A.J. DiCintio
Jay Gatsby in the White House
By A.J. DiCintio
May 12, 2013

In a NYT article about the latest cinema version of The Great Gatsby, Charles McGrath fills us in regarding a particularly vexing problem faced by every writer/director/producer who takes on the task of filming the novel:

"There's not much actual description of [Gatsby] in the book – other than that he's 'an elegant young roughneck' and that his 'elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd' – so readers tend to project their own versions."

The fact is, of course, that if the current attempt to capture Fitzgerald's masterpiece on the big screen fails, it will result either from the widely agreed upon opinion that the novel's prose is indivisible from the rest of the work or its ridiculous efforts at modernization.

But enough about Tinseltown agonies.

What strikes me is that while the novel does indeed offer a paucity of description about its main character, neither McGrath nor the multitude of other critics weighing in on the new adaptation mention the following piece of crucially important information provided by narrator Nick Carraway:

"The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God . . . and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end."

Now, the only reason for the stunning omission must be that liberals realize bringing the passage to light will invite people to think about the mysterious materialist whose luxurious mansion plays host to obscenely outlandish parties and then shout, "O! My Goodness! Forget the guy in the movie; we've got Gatsby in the White House!"

So, while liberals rather we'd not, let's consider the aptness of the metaphor.

First, it's necessary to say that "an instinct toward his future glory" led James Gatz to St. Olaf College in Minnesota, from which he soon dropped out because his "overwhelming self-absorption" caused him to recoil from college life's "ferocious indifference to the drums of his destiny."

Those details established, we can put into better perspective why, having returned to the shores of Lake Superior as "clam-digger" and "salmon-fisher," Jay Gatsby "sprang from his Platonic conception of himself" the moment he saw Dan Cody's yacht and concluded it "represented all the beauty and glamour in the world."

In contrast, Barack Obama didn't drop out of college.

However, having done his share of walking on beaches, albeit the Hawaiian variety, something at age 19 caused him to ask his family to drop the nickname "Barry" for "Barack." And a year later something told him to leave Occidental for Columbia.

Moreover, from Obama's own words we learn that during his college years an "alienated" Barack "chose [his] friends carefully," those conscientiously made choices including members of the intellectually and morally impoverished breed of humanity who label themselves Marxist professors.

Keeping in mind the human potential for "self-absorption" and "instinct toward future glory" as well as what we know about Obama's record, we can revise the conveniently overlooked passage so that it reflects how, with a little help from his Marxist friends, Barry turned Barack surely experienced an epiphany whose implications dwarf those of Gatsby's individual transformation:

"The truth was that Barack Obama, of Washington, District of Columbia, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God . . . and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious ideology that insists upon wielding enormous power from the level of government farthest removed from the people."

Yes, to a destructive extreme, Jay Gatsby allowed the love of money to poison his vision of the American Dream while Barack Obama permitted the love of political power, despite Washington's warning it "predominates in the human heart," to do the same.

And the similarities between the two go on.

Gatsby's preposterous megalomania was fed by rumors an admiring public created to put flesh on the bones of a fabulously rich, young "roughneck" who had apparently materialized from nothing.

The second mystifying coming also evoked rumors, many of them owing to the fact that Obama has intentionally kept much of his past hidden (for example, his college records).

However, the rumors are nothing compared to the orgy of fawning exaggerations with which liberals shower love upon the psyche of their perceived messiah.

For instance, Obama has written two books, which are, essentially, simple diaries. Yet liberals hail him as infinitely greater than Marcus Aurelius or Thomas Jefferson, especially because the former never understood how the power of government can transcend the realities of human nature and the latter never could grasp that his beloved libertarianism was deathly inimical to the supreme beauty of all-powerful, centralized government.

To his credit, lawyer Obama graduated from Harvard Law School; but in a grievous insult to men and women who for decades have labored in the vineyard of study, research, and publishing, liberals fall to their knees in homage before Barack Obama, Constitutional Scholar.

This obsequious massaging of an ego already given to "overwhelming self-absorption" and "instinct toward future glory" explains why – even before he received the Democratic Party's official nomination in 2008 – Obama flew to Berlin not only to apologize to Europe for all of America's past sins against the Continent but also to lecture citizens of the entire planet about his vision for leading humanity to a brave new world of peace and prosperity ushered in by "social democracy," the most recent sublimation concocted by those who can't resist giving expression to their belief in the inherent goodness and truth that gushes from Marx's "scientific socialism."

It explains, also, why four months after his inauguration, he flew from America's monstrous economic problems by jetting to Cairo to give a speech he has de facto credited with having extinguished the scourge of Islamist extremism, thereby rendering obsolete and unnecessary words such as "terrorism," "terrorist," "jihad," and, certainly, "war."

During a week that hosts both the House Benghazi Hearing and the opening of the new Gatsby film, it is particularly appropriate, therefore, to consider that while a self-deluded Gatsby looked upon Daisy's daughter only with "surprise," Obama reacts not just with disbelieving shock but his usual anger and vindictiveness at charges he and his minions not only failed contemptibly in their response to the mere "bump in the road" that was the terror attack at Benghazi but lied repeatedly both to cover up their failures and protect the false, arrogant, dangerous narrative regarding the refreshing beauty of the Obama-induced "Arab Spring."

That's why, as we consider the totality of Benghazi's meaning, we ought to recall Nick's warning and Gatsby's response, "Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can!"

And then, being as hard and honest about human nature as Aurelius ever was, realize that the poisonous vapor of the following monomaniacal arrogance surely swirls about Obama's mind as justification for his behavior that hellish Benghazi night and ever since:

"You can't soothe the savage breast of Islamist extremism with a speech? Why of course you can!"

It will take an essay as long as a Russian novel to analyze every similarity between Jay Gatsby and Barack Obama.

Therefore, I'll end here and leave for another time further analysis of how "what preyed on Gatsby" also preys on Obama –

For example, regarding why the president has refused to establish a personal working relationship with Members of Congress, even Democrats; why he shoved a shamelessly rushed "Obamacare" down the nation's throat; and why, as Peggy Noonan has reported, a long-time Washington counselor asserts that of all the presidents he served, Barack Obama is the only one who doesn't display a sense of awe upon holding the same office entrusted to giants named Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.

And for another time as well I'll leave thoughts about "what foul dust will likely float in the wake of [Obama's] dreams."

© A.J. DiCintio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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