*The following is the second in a series of three excerpts from David Limbaugh’s new book Crimes Against Liberty, which was released on Aug. 23. You can read the first excerpt here and the third excerpt here.
Who is Barack Obama? To say that he has an enormous ego is an understatement. Many commentators, including psychological analysts and foreign leaders, have described him as a narcissist.
Obama’s patent self-confidence is not just posturing. It’s evident he truly believes he is special. He did, after all, pen two largely autobiographical books before he had accomplished much of anything. He once told campaign aide Patrick Gaspard, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that . . . I’m a better political director than my political director.”
Obama’s belief that he is a gift to the world is a theme he would carry forward into his presidency. He truly believes he alone has the power to reverse the mess America has allegedly made of world affairs, and that only he can restore America’s supposedly tattered reputation.
Indeed, it often seems that for our president, American policy is not about the United States, but about him personally. At the Summit of the Americas, Obama sat through a 50-minute harangue against the United States by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who eviscerated the United States for a century of “terroristic” aggression in Central America. When it was Obama’s turn, he did not defend the United States, but made himself the issue: “I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.”
Obama’s numerous self-references soon became legendary. Obama referred to himself 114 times in his first State of the Union. By September 23, 2009, Obama had given forty-one speeches so far that year, referring to himself 1,198 times. At his West Point speech in December, he referred to himself forty-four times. In a speech in Ohio in January, Obama referred to himself no fewer than 132 times and, in the same speech, had the audacity to proclaim, “This is not about me.”
That phrase, “This is not about me,” cropped up in many of Obama’s speeches, signaling that whatever “this” is, it’s precisely about him—his ego, his ideology, his agenda, his legacy, or his unbending ambition to have his way. The rhetorical device, “It’s not about me,” is a long established pattern in which he self-servingly pretends to project an air of humility to leave the impression that he is modest about accomplishing great things—thereby shamelessly seeking credit both for his modesty and his greatness.
Yet Obama continues to tell us—either as a brazen practitioner of Orwellian deception or as a poster child for political tone-deafness, “I won’t stop fighting for you.” If he were truly fighting for the people, he wouldn’t have mocked the tea partiers or closed his own counterfeit public forums on healthcare to all but union and other special interest supporters of ObamaCare.
Candidate Obama overtly cultivated a messianic image, from the grandiose pomp accompanying his campaign speech in Berlin to the Greek columns that adorned his acceptance speech at Chicago’s Invesco Field. His advisers fully bought into the façade, especially to the idea that Obama possessed a superior intellect—so far above the masses that it was difficult to convey his ideas in terms simple enough for the people to understand.
At a forum at the Kennedy School of Government, one participant suggested to Obama’s adviser and long-time confidant, Valerie Jarrett, that Obama’s ideas were so complex that the administration should consider writing simple booklets to explain them to ordinary people, just like the computer industry originally wrote DOS For Dummies. Jarrett said it was an excellent idea. “Everyone understood hope and change” because “they were simple . . . part of our challenge is to find a very simple way of communicating. . . . When I first got here people kept talking about ‘cloture’ and ‘reconciliation’ and ‘people don’t know what that’s talking about.’” Then it really got thick as Jarrett proclaimed, “There’s nobody more self-critical than President Obama. Part of the burden of being so bright is that he sees his error immediately.”
Obama didn’t exactly discourage this quasi-deification. In noting Obama’s “pathological self-regard,” former George W. Bush aide Pete Wehner reported that Obama surrounded himself by aides who referred to him as a “Black Jesus.” Wehner noted, “Obama didn’t appear to object.”
Surrounding himself with sycophants and egged on by an adoring media, Obama assumed the presidency with the arrogant ambition of transforming America. He believed he was The One—a visionary whose great deeds would be remembered generations from now. But while his charisma was a great asset on the campaign trail, as president he quickly found that his trademark oratory could not convince a skeptical nation of the wisdom of his extravagant plans.
David Limbaugh is the author of Crimes Against Liberty.