Obama's Outsized Ego

Townhall.comJonah Goldberg

"That's all right, all of you know who I am," President Obama joked last week when the presidential seal fell off his podium during a speech in Pittsburgh.

Even though the incident made headlines for no discernible journalistic reason, it was noteworthy as a succinct example of Obama's arrogance problem. Rather than make a self-deprecating joke, he opted instead to make a self-inflating one, as if to say that the title mattered less than the man.

The good news is that it's apparently not racist to call Obama arrogant anymore. Not long ago, Keith Olbermann and other gargoyles on the parapets of establishment liberalism insisted that if you were to call attention to the fact that Obama ostentatiously holds himself in very high regard, you were really calling him "uppity," if you know what I mean.

Now, what was once taboo has become undeniable. Even the New Yorker's David Remnick, author of a loving biography of Obama, tells Der Spiegel, "Obama has a considerable ego."

And here's Time's Mark Halperin: "With the exception of core Obama administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusion: The White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters."

Halperin's diagnosis was inevitable, given Obama's conviction that he represented a movement that was larger than politics or even the presidency. After all, this was the man who, as a candidate, descended on Berlin as the leader of a worldwide cause that transcended national borders. And when asked in a debate what his greatest weakness was, he plumbed his soul and answered that he was disorganized. "My desk and my office doesn't look good," he said. When a man runs as a national redeemer and says his biggest failing is a messy desk, that should be a warning sign that he likes himself a bit too much.

Of course, all presidents have healthy egos. You cannot become president, or even think you're qualified to run, if you don't think highly of yourself. Obama's arrogance problem isn't a matter of psychology but of strategy.

When Arkansas Democratic Rep. Marion Berry complained that health-care reform felt like a replay of the Hillarycare debacle, Obama explained that the big difference between then and now was "me." In other words, the White House's plan for making everything work out was an unyielding confidence in the power of Obama's own cult of personality. That's why that cult's high priest, David Axelrod, pursued a strategy of greeting every problem as if it were an excuse for Obama to give another big speech. Continued: http://townhall.com/columnists/JonahGoldberg/2010/10/13/obamas_outsized_ego