Monte Kuligowski
February 16, 2011
The era of the Obama 'blank screen' is over
By Monte Kuligowski

Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., a/k/a Barry Soetoro, appeared out of nowhere as a political Melchizedek with a mysterious and unknown past. Obama's lofty speech in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention instantly propelled him to celebrity status in the eyes of a star struck news media. At the time, Obama was employed as an Illinois state senator out of Chicago. During his career, the senator voted "present" approximately 130 times on controversial issues.

No sooner than Obama became a U.S. senator he had more important things than Senate business to tend to: like running for president as an all-American moderate with a nice smile.

Mr. Obama presented himself as a blank slate to the American public. A Real Clear Politics piece by Froma Harrop notes the way in which Obama saw himself relating to the public:

"What Obama really thinks should be done about health care and the terrorist threat remain secrets that his book [Audacity of Hope] does not unlock. His two years in the Senate certainly haven't revealed any bold policy ideas.

This leave-them-guessing strategy slips out in the book's prologue. 'I serve as a blank screen,' Obama writes, 'on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.' He notifies readers that 'my treatment of the issues is often partial and incomplete.'"

Inasmuch as the press refused to vet and investigate Candidate Obama, he certainly was a "blank screen" to the uninformed in 2008.

At first Obama became a "sort of God" to many, including Newsweek editor Evan Thomas. It's interesting that the liberal theological tendency of projecting views onto God of whatever happens to be desirable also applied to the new political messiah.

If someone wanted a fiscal conservative, Obama was her man. If another wanted a socialist, Obama was his man. If someone wanted a sincere Christian, Obama was his man. If another wanted a humanist skeptic, Obama was her man. Onto the blank screen an image of Abraham Lincoln could be projected. If someone preferred FDR, no problem — the screen was seemingly blank and the suit empty.

But that was then. Mr. Obama's "treatment of the issues" (and his opponents) is no longer a mystery. The days of Obama as a "blank screen" are over. The "leave-them-guessing strategy" may have worked while campaigning, but not as many are still guessing about the identity of the real Obama.

Yet, it's curious that Obama and his fans in the media still believe that the vehicle of the blank screen is operable. Time Magazine's recent photoshopped cover showing Ronald Reagan approvingly embracing Obama is such an example.

Mr. Obama said that "people of vastly different political stripes [can] project their own views" onto him. Time's insinuation that Reagan would "love" Obama is not a projection of the Time Magazine editors — for they are not conservatives. Time is simply acting as a facilitator. The magazine is saying to gullible conservatives and moderates: "hey, you can still project your political views onto Obama. Mr. Obama can even be Reagan, if you wish."

We've witnessed Obama for two years ramming through radical, far-left appointments and bills by unscrupulous means, against the will of the electorate. In light of his brass-knuckles approach and leftist agenda, it's truly astonishing that the media somehow believe Obama can remain all things to all people.

As a new president, Mr. Obama thought he could talk about spending cuts and "fiscal responsibility summits" while simultaneously burying the country in unprecedented debt and federal bureaucracy.

Even more shocking is the fact that Obama continues to believe he can use doubletalk and smoke and mirrors.

Mr. Obama recently stood before a crowd at the Chamber of Commerce, hoping that the audience might somehow view him as a blank screen.

In the Chamber speech, Obama didn't use the "failure of capitalism" sound bite to explain the country's current financial mess. The president used the word "capitalism," but this time in a positive way. Obama went so far as to say that he shares a "deep, abiding belief in this country," and a "belief in the principles that have made America's economy the envy of the world."

There was no talk about America being arrogant. There was no mention of America's small population selfishly using an unequal share of the earth's resources. Mr. Obama didn't touch on his fear that other countries do not approve of Americans driving their SUVs or eating as much as they want while keeping their homes at 72 degrees.

As Mr. Obama went on to expound on the "principles" that made America great, the Chamber speech became noticeably creepy as the president demonstrated that he knows little about free market principles. The crowd smiled politely but you have to wonder what the audience was thinking. The president's alleged JFK moment was more of desperate demand for business to do something to help Obama look good than anything else.

The man who had never run a business or even worked in the private sector (beyond scooping ice cream as a kid) vainly lectured businesspeople to create jobs (with the promise of government "investing" in politically correct businesses). That alone reveals that the president doesn't have even an entry-level understanding of the free market economy.

We should notice that Obama's treatment of the jobs issue was "partial and incomplete." Mr. Obama did not announce to the Chamber that the federal government would be getting out of the private sector's way. He failed to announce any specific tax rate numbers or a repeal of any federal job-smothering regulations. He provided no concrete basis for optimism or certainty.

Instead, the president gave another "good speech." In the past Obama could speak partially and incompletely, leaving the audience to project onto the screen whatever it wished.

But Obama is no longer a blank screen in front of a teleprompter. The screen now plays back his words and deeds of the last two years in high definition.

© Monte Kuligowski

 

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Monte Kuligowski

Monte Kuligowski is an attorney and writer whose legal scholarship, including "Does the Declaration of Independence Pass the Lemon Test?" (Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy), has been published in several law journals... (more)

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