In the middle of the White House Press Briefing on Monday, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Norah O’Donnell asked Press Secretary Jay “Jaybird” Carney about whether or not Obama‘s American Jobs Act tour is nothing but a political campaign. Carney decided to imitate Jon Stewart with a sarcastic quip that produced a minor guffaw from the normally-sycophantic press corps, saying:
You’re absolutely right, it is a campaign. The President is campaigning…. for [insert long pause] for growth and jobs.
Unfortunately for both Carney and his boss, the reporters were only partially laughing at Carney’s delivery. They were mostly laughing because they believed the first part of Carney’s statement and discounted the second as propaganda.
After hearing yesterday about this decidedly weak attempt at comedy by Jay Carney, I was immediately struck by how similar the rapidly devolving presidency of Barack Hussein Obama was to the classic movie “A Face in the Crowd”:
Andy Griffith makes a spectacular film debut in this searing drama as Lonesome Rhodes, a philosophical country-western singer discovered in a tanktown jail by radio talent scout Patricia Neal and her assistant Walter Matthau. They decide that Rhodes is worthy of a radio spot, but the unforeseen result is that the gangly, aw-shucks entertainer becomes an overnight sensation not simply on radio but, thereafter, on television. As he ascends to stardom, Rhodes attracts fans, sponsors and endorsements by the carload, and soon he is the most powerful and influential entertainer on the airwaves. Beloved by his audience, Rhodes reveals himself to his intimates as a scheming, power-hungry manipulator, with Machiavellian political aspirations. He uses everyone around him, coldly discarding anyone who might impede his climb to the top (one such victim is sexy baton-twirler Lee Remick, likewise making her film debut). Just when it seems that there’s no stopping Rhodes’ megalomania, his mentor and ex-lover Neal exposes this Idol of Millions as the rat that he is. She arranges to switch on the audio during the closing credits of Rhodes’ TV program, allowing the whole nation to hear the grinning, waving Rhodes characterize them as “suckers” and “stupid idiots.” Instantly, Rhodes’ popularity rating plummets to zero. As he drunkenly wanders around his penthouse apartment, still not fully comprehending what has happened to him, Rhodes is deserted by the very associates who, hours earlier, were willing to ask “how high?” when he yelled “jump”. Written by Budd Schulberg, Face in the Crowd was not a success, possibly because it hit so close to home with idol-worshipping TV fans. Its reputation has grown in the intervening years, not only because of its value as a film but because of the novelty of seeing the traditionally easygoing Andy Griffith as so vicious and manipulative a character as Lonesome Rhodes.
Just like Lonesome Rhodes, Obama was a charismatic figure who came out of nowhere to a place of national prominence. Also like Rhodes, he represented something unique.
While Rhodes represented the common man, down on his luck, who pulled himself up by his bootstraps to achieve success, Obama, in turn, represented what was good and right (or so it seemed at the time to those who voted for him) about our country: the fact that anyone, regardless of race and in spite of humble beginnings, could grow up to become the President of the United States of America.
And just as Rhodes was exposed for the vacuous, megalomaniac that he was, so has Obama been revealed for who he is, through burdensome legislation designed to make the American Proletariat dependent upon Obama’s Politburo, through ill-timed photo op-laden vacations, and, finally, through his repetitive use of oratory laden with images of class warfare and apologies to our enemies for the actions of our sovereign nation.
While Lonesome Rhodes reached out to the people through his radio program, Obama is a master at using the New Technology. For example, his website Obama for America, later renamed Organizing for America, as it was known before his re-election campaign kicked off, was a collection of blogs and propaganda designed to stir up his voter base and keep them involved.
And if that wasn’t enough, our petulant president has a new feature on that same website, barackobama.com: Aware Watch, whose purpose is to gather information and report on all subversives who would dare question or criticize Obama. Its sub-title reads: Get the Facts. Fight the Smears.
And here, for my 52 years, I’ve always thought that this was America – not Soviet Russia.
Meanwhile, Obama continues to insist that Congress rush through the passage of his American Jobs Act, even to the point of using a bunch of high school kids as an Amen Chorus, chanting “Pass This Bill!” during an appearance in Columbus, Ohio yesterday.
Obama knows that he has to hurry to complete his agenda…before he’s totally exposed to the public, as Lonesome Rhodes was.
Unfortunately for Obama, he’s too late.