I've pretty much stopped listening to Obama; his speeches are tiresome and usually exceedingly misleading. And he really is not very good at facts; we haven't seen his transcripts so we really do not know what history he ever studied but it seems his staff does not bother Googling. Moreover, the twit's narcissistic self-regard drives him to denigrate others just so he can feel like a hotshot.
So it was at second hand that I discovered the most recent manifestation of this narcissistic behavior, as he puts down Rutherford B. Hayes to make himself feel innovative. (As one blogger commented, this from a guy who uses a Blackberry?) Scaramouche pointed me to Mark Steyn's evisceration of the latest blarney from The Great Windbag Obama.
Steyn transcribes the core bit including the approving response form his equally ignorant audience (students, no doubt in awe at the presence of The One):
One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, 'It's a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?' [Laughter]. That's why he's not on Mount Rushmore – [laughter and applause] – because he's looking backwards. He's not looking forwards [Applause]. He's explaining why we can't do something, instead of why we can do something."
The self-regard is unbelievable. He has already described his great visionary nature - pissing millions of dollars away on 'green' coumpanies (usually with ties to his funders) that go out of business shortly after cashing in their loans. And he thinks he is a candidate for Mt. Rushmore, as is implicit in this context?
It fell to Nan Card of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Ohio to inform the website Talking Points Memo that the quotation was apocryphal. Hayes had the first telephone in the White House, and the first typewriter, and Edison visited him to demonstrate the phonograph.
But obviously Rutherford B. Hayes isn't as "forward-looking" as a 21st century president who believes in Jimmy Carter malaise, 1970s Eurostatist industrial policy, 1940s British health care reforms, 1930s New Deal-size entitlements premised on mid-20th century birth rates and life expectancy, and all paid for by a budget with more zeroes than anybody's seen since the Weimar Republic. If that's not a shoo-in for Mount Rushmore, I don't know what is.
Steyn goes on to analyze Obama's examples of backward thinking (apparently cribbed from a Wiki page, a quality of speech-writing I thoroughly expect from his team) and shows that in general what skepticism existed was pretty much right. Only a caricature of the skepticism was wrong, and that is the reason for the caricature.
My favorite is the flat earth myth about Columbus. I'll let Steyn describe it.
Christopher Columbus? Once upon a time, your average well-informed high-schooler, never mind the smartest president in history, understood that Columbus was laughed at not because everyone believed the world was round: Educated Europeans of his day accepted that the Earth was spherical and had done so since Aristotle's time. They laughed because they thought he was taking the long way round to the East Indies. Which he was.
It's not just that people back then (and for a LONG time) knew the earth was a sphere (more or less). Any idiot who has ever watched ships on a body of water can see immediately the earth cannot be flat, and that as far back as the Greeks it is almost impossible to believe they had a bad model. I wonder if Obama or his team (many from the shores of Lake Michigan) have the mental chops to figure this out on their own without the help of a shoolteacher or Wiki. But it is easy for Obama to think he is a lot smarter than those idiotic medieval scholars and Greek scientists.
So let's see. The president sneers at the ignorance of 15th century Spaniards when, in fact, he is the one entirely ignorant of them. A man who has enjoyed a million dollars of elite education yet has never created a dime of wealth in his life sneers at a crippled farm boy with an eighth-grade schooling who establishes a successful business and introduces electrical distribution across Michigan all the way up to Sault Ste Marie. A man sneers at one of the pioneering women in broadcasting, a lady who brought the voices of T.S. Eliot, G.K. Chesterton and others into the farthest-flung classrooms and would surely have rejected Obama's own dismal speech as being too obviously reliant on "Half-A-Dozen Surefire Cheap Cracks For Lazy Public Speakers." A man whose own budget officials predict the collapse of the entire U.S. economy by 2027 sneers at a solvent predecessor for being insufficiently "forward-looking."
A great nation needs successful self-made businessmen like George Peck, and purveyors of scholarly excellence like Mary Somerville. It's not clear why it needs a smug over-credentialed President Solyndra to recycle "Crowd-Pleasing For Dummies" as a keynote address.
They all laughed at Christopher Columbus, they all laughed at Edison... How does that song continue? "They laughed at me..."
At Prince George's Community College they didn't. But history will, and they will laugh at us for ever taking him seriously.
However did Obama hide the content of his character for so long?
I expect we'll see much more of this sneering in the campaign; lacking any achievements to run on he will have to do a lot of denigrating the achievements of others.