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Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

A defense of Obama’s pretensions

Many of his more conservative opponents see President Obama as either an elitist Washington insider, or a radical Muslim socialist bent on tearing our country apart. Or, in spite of the apparent contradictions, both at the same time. Such is the detrimentally divisive political climate we live in.

Though the radical liberal label is almost laughable (he’s a fairly conservative Democrat, whatever his opposition says), the elitist one is much harder to shake. For one thing, he went to Harvard Law School and was president of the Law Review there. He speaks with eloquence and heavily emphasized diction; even the most conservative of politicians grudgingly acknowledges this skill, though most turn it into a criticism of his ability to get things done: i.e. he can only give brilliant speeches rather than enact policy.

And, by many appearances, he is an elitist, as he attended the school with the best reputation in the country and became that middle-class dream of a position, a lawyer (and a writer); his skills with the English language do, at least in my opinion, place him among the elite. Many Tea Party members feel that he does not represent the “real America,” that his public persona reeks with the stench of a high-brow academic mindset. I guess they miss the folksiness of President Bush.

I don’t. I think that his command of our language demonstrates his intelligence, even if it is not as politically appealing as, say, Ronald Reagan. I think his membership in the elite and pretentious Harvard University shows a commitment to learning and is representative of how extraordinary he really is. Because, in all fairness, the appearance of pretentiousness (which is generally just intelligence) is only a bad thing when it attacks people without just cause.

I don’t mean that pretentiousness is good in all forms. I just think that it’s good to have high standards for who gets to lead our country. Devoid of politics, would you rather have a Texas daddy’s boy who don’t speak real good and who got C’s at Yale, or a brilliant student in charge of the Harvard Law Review? I think pretentiousness (as in standards) should be celebrated, because they lead to better results, or at leas the hope that better results are possible.

I do not mean to suggest that every person who smokes self-wrapped cigarettes, likes to talk about movies and bands you’ve never heard of and just generally likes to assert the depth and breadth of their intelligence: i.e. pretentiousness in its conventional form: should be running our country. Nor do I wish to assert that those who are not entrenched in the celebrated institutions of this country are somehow lesser; I just perceive it as an offensive criticism that Obama being a member of the elite is a bad thing.

Not that I don’t understand the populist anger; the Tea Party members are angry with the direction that the country is going, the size of the government, the influence of lobbyists, the lack of accessible jobs. They see Obama’s intellectualism as cold and without empathy, though they wouldn’t agree with him anyway. I just don’t think we should be critical of him for this trait. Politics aside, the fact that he was elected shows that maybe, just maybe, Americans do actually have standards and pretensions about the quality of their leadership.

That being said though, Obama needs to be more emotional come election season, because many Americans vote with their hearts, not their heads. In this sense, the issues matter less than how they are presented. Yet Obama’s pretensions should not be used against him, even though they will be.

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  • J

    jaiApr 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Obama is a public servant. We are his employers and we have the right and the obligation to demand documentation of every qualification he claimed to get his job, including the following:

    1. Dunham-Obama marriage license (No witnesses recall seeing them together or seeing Stanley Ann pregnant)
    2. Dunham-Soetoro divorce records (why did Soetoro get Barry?)
    3. Soetoro adoption records
    4. Punahou School records (Enrolled as Indonesian citizen)
    5. Occidental College records (None presented so far and not a single person remembers seeing him ever being there)
    6. Passport (Indonesian)
    7. Passport (U.S.) (The one
    8. Medical records
    9. Columbia University academic record
    10. Columbia University academic record
    11. Harvard Law School records
    12. Harvard Law Review articles
    13. Illinois law license records
    14. Illinois State Senate records
    15. Illinois State Senate schedule
    16. University of Chicago scholarly articles
    17. A list o his campaign workers, especially those who are lobbyists.

    The only thing we really know about this guy we learned from his admittedly fictional, contradictory, and poorly written books.

    Then there’s the obviously photoshopped photo with the unattached hand waving in the background and the wedding photo with different lighting and his supposed mother’s legs on sideways and there’s the newspaper announcement since cleaned up that originally appeared pasted in crooked and in a different type style than the rest of the column. Even after being doctored, it still runs into the one below it.

    Obama is a fraud and has perpetrated the most colossal fraud ever committed against the American people.

    For the record, I am a Birther. And I am proud of it. Only a fool or a cultist would accept undocumented accounts of a politician’s qualifications.

    Every day more and more intelligent Americans question Obama’s eligibility for the Presidency. Soon the truth will come out and even the racist epithet will not save him from being removed from office.

    • C

      Caitlin HardeeApr 24, 2010 at 8:25 pm

      Wow, what a nut job. “For the record, I am a Birther. And I am proud of it.” Oh, okay. Always nice to wake up and remember how much conservatism and ignorance exists around us.

  • J

    jaiApr 22, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Since Obama is still concealing his records, we have no objective evidence that he actually attended Harvard. A liberal friend who would have been a professor there when Obama appears to have attended (though the dates too seem to change) has been unable to locate even one professor who remembers ever encountering Obama as a student.

    He must have been unremarkable to the point of invisibility or perhaps he was never there. Until we see the records, no one can stand on his Harvard achievements with any degree of certainty. As to his involvement with the Law Review, his front men at first claimed he was ‘Editor’ of the “Harvard Law Review,” but changed it to the elected position of ‘President’ when people questioned his lack of required publications. More recently, they’re beginning to waffle on that claim too. Same with his so-called professorship at the University of Chicago which now, like a lot of his other claims, appears to have been a constructed as a political after thought from a possible appointment as Adjunct Instructor who may never have lectured a single class.

    Because the claims change so frequently, a thorough investigation of the facts should be undertaken before posting.

    • T

      To JaiApr 28, 2010 at 3:28 pm

      You said, and I quote: “A liberal friend who would have been a professor there when Obama appears to have attended…has been unable to locate even one professor who remembers ever encountering Obama as a student.”

      In seconds of searching I was able to find a couple articles in the Harvard Crimson newspaper and New York Times that call into question a number of your very bold claims:



      After reading the first article, clearly there are, in fact, a number of people who remember Obama during his days as a graduate student at Harvard. One professor even recalls Obama’s time as his teaching assistant. Looking at the second article, you should recognize that Obama held both the editor and president positions for the Harvard Law Review during his time there. Obama was first an editor, and then later was chosen to be the Review’s president. It does not matter which one he chose to tout during his campaign or presidency. And frankly, it makes sense that his administration would change their focus from “editor” to “president” as it sounds, and is, more important.

      So Jai, please take some of your own advice before calling our President a “fraud”, because we all know “a thorough investigation of the facts should be undertaken before posting.”