The “Being There” president

Posted by: Phineas on June 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm

**Posted by Phineas

It’s been common on the Right to compare President Obama to another awful president, Jimmy Carter (indeed, Glenn Reynolds famously said that’s a best-case scenario). The Left (and some on the Right) instead compared him to FDR or Kennedy — and even God.

Michael Barone sees another similarity, one that’s amusing because, on reflection, it seems so apt: Obama as Chauncey Gardiner, the passive little man from the book and movie “Being There,” whom everyone thought was brilliant, but just “liked to watch:”

As you may remember, Gardiner is a clueless gardener who is mistaken for a Washington eminence and becomes a presidential adviser. Asked if you can stimulate growth through temporary incentives, Gardiner says, “As long as the roots are not severed, all is well and all will be well in the garden.” “First comes the spring and summer,” he explains, “but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.” The president is awed as Gardiner sums up, “There will be growth in the spring.”

Kind of reminds you of Obama’s approach to the federal budget, doesn’t it?

In preparing his February budget, Obama totally ignored the recommendations of his own fiscal commission headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Others noticed: The Senate rejected the initial budget by a vote of 97-0.

Then, speaking in April at George Washington University, Obama said he was presenting a new budget with $4 trillion in long-term spending cuts. But there were no specifics.

Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf was asked last week if the CBO had prepared estimates of this budget. “We don’t estimate speeches,” Elmendorf, a Democrat, explained. “We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis.”

Evidently “first we have the spring and summer” was not enough.

Read it all, as Barone finds more evidence of “Chauncey-ism” in Obama’s approach to governing.

Of course, while I said it was amusing and I did enjoy both the book and the movie, Obama’s passive, detached style is absolutely what the nation does not need when it faces such daunting problems at home and abroad. We need a president who’s actively involved, not one who’s content “being there.”

Unfortunately, we have to wait until at least November, 2012, to find that person.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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12 Responses to “The “Being There” president”


  1. Janelle says:

    Mr. Barone is late coming to the table with that comparison. I certainly heard that from at least ten fine bloggers quite awhile ago!

  2. DavidL says:

    Styles are a so what. Barack Obamam problem is not that he is aloof. Obama’s problem,and the nation’s, is that Obama is a moron.

  3. Carlos says:

    Every time Duh-1 shoots off his mouth from the hip he gets into trouble (think Cambridge police). He has spent a lifetime perfecting “Being There”, but his hubris gets the better of him sometimes and gets him to thinking he really does have something to add to the conversation.

    What a maroon.

  4. Joseph Brown says:

    I guess Imam Obama never heard that it’s best to keep your mouth closed and let people wonder if you’re ignorant than open it and remove all doubt.
    Or something like that.

  5. PE says:

    Chauncey is at least one lobotomy behind obama.

  6. Marshall Art says:

    The comparison is apt. Another is Rainman: “I’m an excellent president.” He has made driving metaphors in his speeches.

  7. JPeden says:

    Obama’s problem? Not enough victory laps, I’d say, at least not enough following the period surrounding the time when he wisely and with great empathy saved Osama from the “torture” he would have endured due to [the "closed"] Gitmo by killing him instead of capturing him, and likewise saved “our values” since Osama would have never received a proper civilian court trial at [the "closed"] Gitmo./sarc, just in case..

    Maybe he just needs a “Ram-bama” to stand in for each victory where he manages to screw “we the sheep”? Only one, since no one except his fellow Shepherds buys it.

  8. Drew the Infidel says:

    The BO administration is the government version of “The Sasquatch Gang”, complete with the taste-test of fecal matter as it were.

  9. bill glass says:

    …not even close. Chauncey Gardiner at least garnered some of my respect.

  10. bill glass says:

    and, oh yeah, loved the scene with Shirley MacLaine in the bedroom on the bear skin rug….Chauncey liked “to watch”.

  11. Tom TB says:

    Watch “Being There” and “The Distinguished Gentleman”. Barack Hussein Obama/Barry Soetoro/etc. fits in as a composite of both charactors; mostly dopey puppet, sometimes slick con man. He still uses a Social Security No. issued to a State that he never had a mailing address in, or had even visited when it was issued…

  12. captaingrumpy says:

    I love conspiracies. I hate this President.
    Enough said.