U.S. President Barack Obama gives a thumbs-up as he celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in Washington in this file photo taken March 17, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files
The most pitiful moment of the Republican National Convention wasn’t anything that Mitt Romney or anyone in his party did.
It was a snippy little comment posted on Twitter, the micro-blogging site, after midnight on Thursday night, by a juvenile Democrat activist who was staying up late and mocking the Republicans.
Clint Eastwood, one of the few conservatives in Hollywood, had just made a quick, loosely scripted appearance at the Republican convention, and talked about his own disillusionment with Barack Obama. He was standing by a chair, and made a quick reference to it — how Obama himself should have been in that empty chair.
It wasn’t particularly funny or powerful or memorable. But across America, staying up late in the White House, a junior campaigner just couldn’t help himself from replying.
And that Democrat was Barack Obama himself.
President Obama tweeted a picture of himself sitting in the president’s official chair at an official cabinet meeting, with the reply to Eastwood: “This seat’s taken.” Not particularly funny either. Not exactly a Twitter “war.” But it was a “nyah, nyah, I’m sitting in the president’s chair, and you’re not.”
Hold on a second. This is what the president of the United States — the leader of the free world, the commander-in-chief of the world’s greatest military, the man responsible for lowering America’s staggering unemployment rate, reducing its record debt, handling the Arab Spring, the civil war in Syria, the Iranian nuclear threat, China’s ascendance — this is what the president was doing?
Lurking on the Internet after midnight and sparring with an 82-year-old actor?
Now, maybe the Obama tweet was written by a staffer in his name. Which is just as troubling — that, after nearly four years of working with Obama, they know him well enough to know that he is small and petty and partisan and that this is the image he wants to project.
But it was actually quite likely that it was the president himself. Earlier in the Republican convention, Obama made a publicity stunt of sitting down at a laptop and engaging in an hour-long chit-chat on the Internet website Reddit.
It’s not that he’s nerdy. It’s that he’s a time-waster, a childish man, given to stunts and not substance. It was really him at the keyboard for the Reddit stunt.
It’s not unlikely that it was really him, staying up past midnight, obsessing about his greatest enemy — Mitt Romney. Not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or a possible Eurozone economic meltdown. But Clint Eastwood. And tweeting.
But Obama has always been unserious. No great accomplishments in life – but two lovingly written autobiographies. No business experience; no military experience; no leadership experience at all, really. Just being wafted ever upward in a series of preparations.
He won the job — that big chair — in 2008. And it was as if he didn’t know what to do with it. He didn’t master events or cause them — they happened to him. He took over at the beginning of a recession — and deepened it. He took over a debt-burdened government, and further indebted it.
The Arab Spring exploded on his watch — he has stood impotently to the side as the Muslim Brotherhood seized it. His solution is what it has always been: Another speech, always on teleprompter; another campaign fundraiser; maybe another golf game. It’s the difference between campaigning and governing; between talking and actually taking steps, actually deciding.