Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani:
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America, He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
In 2009, I wrote a post titled he’s just not that into us in which I contrasted Obama’s attitude toward his fellow Americans with George Orwell’s attitude toward Britain and the Brits, noting that clearly Obama does not identify with America in the same sort of way that Orwell identified with England, and asking: “Why, then, did Obama wish to become our President?”
I think the post has stood up pretty well over the last 5 years…it is reproduced below, with some additional comments at the end.
Here’s George Orwell, writing in 1940 about England and the English:
When you come back to England from any foreign country, you have immediately the sensation of breathing a different air. Even in the first few minutes dozens of small things conspire to give you this feeling. The beer is bitterer, the coins are heavier, the grass is greener, the advertisements are more blatant. The crowds in the big towns, with their mild knobby faces, their bad teeth and gentle manners, are different from a European crowd. Then the vastness of England swallows you up, and you lose for a while your feeling that the whole nation has a single identifiable character. Are there really such things as nations? Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different? And the diversity of it, the chaos! The clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, the to-and-fro of the lorries on the Great North Road, the queues outside the Labour Exchanges, the rattle of pin tables in the Soho pubs, the old maids biking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning – all these are not only fragments, but characteristic fragments, of the English scene. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?
But talk to foreigners, read foreign books or newspapers, and you are brought back to the same thought. Yes, there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillarboxes. It has a flavour of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches in to the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantlepiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person.
And above all, it is your civilization, it is you. However much you hate it or laugh at it, you will never be happy away from it for any length of time. The suet puddings and the red pillarboxes have entered into your soul. Good or evil, it is yours, you belong to it, and this side of the grave you will never get away from the marks that it has given you.
George Orwell was a socialist. He wanted to see radical transformation in his society. But in the above passage, he displays real affection for the English people and their culture.
Can anyone imagine Barack Obama writing something parallel to the above about America and the American people? To ask the question is to answer it. Clearly, Obama does not identify with America in the same sort of way that Orwell identified with England.
Why, then, did Obama wish to become our President?
Two analogies come to mind…
Analogy #1: We are a young woman in a 19th-century English novel. Our personality is a bit quirky and not to everyone’s taste; however, we are good-looking by most standards, and we carry an enormous dowry. Obama is a young gentleman of scant means who finds us pretty strange and not really to his liking, but nevertheless has wooed us fervently, knowing that once we are married he will win the admiration of his friends–we’re considered a darned good catch–and will become quite wealthy. And he’s confident that in short order he will be able to use his charm and his authority over us to change our personality into something more to his liking.
Analogy #2: We are a large corporation with a fabled history but also with some current problems. Obama is our new CEO. He has a very low opinion of our executives, our workers, and our product line. His previous experience, ever since leaving business school, has been as a consultant, teaching theories about strategy and restructuring. He is very eager to prove these theories out in practice, and he is prepared to be quite ruthless in eliminating traditionally-successful parts of the business–and ways of doing things–in order to implement his strategic vision.
Further developing these thoughts, especially Analogy #2….Obama’s approach to just about everything is heavily influenced by his attitude of simplistic abstraction. There is much in Obama that is reminiscent of the syndrome C S Lewis attributed to his protagonist (a sociologist) in his novel That Hideous Strength:
“..his education had had the curious effect of making things that he read and wrote more real to him than the things he saw. Statistics about agricultural laboureres were the substance: any real ditcher, ploughman, or farmer’s boy, was the shadow…he had a great reluctance, in his work, to ever use such words as “man” or “woman.” He preferred to write about “vocational groups,” “elements,” “classes,” and “populations”: for, in his own way, he believed as firmly as any mystic in the superior reality of the things that are not seen.”
It must be remembered that in Mark’s mind hardly one rag of noble thought, either Christian or Pagan, had a secure lodging. His education had been neither scientific nor classical–merely “Modern”. The severities both of abstraction and of high human tradition had passed him by: and he had neither peasant shrewdness nor aristocratic honour to help him. He was a man of straw, a glib examinee in subjects that require no exact knowledge…