On April 30, Daniel Henninger wrote a very good column about one of Obama’s pre-election gifts — his ability to prevaricate so smoothly that everyone listening ended up believing that Obama was agreeing with his or her point of view:
Early in the campaign, in January 2007, a New York Times reporter wrote a story about Mr. Obama’s time as president of the Harvard Law Review. It was there, the reporter noted, “he first became a political sensation.”
Here’s why: “Mr. Obama cast himself as an eager listener, sometimes giving warring classmates the impression that he agreed with all of them at once.” Also: “People had a way of hearing what they wanted in Mr. Obama’s words.”
Harvard Law Prof. Charles Ogletree told how Mr. Obama spoke on one contentious issue at the law school, and each side thought he was endorsing their view. Mr. Ogletree said: “Everyone was nodding, Oh, he agrees with me.”
The above impressed Henninger when he read it, but what impressed him even more was the caveat that came with it:
The reason I have never forgotten this article is its last sentence, in which Al Gore’s former chief of staff Ron Klain, also of Harvard Law, reflects on the Obama sensation: “The interesting caveat is that is a style of leadership more effective running a law review than running a country.”
In other words, it’s fine skill if you can work a contentious room so that every individual believes you side with him or her but, when the rubber hits the road, you’re going to have to make a decision and offend someone. As it is, Obama is still trying to placate all parties to a debate, but is ending up simply offending everyone:
President Obama called for overturning a decade-old ban on publicly funded abortions in the District as part of his budget proposal Thursday, but did not overturn the national ban on federal funding, thus angering advocacy groups on both sides of the volatile issue.
Under his proposal, the District for the first time in more than a decade would be allowed to pay for abortions with the money it raises from its own taxpayers.
“This is just the most recent in a long line of actions by President Obama to placate the abortion industry actions that fail to match his words with regard to abortion policy,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women’s group.
Incidentally, Obama’s doing exactly the same thing with immigration — although his semi volte face here is, I suspect, more a matter of pragmatism (shrinking economies and swine flu are not conducive to open borders), then a pathological desire to have everyone hail him as their empathetic saviour.
I guess our only saving grace right now is that, radical as Obama is, his overriding desire to make everyone in the room like him (even when that room is the size of the United States or the world itself), hampers his ability to carry out his more radical policies.
UPDATE: “We’d been had” — which is another example of Obama’s duplicity, which is probably tied into his inability to understand that, as an executive, he can no longer please all of the people all of the time. I really wonder how much longer the MSM can dole out news so that the American people remain unaware of the Obama shell game.