In the Arena

Department of Vile

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Pete Wehner simply can’t get over the notion that the President of the United States is a narcissistic messianist. The latest evidence: Obama’s call, on Monday, for both Republicans and Democrats to make concessions in order to reach a budget deal that begins to solve some of our long-term debt problems. Outrageous, huh?

Wehner spent seven years studying at the knees of the highly moral and extremely humble Karl Rove and so he feels no compunction about repeating–endlessly–this canard:

Politics tends to draw into its orbit people who are inordinately impressed with themselves and caught up in excessive self-love. But in Barack Obama we have stumbled across someone unlike anyone we have seen before. This is a man, after all, who believed he had it within his powers to heal the planet and reverse the ocean tides. And as the hopes and dreams of his 2008 campaign continue to crash down around him — as his popularity wanes, as some of his most worshipful followers turn from him, as he is  unable to extract himself from the results of his failed policies — his narcissism seems to grow, not diminish.

What Wehner is referring to here is Obama’s absolutely crazy notion that if we begin to control carbon dioxide  emissions sea levels won’t rise as much as if we ignore this threat to our environment (“tides” being a metaphor for sea levels, as Wehner well knows)–a conclusion overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community. This is just over-the-top vile, and also sad. There was a time when Wehner could be assumed an intelligent life form, a conservative but not a complete nutball. Ever since being Bushwhacked, he has lost all acuity about the Oval Office, intent at every turn on defending his President against all comers and especially against any success achieved by his moderate-liberal successor. Far worse, he seems intent on “proving” that Obama, a man he knows not at all, is somehow psychologically damaged.

But if Obama waxing poetical about global warming is narcissistic, what are we to make of Bush’s Second Inaugural Address, in which he proposed to save the world with Freedom. It was a noble thought, but a bit messianic (and when done arrogantly and stupidly, as in Iraq, a rather bloody enterprise). I’ve said some harsh things about the Bush presidency, but I was never a Bush hater. I knew the guy and liked him personally. I’ve always said that Bush was well-intentioned man who was overmatched and relied overmuch, especially in his first term, on an extreme and profoundly wrong Vice President and power-addled Secretary of Defense (you can ask any member of the uniformed military about the veracity of the latter claim). He was a lousy President; he’s a good person. Wehner seems to think Obama is a lousy President–which is his right–and a lousy person, for which he has precisely zero evidence.

And now his bent sense of loyalty has led him to the point where an appeal for compromise from an American President at a moment of imminent financial peril is seen as dangerously narcissistic. Wow.

Finally, there’s this familiar refrain:

 It is hard to tell where this will all end. But I suspect it won’t be pretty.

Why familiar? Well, Pete said the something very similar about me–clearly indicating that my career was over–when Abe Foxman of the (Anti-)Defamation League hilariously accused me of anti-Semitism for questioning the Israel Firstism of some neoconservatives. I’m still here and thriving, thank you. And I suspect that whatever happens to Barack Obama in 2012, the fact that he took the moderate route on the current budget negotiations won’t do him any harm.

I can say this, though: It is hard to tell where and how Pete Wehner got himself so crazy angry. But it sure is ugly.