As a young boy, his mother put everything into him. He was her first child — and with an absent husband — the boy quickly became the center of her life.
In fact, this boy was her life.
So from his earliest days, he was made to feel as if he were the center of his mother’s universe. All her attention was paid to his wants, interests, cares, worries, and fears.
His mother focused more on him even after she gave birth to other children. This boy was — to her — special and thus he came to feel special, too.
As he grew up, he rarely if ever heard the word “no” spoken to him. Nothing was denied him. Mother did all she could to answer his desires the way he wanted.
As the boy became a teenager others, too, wanted to please him. Some did this because they felt sorry for him; others had guilt; still others sought favors by being seen to aid the boy.
So as he approached adulthood, he was not like most boys. No, he thought about himself differently. He knew that his life was special and that he would have everything he ever wanted. Why not? For his entire life it had been that way. His mother told him he was special and she had seen to it that he had everything he ever wanted. So why wouldn’t that continue?
Indeed, as he entered his teens and then his 20s, he was admitted to the best high school, and then an Ivy League college and then grad school at Harvard.
(Who is this? Can you guess — yet?)
Life was his oyster. He had it all. Everybody loved him — or seemed to love him. And he never wondered why this was so because it had always been so. After all, Mother said, “You will have anything you want.”
After graduating from Harvard, he went off to a life that was almost pre-ordained. Setbacks were glossed over. Indeed, the run for the U.S. House ended with a humiliating defeat. But it didn’t hurt him one iota. No one called him a “loser” or said he’d have to go back to the starting gate and begin all over, as “they” say about other first-time losing candidates. Not with this young guy. No way.
Instead, they urged him to run for an even higher office. No wonder that he just knew that he would get to the top of the political heap because big, powerful people always wanted to help him, just as his mother had predicted.
In fact, his political party begged him to run for statewide office. They threw money at him, even though he really had accomplished nothing in his life to warrant or deserve such support.
He soon came to take it all for granted. In fact, he expected it. Anything he asked for he received — as he always had. Experienced party campaigners and staffers flocked to his campaigns — certain that 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. was the next stop. Money rolled in, too. All the big party fundraisers went into overdrive to curry support for him. He also got incredibly favorable press coverage from a normally cynical political media contingent.
After winning statewide, it was immediately clear: This was a mere stepping stone to the White House. So he glossed over his day-to-day duties, delegating those to others. He focused on expanding his national profile; he wrote a self-promoting campaign-intended memoir — even though he had accomplished absolutely nothing in his life except for winning an election — so he wrote about the only thing he knew anything about: himself and his relationship to his namesake father and his father’s family.
The media — predicting big things — began comparing him with past political icons, including Ronald Reagan.
The hype grew and grew, way beyond what this young man deserved or had earned. But he didn’t see it that way. No, he saw himself, as his mother had always told him, as the new savior; the new sheriff riding into town to clean it up. And anyone who said “no” to him was to quickly be dispatched far away. It was his way — or the highway.
(Any idea — yet — who we are talking about?)
So the time to run for president came, and he ran in a long, arduous, difficult two-person race. He was upset in the New Hampshire primary and then the race stretched on for months. He eventually won, but it was closer than it should have been given the free and favorable coverage given him by a media that really helped him along the way.
He won the general election and was inaugurated amid high hopes and great fanfare.
His presidency began with bold pronouncements and a desire to take the nation in a totally new and different direction — different even from what he had pledged a few month earlier in the campaign. With a Congress of the same party, there was no force to check the president’s excesses. So the two branches of government reinforced each others’ worst extremes, and federal spending exploded.
When the new president needed something controversial from Congress, he simply held a gun to its head and demanded and threatened dire national consequences if it didn’t give him everything he wanted — at once. And Congress buckled to the popular new president’s wishes.
(Any idea yet which president we are talking about here?)
Massive new federal spending followed. Unbelievably wasteful projects in members’ districts were a part of this, along with federal subsidies and bail-outs of private corporations. And the true costs of new spending programs were kept secret from Congress and the American people in order to get the popular support needed to pass these new spending bills.
The president himself?
He had high ratings to begin with. His own party gave him anything he asked for. His arrogance grew by leaps and bounds. How could it not? He was getting anything and everything he wanted. Just like it has always been since his mother began telling him his life would be this way.
And over the years he had become petulant, too — like a spoiled child — because no one had ever said, “No,” to him. But D.C. is a tough place, and no president gets everything he wants. Well, he would show ’em. No one dares deny me what I want!
With this arrogance and hubris came a false pride that caused him to intercede even in local issues which are not part of a president’s job description. But he saw himself as "above" the regular presidency — he was, after all, God’s gift to the world. So he stepped into a local situation fraught with emotion on both sides, and it was a huge mistake. It caused his poll ratings to decline even more quickly.
Politically he took his party to the far fringe of the political spectrum — far, far away from the crucial political middle and thus doomed his party to losses in midterm elections.
(Figured it out yet? Who is the president of the United States described here?)
As a political figure he proved surprisingly inept at speaking without a script or the teleprompter. Halting speech, many pauses, and “ahs” and “ums” punctuated his off-the-cuff speaking style.
His presidency’s signature issue was motivated by a private grudge he held from an event involving his family that occurred several years before he was elected. This event churned inside him — and now that he commanded the political universe — he used all his presidential powers to bully, force, jam, finagle, goad, and press the nation and Congress to enact a law that “paid back” those who aggrieved him and his family years earlier. This singular action would lurch the nation into massive new deficits — and damage the national economy for decades to come.
The president, in his arrogance and hubris, also never could bring himself to say he was “wrong” or he was “sorry” for any mistake he made.
What of the American people in all of this?
They had hopes after the election that the new president would be able to go to D.C. and solve some of the nagging problems gripping our nation. But, after an initial honeymoon that lasted about six months, they soon divided again into roughly 50-50 blocs: red states and blue states. However, with a Congress and a president of the same party, they ignored public opinion and dragged the country in one direction, even with half the American people in total disagreement.
(Any idea yet who this is all about?)
History judges presidents according to the likes and dislikes of the historian writing his or her particular take on an era and a president. So some will adore something others will detest. It is up to each of us to decide what we think of a president, not just his personal attributes but whether what he does is good or bad for our nation.
OK. It is time now to reveal which president is described above:
A) Barack Obama?
B) George W. Bush?
The answer is C. This column describes Obama and Bush, and how similar they are as people and as political leaders coming, as they do, from opposite ends of the political spectrum.
In fact, they are mirror opposites of each other.
And we, as Americans, have now twice in a row selected presidents hell-bent on taking the country in a direction that will bankrupt the nation.
In 2012, we have to do better.
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