Given all his talk about weatherization and climate change, perhaps President Obama should have borrowed Jimmy Carter’s frayed cardigan for his Oprah Christmas Special. But then again, Carter donned that sweater for his 1977 energy-sacrifice address due to global cooling. Obama enjoys the plenty of global warming. No cardigan and pinched living for him. In fact, Obama’s White House, as Oprah was duly shown, boasts a “390-pound gingerbread house” this Christmas.
Asked by Oprah to supply a self-grade for his first year in office, Obama didn’t reject the question as improper and inane but entertained the chance for grade inflation happily. He gave himself a “good, solid B-plus.” If that wasn’t modest enough, he explained that he had faced the “biggest set of challenges since Franklin Delano Roosevelt” and had tackled them impressively, from stabilizing the economy to laying the groundwork for glorious exits abroad to reshaping America’s image in the eyes of the world.
Oprah wanted to know why he didn’t give himself a higher grade. He couldn’t cite any mistakes of commission, just omission, saying vaguely that the grade is “because of the things that are undone.” In other words, recalcitrant Republicans and feckless Democrats deserve ultimate blame for his mere B plus. He said that he would confer upon himself an “A minus” if “I get health care passed.”
It’s a wonderful life, but he had to interrupt the pre-Christmas festivities to lash out on another network at the Mr. Potters of the financial industry, telling 60 Minutes that “I didn’t run for office to help out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street.” But didn’t they vote for him too? No matter; these days he would prefer to help out fat-cat special interests on K Street.
Obama is upset that bankers are paying themselves “bonuses” at a time of unemployment and financial-industry incompetence. These aren’t indispensable federal workers, after all, who, as recent reports indicate, receive pay increases and six-figure salaries despite a twelve-trillion-dollar deficit. Had Gordon Gekko been the head of a federal agency, he might have said, “Government greed is good.”
The passion not on display in Obama’s West Point speech suddenly appeared in the 60 Minutes interview as he warmed to the theme of evil financiers. But last year around this time, sober commentators were noting that the Mr. Potters of the financial industry would have prevented the housing bubble from bursting under the weight of bad loans. Bankers should be bankers, not social workers, chastened Americans seemed to agree. Now Potter is the villain again and Obama demands the return of community-organizers into the field.
Obama casts himself as a defender of the common man against a heartless elite. But the only evidence that he has turned the White House back into “the People’s House” is that his aides have haplessly allowed them to crash or stumble into it. Any citizen could stroll into Andrew Jackson’s White House and perhaps the same will be said of Obama’s, as Harvey and Paula Darden learned on Veterans Day.
According to the Associated Press, the retired couple “mistakenly showed up a day early for a tour scheduled through their congressman,” then found themselves “in the presidential mansion anyway.”
It was “quite a treat,” the Dardens said. AP reports that they were ushered into the “East Room, offered a buffet spread and told they’d be meeting the president.”
A coatless and tieless Harvey Darden, feeling odd amidst the splendor, knew something was amiss — the further we got into the White House, the more surprised we were” — but he and his wife were told by an official to “go with the flow” and just join the invitation-only event in progress.
This is indeed a White House committed to egalitarianism. The Dardens ended up staying, says AP. They waded into the buffet line, then got their picture with the Obamas, though it hasn’t yet arrived in the mailbox. The only remaining glory would be an appearance on Oprah to discuss it all.