousand different ways to make the same point, and Obama went for the most brutish and self-promoting.  “I will trump you” is a power statement.  It is not conciliatory, it is not charming.  It is what the victor says as he stands over his opponent’s body.

When my mother was growing up, she had the luxury of a few short years of tremendous wealth — which, European-fashion, included true, apron-wearing servants.  In this household, one of the rules her parents repeatedly drummed into her was never to yell at those servants.  Why not?  Because the servants, as subordinates, can’t answer back.  This, by the way, is the same principle that makes me loath judges who are abusive to the attorneys appearing before them.  Since all the power in the courtroom resides with the judge, including the power to imprison an attorney for contempt, such raw displays of brute force are unseemly, vulgar and bullying — yet that’s what precisely what Obama did in his little interaction with Rep. Cantor.

It’s true that Cantor isn’t Obama’s employee, but Obama is the president, which is the highest job in the land.  Our system demands that we respect him as the holder of that office, leaving anyone in conversation with him in the one-down status of a subordinate.

I suspect we’re going to see more and more of these high-and-mighty statements emanating from Obama.  And the media, because it is entangled with his elusive charm, will happily report those same statements, believing unreservedly that everyone will agree that they show Obama’s wit and wisdom.  I suspect, though, that many of those Americans who haven’t drunk too deeply of the Kool-Aid will begin to look at the Obama style and see, not a charming man of words, but an arrogant bully who uses his words to push around those he deems less worthy or powerful than himself.

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  • Oldflyer

    Well said, Bookworm.

    I wonder how long before it begins to catch up to him. The media will shield him until he degrades them too much, and he has already started; then the working media will start to crack. The “Pundits on High” will likely be the last, and may never desert him; simply because he will probably not show his unattractive side to them, unless he really slips.

    I do think he may be making a mistake by taking on Rush Limbaugh. The media are as fascinated by Limbaugh–in a negative way–as Limbaugh’s listeners are. There is nothing they would rather report than a fight between Limbaugh and Obama. I think Limbaugh is at least his equal in intellect and is a better extemporaneous communicator. Obama has a big megaphone, to be sure; but, I believe that Limbaugh can get access to any Sunday TV show, or any other forum, that he is willing to accomodate because he would draw the audience–and they are all harlots to ratings.

  • 11B40


    I grew up in the Bronx, back in the ’50s and ’60s. A guy like President Obama was known as “a Negro with a dictionary.” It wasn’t a compliment. The connotations included a preference for the verbal over the physical in terms interpersonal conflict.

    During those times, I played a lot of basketball. If I had to play against President Obama, I would “play him without the ball,” in other words, do everything I could to prevent him from even touching the ball. I would hound him, and bump him, and step on his toes and the backs of his sneakers and whisper not-so-sweet nothings in his ears and maybe even pull one of his leg hairs. I would get him in touch with his inner hate and offer him a proximate target. I would enjoy all of it.

    I can think of no recent President who was abandoned by his father at two years of age and then sent away by his mother years later. The fact that the media decided to ignore this background and its future implications will not protect us. These two experiences have had to have fundamental impacts on his personality.

  • Earl

    Get used to it!!

    It’s the Chicago Way, baby….he’s using a playbook that goes back at least as far as Al Capone.

    NO!! I’m not saying Obama is Al….there are a lot of guys using Lombardi’s playbook that can’t carry Vince’s jockstrap! I’m saying that this kind of power play, and the “in your face” wielding of it when you have the upper hand, is right out of the playbook of certain mob figures like Capone. And it’s seen most often and most clearly in Chicago – the town in which our President grew up, politically.

    I don’t think he cares how he comes across to those he has the upper hand on (the Machine in Chicago assured that he would keep it forever), or how it looks to the rest of us….the ones who actually can vote him out. What we have yet to find out is whether the leftist Dems, their badly cowed “partners” in the Dem party, and their eager handmaidens in the national press have managed to form a “machine” that can boost this guy back into power regardless of how he performs while in office.

    It’s going to be an interesting four years, if you can stand to watch!

    P.S. Stay away from anywhere the Islamists might like to attack.

  • Charles Martel

    My wife and I played cards last night with our old leftist friends (we go back almost 30 years) who get most of their talking points from the NYT and NPR. We avoid politics by mutual agreement, so we speak in generalities. The husband said, “Well, whatever happens, this inauguration is certainly the beginning of a new era in American history.”

    I didn’t disagree; it is a new era in many respects. But it was his “whatever happens” that caught my ear. I detected the beginnings of a subtle positioning by the sycophantic media about Obama: This man Obama is going to fail miserably, and the smarter ones among his ass kissers know it. So on one hand they declare the begiining of a “new era,” but on the other cleverly avoid committing to whether it will be a good era, despite the fact that Obama is The One.

    My friend dutifully picked up the meme.

    “Whatever happens,” indeed.


    Taking a cue from Oldflyer…

    “he will probably not show his unattractive side to them, unless he really slips.”

    Obama is a ‘city slicker’ and I doubt that he can outrun even the left wing media for 4 years. Charm may have gotten him the job but charm tarnishes after awhile when it’s all you have to offer.

  • Ymarsakar

    It is not conciliatory, it is not charming. It is what the victor says as he stands over his opponent’s body.

    I have always said that Democrats are the more ruthless political party in American history. Slavery, mass killings, civil rights violations, etc. all are grist for the mill so long as they believe their cause is right.

    The ones that believed Democrat lies concerning how the Republicans are the “mean” ones, are the unilateral “cowboys”, well those people became the dupes of the Dems.

    “I will trump you” is a power statement. It is not conciliatory, it is not charming. It is what the victor says as he stands over his opponent’s body.

    This would be like if everytime I bust somebody’s trick in Spades I say “I trump that”. It’s black ghetto culture slang.

    It’s true that Cantor isn’t Obama’s employee, but Obama is the president, which is the highest job in the land. Our system demands that we respect him as the holder of that office, leaving anyone in conversation with him in the one-down status of a subordinate.

    And that’s why Congress isn’t subordinate to the President. There is such a thing as the balance of powers and while it has been grievously wounded by traitors, domestic insurgents, and the political Left in this country, it is still around, more or less.

    And people like Obama is the exact reason why the Founding Fathers insisted on a Bill of Rights and instituted on the balance of powers between the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches. The Dems cried foul about Bush making the Executive into a dictatorship, but they were only lying to cover up their own intent to do just that.

    Charm may have gotten him the job but charm tarnishes after awhile when it’s all you have to offer.

    MoveOn and the other thugs like Kos will eventually pick a bone with Obama over his Afghanistan policies. Which, then, will force Obama to betray either the American people and her military or MoveOn/Kos wing.

    The Dems are a coalition made up out of various ethnic grief groups and identity politic con men and women. They are going to be feeding at the trough like hogs on crack.

  • USMaleSF

    Definition of charm: manipulation that you like.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Democrats…all crass, no class!

    11B40 is onto something – Obama’s upbringing shows all the signs of having created a highly warped personality that knows how to mask itself.

    However, as we can see, that veneer scratches easily. What will be really telling is when that “whatever happens” to which Charles refers scrubs off the veneer (or maybe it is Rush that will do the scrubbing) and backs Obama into corners. Then, I predict, the inner sociopathic Chicago street thug will appear. He will have a lot of help.

    The Democrat Party is fundamentally a fascist party – it will fight furiously to consolidate its gains by destroying its opposition.

  • pst314

    My liberal friends all knew perfectly well just how dirty Chicago is, and have always assumed that any successful Chicago (or Illinois) pol was scum until proven otherwise.

    And yet along came Obama and they forget everything they knew. Or should I say “forgot”?

  • suek

    This really belongs on an earlier post, but the post has disappeared! Still, it may be relevant.

    So the question is, what happens next? Obviously, if possible, a large portion of financial transactions will go underground in order to avoid taxation. It’s possible the US will go bankrupt. It appears that California will go bankrupt – how does that happen? I mean…how does that work? State employees just stop going to work because they won’t get paid? They open the jail doors and set all the prisoners free? Cops don’t get paid? Teachers don’t get paid? California may get federal assistance, but who will bail out the Feds? Should you pull all your assets out of various institutions and stash it in a safety deposit box, or assume that the currency will remain functional and we’ll enter a period of inflation so that you better have your money out there inflating right along or you’ll lose most of it?

    I remember my Mom telling me about a period during WWII when the government had no money to pay the military. The commissaries were available, and military personnel could buy whatever they needed, and it was put on a tab to be paid when cash was available again. Was that just a made up story? I don’t know – I’ve never seen a reference to it anywhere. Maybe a contingency plan that was talked about?? My Dad was in Budget and Finance… that’s a possible…

    People in those days weren’t on SS, though. If the government is broke and no SS is being paid out, there’s going to be real disaster.

  • Tiresias

    Sue: Yes, it did happen, and that’s where tax “witholding” came from. It used to be that we paid taxes once a year, on April 15th as advertised, but during the pressure of wartime spending that led to a very uneven cash flow. The government of course had to obtain guns, bullets, airplanes, naval ships, etc., etc. – and the contractors, then as now, expected to be paid.

    So along came the concept of “witholding,” as an emergency wartime measure.

    Of course, congress being the pile of offal that it is, you’ll note that the war’s been over for 64 years – but somehow or other the emergency measure continues and continues, unrepealed. This is, obviously, because the government can successfully conceal from the average American idiot just how big a bite it actually takes via this method.

    And you can expect it to continue forever, too, because if everyone in this country on a salary were all of a sudden exposed to the idea that they’d have to actually go into their bank accounts and write a check every April 15th, there’d be a yowl you could hear on the moon – and instantaneous tax reform.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Suek – I think that what happens is that the State declares the equivalent of Chapter 11 protection, allowing it to “reorganize” its finances, restructure debts and obligations, etc.

    California will always be able to get financing. The question is, “at what price?”.

    We are well on our way to becoming another Peronista Argentina, don’t you think?,9171,944526,00.html

  • suek


    I was prowling the net a bit this am and ran across this little tidbit. I like it! I’ll even move! Interesting site – not exactly what you’d expect from the name, but that’s that old stereotype thing again.

  • suek

    By the way…here’s a link that might be of use to someone….

  • David Foster

    “one of the rules her parents repeatedly drummed into her was never to yell at those servants”…see these reflections by Neptunus Lex about an incident that happend on an aircraft carrier.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Great link, David Foster. I forwarded it to my kids…”Leaders-in-training”.

  • Ymarsakar

    The Left’s concept of leadership is the use of intimidation tactics such as character assassination, the personal is the political, and various group think orthodoxy psychological controls to form “unity” and “consensus”.

    No wonder they see the military as full of myrmidons and war atrocity doers. If they didn’t, they might have to do some introspection and that’s scary.

  • Charles Martel

    At the same card game I mentioned above, my Yellow Dog Democrat wife ran smack into a teachable moment.

    It has been our custom for years to watch “Miss America” together with our leftist friends. We’ve never taken the contest seriously, but have long enjoyed the bountiful joking and wisecracking that the contestants inspired.

    These days would-be Miss Americas must all have “platforms”—causes they intend to advocate for during their one year with the title. One of the contestants said that she would advocate on behalf of free emergency room treatment for anybody who needed it.

    My wife nodded in agreement.

    I asked, “Wow, that sounds expensive. Who’s going to pay for it?”

    “The government,” she said, without even a micro-second of thought or hesitation.

    “Neat!” I said, pulling out my wallet and pointing to it. “And how’s the government going to pay for it?”

    No answer. But a look of momentary comprehension.

    Who woulda thought: Even “free” stuff has a price.

  • suek


    Just out of curiosity…do you and same wife have children??

  • Charles Martel


    One son, almost 24, an awesomely good professional rock drummer, music store sales manager and meat butcher. He and his girlfriend just celebrated finishing the fifth year of their relationship, very rare in the hook-up era.

  • suek

    Interesting combination of occupations…meat butcher????

    So…why aren’t they married?

    Now don’t take that as an unfriendly question – at least, not unfriendly to you – but I have to wonder. I can guess that the reason is that she isn’t pregnant, and perhaps they intend to keep it that way. Secondly, they have no church affiliation and see no reason to establish one. Thirdly, they haven’t established in their minds that there is a tax/legal benefit to getting married.

    So…that does make me wonder just exactly why they have a long term relationship but have chosen not to marry, but there are numbers of gay couples who have long term relationships and consider it a breach of their rights that they cannot legally marry. There seems to be an incongruity that I can’t really resolve unless we get into the political agenda consideration. It doesn’t seem to be a _personal_ agenda consideration.

    May I assume that your wife would be happy for them to move in with you and pick up all their expenses??

  • Charles Martel


    They don’t live together and never have. It’s not a shack-up arrangement.

    They haven’t married because I think both of them know that their life paths are going to carry them far apart. He is a member of a rock band that is determined to make it, and has put in 30 hours a week in rehearsals for 4 years now—I estimate about 5,000 hours in the studio plus about 50,000 miles in road trips.

    This will continue for him for at least another year, which is the deadline the band members set for themselves three years ago when they made a pact to go all out for success.

    She is on her way to becoming =sigh= a lawyer and will probably practice business law in Madrid. Before then, she will study law in DC.

    Like you, I don’t see the point of such a relationship unless they have an unspoken agreement to use their exclusivity as a means of focusing on their goals. “Gee, thanks for the offer to drop ecstasy and acquire your chlamydia, but I have a boy/girlfriend I’m faithful to.”

    Regarding church affiliation, my son’s girlfriend is a cafeteria Catholic, which means she goes to Mass and observes Lent, but does not let the Church interfere with her private life.

    My son is nominally Jewish since my wife is (I’m Catholic). I pleaded through the years for her to take his instruction in Judaism seriously, but she never followed through. I told her once that Jews like her are a greater danger to Jews than even Islam or the left. If she can’t be bothered to pass on the fundamentals of her faith, what’s the point? The cutesy little pseudo-ethnic affiliation where we all get to drop Yiddishisms into our conversation or intone politically correct seders once a year at Passover?

    My wife would not want them to move in with us (we certainly don’t have the room) and I would forbid it. We occasionally help out our son—in unexpected ways so that he does not come to depend on them—and have made it clear that he’s on his own.

    He picked up butchering when he worked as a supermarket bagger and then worked his way up. It’s a skill he can use anywhere, especially if Obama and his socialist enablers wreck the U.S. economy enough to force young men to hit the road in search of work.

  • suek

    >>“Gee, thanks for the offer to drop ecstasy and acquire your chlamydia, but I have a boy/girlfriend I’m faithful to.”>>

    I have to admit that there’s a certain amount of rationality to that…but when I hear those ads for xyz medication…”Yes I still have herpes but I take my pills so I won’t pass it on except on days when it flares up” or some such. Such faith the non-herpes infected person must have! Like those women who deliberately get pregnant by skipping their contraceptives but telling their partner “of course I took my meds”…the infected person wields the sword of possibility over the head of the non-infected person! Ick.

    Sounds like his girlfriend is tip-toeing through life. Too much law school and she won’t be able to commit to _any_ religion. One of the problems with learning to argue is that you sometimes lose the ability to decide on a conclusion. There’s always another side. You’re always on the fence and afraid to fall off.
    This is often a liberal thing, I think. On one blog, a commenter got close to crazy because of Bush’s “if you’re not with us, you’re against us”. Heaven only knows what s/he did when it came time to vote. Maybe s/he was one of those hanging chads that no one could decide which way the vote should be tabulated!

  • Danny Lemieux

    Suek – “One of the problems with learning to argue is that you sometimes lose the ability to decide on a conclusion. There’s always another side. You’re always on the fence and afraid to fall off.This is often a liberal thing, I think.”

    It could be that Charles’ son’s significant/other/”friend” is French. Believe me, we Frenchies love to bloviate about the complexities of life without really doing anything about them. Especially over a nice cup of Espresso. N’est-ce pas, Friend of the USA?

    Then again, there’s one of my favorite sayings about Liberals with minds so open their brain fall out.

  • Ymarsakar

    Charles, since when did DC have “laws” for people to study? They change from the feudal/patronage system recently or something and nobody decided to tell me, is that it?

  • Charles Martel

    Danny, my son’s girlfriend is half Peruvian, half Yank. She is a lovely brunette who speaks beautiful Spanish. I crack her up with my Spanish, which is very good in pronunciation, not so good in execution.

    Ymarsakar, LOL, yes, the dolts in Washington know about things called “laws” but have little respect for them. My son’s girlfriend will study “law” at Georgetown, a former Catholic university that now thinks pissing on America is the coolest thing.

    I keep myself to myself. My son is important to me, and I am not about to diss his or his girlfriend’s defective world view (she studied at UC Santa Cruz and once took a class from the commie murderer Angela Davis) if it means cutting him off. I have told him several times—and one day he will come to believe me because he has no choice—that his generation will fight in a war for the very existence of America.

    He doesn’t quite take me seriously, but cannot discount what I say either. I tell him that when that time comes, all of the platitudes and leftist shibboleths that his generation has so readily swallowed will be consumed in a firestorm—perhaps the incineration of an American city by the Religion of Peace. Then his generation will have to make its choice: kill or be killed.

    He doesn’t like the way I put that; who would? But I’m trying my best to prepare him for a hard time and to let him know that the great ride that lasted from 1945 to 2007 is over.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Charles – “I tell him that when that time comes, all of the platitudes and leftist shibboleths that his generation has so readily swallowed will be consumed in a firestorm—perhaps the incineration of an American city by the Religion of Peace. Then his generation will have to make its choice: kill or be killed.”

    Have you tried to tell him that it will likely come BECAUSE it was enabled by the platitudes and shibboleths of Leftists (including his generation)?

    As Ecclesiastes tells us, there is nothing new under the sun: history is repeating itself. I believe that people will come to see the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush eras as a Gilded Age, followed by a great depression, followed by a world war, brought on because idiot Leftists and idiot nations believed that war was obsolete, disarmed and lost their collective wills to stand up for themselves and their cultures.

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