Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Story Time With Obama: "First" Pacific President

I have a relative who is a toxic narcissist. This person plays havoc with my efforts at family history research, because she tells completely convincing stories that later, after much work on my part, I find are totally fabricated. Oh sure, they always contain a grain of truth, but the small bits of truth her stories hang on make them more difficult to track down, not less. Her stories are both grandiose and often self-contradictory, yet the contradiction doesn't seem to bother her. In fact, she becomes insulted if you point the contradictions out to her--as if you're supposed to just "go along" and your failure to do so is a moral failure on your part. She would have made a good novelist if she had decided to put her gift for fabrication to good use.

When I read of some of the stories that Obama tells about himself, I hear the same grandiosity, the same self-contradiction, whether trivial or serious, the same inability to tell the truth about anything. Narcissists will lie, straight to your face, even if telling the truth would be easier. It's almost as if they do it to keep in practice. They surely do it to be "one up" on their audience.

Obama's latest narcissistic fairy tale about himself is that he's "America's first Pacific president," something he was heard to say in Tokyo: "As America's first Pacific president, I promise you that this Pacific nation will strengthen and sustain our leadership in this vitally important part of the world."

Put aside for a minute the confusing reference of "this" Pacific nation in the above statement. Honestly, I'm not sure which nation he's referring to there, but that's for another post. What this post is about is his fantasy about being "America's" first Pacific president.

True, he was born in Hawaii (well, I guess it's true--for the sake of argument, we'll say it's true). But he left there after he graduated from prep school; his young adult years were spent at Columbia in New York, Harvard in Cambridge, and in Chicago. Not very Pacific, except that he vacations there now, so that counts, right? Especially when he stays on the Island of Oahu, the island where he was raised by his grandparents. Only now he stays with friends in a cluster of privately owned beachfront mansions, his specifically being an $8 million, 12,000-square-foot oceanfront vacation home. We wouldn't want our president slumming it, that's for sure, and--come on now, you Obama-hating critics--obviously staying at a shack on the beach adds to his Pacific creds.

So those are his Pacific credentials. What about the other part of the statement--his ridiculous assertion about being "first" Pacific president? That's not even remotely true, as a quick look at some facts shows. Hat tip to John J. Pitney Jr., the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College (a Pacific college).
  • President Richard Nixon, born in California in 1913. Nixon spent much more of his adult life in a "Pacific" region that Obama has. Much.
  • President Ronald Reagan. Governor of the "Pacific" state of California. He also owned a ranch northwest of "Pacific" Santa Barbara,  California.
  • President Dwight Eisenhower. He had military postings in the Philippines and the Panama Canal Zone.
  • President William Howard Taft. He was governor-general of the Philippines.
  • President Herbert Hoover. He worked as a mining engineer in Australia and China; he learned to speak fluent Mandarin.
  • Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Bush 41 all served in the Pacific during the Second World War. As Professor Pitney points out, what those presidents did as adults was perhaps more consequential that Obama's childhood link to Hawaii--or his adult link to the Islands as vacationing millionaire beach bum.
I will admit, though, just like my own relative, Obama's stories about himself are entertaining, and it's amusing to imagine what he'll come up with next.

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