For a self-described community organizer, full of the anti-colonial dreams of his father, Obama seems to enjoy inordinately rubbing shoulders with monarchs and princes. The BBC this week hailed his embarrassingly empty chat with Prince Harry as his first post-presidential interview (it was actually conducted last September but released only on Tuesday). The interview allowed two vapid liberals to wallow in their privilege while babbling about a world without privilege. Nothing phrases like “platforms of change” tumbled forth as they both longed for greater egalitarianism. The prince and the community organizer agreed that they are both “passionate” about helping paupers.
Obama, who is earning millions of dollars for twenty-minute speeches these days, says that he is concerned about unfair pay, while Prince Harry worried about the lack of seriousness accorded young people before asking Obama to choose his favorite Kardashian.
Trying hard to sound sage, Obama offered up self-serving platitudes about the dangers of the Internet. Under the guise of lamenting a partisan media, he called for a return to the old one. He misses the liberal media monopoly terribly and wishes for a suppression of dissenters from it: “One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.” It is safe to say he is not referring to viewers of CNN and MSNBC. Obama will let us know which “facts” can be used in any debate and which opinions deserve to be heard: “The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanization of society and allows ways of finding common ground.”
The “danger” to which Obama refers, then, is nothing more than the left’s lack of control over political debate and journalism. Of course, he says nothing in the interview about the famously nihilistic uses to which the Internet is put. Those dangers go unmentioned. In fact, he spends much of the interview lavishing praise upon a generation famous for its misuse of social media: “this generation coming up is the most sophisticated, the most tolerant, in many ways, the most embracing of diversity, the most tech-savvy, the most entrepreneurial. But they don’t have much faith in existing institutions.” Prince Harry readily agreed: “It’s too easy for people to criticize millennials for being superficial, selfish and self-obsessed.”
Obama presented himself as the Pied Piper of this astonishingly wise and virtuous army of young people, whose staggering decency will save our rotten politics. After all, he said, they elected him: “You have this African-American, mixed race, born in Hawaii, named Barack Hussein Obama and somehow he becomes president. How did that happen? Well, it happened primarily because you had a bunch of 20-year-olds and 23-year-olds and 25-year-olds who started going out into communities that oftentimes they’d never been in before and believed in the possibilities of a different kind of politics.”
The interview overflows with such prattle, with Obama alternating between praising and condemning the superficial politics he helped create. One moment, he is talking about the apolitical depth of his wife, the next he is warning against the hashtag activism for which she was famous. He says that he deplores our fact-free politics, then weaves a fantasy about how climate-change activism can stop hurricanes. For all of his much-advertised “experience,” he is still the senatorial punk who thinks he can stop the rise of the oceans. That his first post-presidential interview was with Harry is fitting. It captures the fatuousness of his presidency and its celebrity-seeking champagne socialism.
One of the few honest moments between the two touched on encroachments upon their luxury. They shared a laugh about one of Obama’s greatest post-presidential annoyances — getting stuck in traffic. “I didn’t use to experience traffic,” he said. So much for the dreams of Obama’s father, whose contempt for the British monarchy was enormous, a contempt that Obama pretended to share. (Gone was the Churchill bust from the Oval Office and so on.) Obama’s father dreamed of a world in which rich and poor alike bore the same miseries, a world without monarchies and colonies and ancestral rights. And here his son was complaining about traffic with a prince. The fulfillment of his dream wasn’t a toppled monarchy but a pampered son who pants after its privileges.