January 25th, 2013
One of the interesting side matters about Barack Obama is that so many of the anecdotes about his sense of self come from people close to him, who view them not as horrifying indictments of his character, but as testaments to his awesomeness.
Valerie Jarrett, White House senior adviser (2009-present): We’re sitting in the Oval Office, and the president asked [the legislative director] Phil Schiliro — who always could figure out what’s that third way — “Phil, what’s the third way?” Phil said, “Mr. President, unless you’re feeling lucky, I don’t know what the third way is.” And so the president gets up from his chair and he walks over and he looks out the window, and he says, “Phil, where are you?” Phil says, “I’m in the Oval Office.” He goes, “What’s my name?” Phil says, “President Obama.” He goes, “Of course I’m feeling lucky.”
Sub out “Obama” for “George W. Bush,” obviously, and this goes into the pantheon of presidential arrogance.
Jodi Kantor of the NYT has a similar anecdote where, if I remember correctly, Obama picks up magazines delivered to the White House and demands that staffers read the address label aloud:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
The most revealing moment in David Maraniss’s dull but thorough biography of Obama is when his Australian girlfriend reports that he has “a superhero complex,” that he identifies with comic book characters and wants to live a superhero life.
Funny for someone so intent on never showing courage.
A cute detail in a recent Jodi Kantor story was how, in the early dawning moments of the Obama epoch, when he had arrived in Washington very historically by train, he “told others that he did not need a presidential library,” but now someone named Susan Sher is fixing up a good one back in Chi-town. I can only imagine the future room of that library/museum/experience which houses the various magazine covers naming him Man of the Year, Decade, etc. It probably would look like that Lance Armstrong Twitter pic of the framed yellow jerseys. When deeds are severed from fame, only the true athletes of being famous survive. Most politicians have to have some skill for it but Obama is the Michelangelo of pure renown:
Library that looks like Lance’s twitter photo…brilliant.
[...] Oh, this is too good not to link. [...]
Hmmmm. I’ve tried the suggested substitution: “… And so the president gets up from his chair and he walks over and he looks out the window, and he says, ‘Phil, where are you?’ Phil says, ‘I’m in the Oval Office.’ He goes, ‘What’s my name?’ Phil says, ‘President Bush.’ He goes, ‘Of course I’m feeling lucky.'”
Can someone explain to me why “… this goes into the pantheon of presidential arrogance”? So Obama … or Bush … or Kennedy … or Lincoln think they are lucky to have attained the office of President of the United States. In what way, exactly, would that make any of them arrogant? “Realistic” seems to me a more accurate descriptor.
No, no, it doesn’t have to be explained, only invoked.
Replacing “Obama” with “Bush” actually works better given the circumstances of 2000.
First. To attribute one’s own rise to the presidency to luck rather than personal awesomeness is the opposite of arrogance.
Second. The exercise of replacing Obama’s name with George W Bush’s doesn’t make any sense. Obama’s point, I would think, is that for a guy with a name like Barack Hussein Obama to become president had to take a lot of luck. That would in fact be distinctly less true for someone named — for Pete’s sake — George Bush.
I am appalled at the petty sniping at Obama for his supposed arrogance above. Isnt it time to move beyond demonizing and ridicule of Obama, now that he has gotten the US out of the economic mess and the insane war (which cost real lives, I may add) the martyred Bush had gotten the US into (among other things)? He won the elections – despite the stated goal of the republicans to make him a one-term President!!