Steyn: Reality check on the ‘Obama as Caesar’ culture

by Mark Steyn
The Dakota Beacon
October 30, 2009

Valerie Jarrett announced the other day that “we’re going to speak truth to power”.

Who’s Valerie Jarrett? She’s “Senior Advisor” to the President of the United States – ie, the leader of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. You would think the most powerful man in the most powerful nation would find a hard job finding anyone on the planet to “speak truth to power” to. But I suppose if you’re as eager to do so as his Senior Advisor, there’s always somebody out there: The Supreme Leader of Iran. The Prime Minister of Belgium. The Deputy Tourism Minister of the Solomon Islands. But no. The Senior Advisor has selected targets closer to home: “I think that what the administration has said very clearly is that we’re going to speak truth to power. When we saw all of the distortions in the course of the summer, when people were coming down to town hall meetings and putting up signs that were scaring seniors to death…”

Ah, right. People “putting up signs”. Can’t have that, can we? The most powerful woman in the inner circle of the most powerful man on earth has decided to speak truth to powerful people standing in the street with handwritten placards saying “THIS GRAN’MA ISN’T SHOVEL READY”. Was it only a week ago that I wrote about this Administration’s peculiar need for domestic enemies?

The Senior Advisor seems to have forgotten that she is the power. Admittedly, this is a recurring lapse on the part of the Administration. There was Barack Obama only the other day blaming everything on the President – no, no, silly, not him, the other fellow, the Designated Fall Guy who stepped down as head of state in January to accept the new constitutional position of Blame Czar. Musing on problems in Afghanistan, Obama blamed the “long years of drift” under his predecessor. The new President – okay, newish President – has been Drifter-in-Chief for almost a year but he’s too busy speaking truth to the former power to get on top of the situation. It could be a while yet. In his more self-regarding moments, such as his speech to the UN, he gives the strong impression that the “long years of drift” began in 1776.

Rocco Landesman, head honcho at the National Endowment for the Arts, seems closer to the reality of the situation. In his keynote address to the 2009 “Grantmakers in the Arts” Conference, Landesman hailed Obama as “the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar”. He didn’t mean a “powerful writer” as in a compelling voice, gripping narrative, vivid characterization, command of language, etc. He meant a “powerful writer” as in Caesar was king of the world, and now Obama is. He came, he saw, he stimulated: “If you accept the premise, and I do, that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, then Barack Obama is the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar. That has to be good for American artists.”

I suppose so. He could invade somewhere and force the natives to accept degrading roles in NEA-funded performance art. He could take out the Iranian nuclear program by carpet-bombing it with unreadable literary novels. That is, if you “accept the premise” that the United States is the most powerful country in the world. Rocco Landesman may, but it’s not clear, from his actions (or inactions) in Eastern Europe, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere, that the President does.

Steyn’s article continues here.

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