Back in 2008 I remember being amused by the accusations of arrogance levelled at then-candidate Barack Obama. It seemed to me a mere expression of anti-intellectualism. Of course you don’t become a top politician, even within reach of the presidency, without being pathologically arrogant, but no one really wants a shrinking violet as president.
But the Republican He’s a smart, educated guy, and the Republicans think (I supposed) they can gain an advantage by playing to the common fear that any such person must hold the average citizen in contempt.
I must now admit to having experienced a failure of empathy. Only now, when I (and those like me) am the object of the great BO’s contempt, do I appreciate how peculiarly infuriating this man’s ego is. This idiosyncratic blend of openness and narrow-mindedness, his willingness to discuss anything with anyone, undertaken with the absolute self-assurance that his intellect already encompasses any argument we might make.
Basically, Obama tells the American people, “You’re beautiful when you’re angry”.
In his recent remarks on l’affaire Snowden, Barry said
And if you look at the reports — even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden has put forward — all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s emails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now, part of the reason they’re not abused is because these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC.
Having said that, though, if you are outside of the intelligence community, if you are the ordinary person and you start seeing a bunch of headlines saying, U.S.-Big Brother looking down on you, collecting telephone records, et cetera, well, understandably, people would be concerned. I would be, too, if I wasn’t inside the government…
But people may have better ideas and people may want to jigger slightly sort of the balance between the information that we can get versus the incremental encroachments on privacy that if haven’t already taken place might take place in a future administration, or as technologies develop further….
And so those are the kinds of things that I’m looking forward to having a conversation about.
Speaking as one of those “ordinary persons”, I am disgusted by the president offering to start a “conversation” about what I and many others who have thought deeply about these matters consider to be already huge violations of our civil liberties, an injury to the rule of law, and laying the groundwork for the complete evacuation of democracy, with the caveat right up front that the only possible result could be “to jigger slightly sort of the balance”. Because Obama the Omniscient couldn’t possibly have gotten the whole policy wrong. He’s an (adjunct) constitutional scholar, ferchrissake!
He ridicules our concerns, because we’re not well informed like the people in the “intelligence community”, but he has been withholding the information, and taking extreme measures against anyone who tries to inform us.
But he loves having these heated conversations with us. We ordinary folks are so beautiful when we’re angry!