Recently over at Facebook I posted concerning Barack Obama and the ways his political style parallels the rebellion of Absalom, son of King David. Absalom attacked Jerusalem and David went into exile, leaving his concubines to watch over his palace. Absalom’s first act in taking over the seat of power was to publicly rape his father’s concubines in order to win over the hearts of those populists for whom “getting even” is always the supreme end of political conquest.
There are a number of political styles, and David’s and Absalom’s exemplify two styles. David had been primarily a uniter with some inconsistencies, while Absalom was a divider without the least self-doubt.
Dividers appeal to what is base in people rather than what is noble. The desire to get even never fails to garner large public approval since there are always those who resent the world that is and desire to bring it down, or “transform” it, if you will. Dividers will often use methods designed to scandalize the virtues and values of a dominant segment of the population in order to solidify the loyalty of those who hate the prevailing norms.
Barack Obama is a divider nonpareil. Some of this is owing to his relentlessly ideological approach to governing. Nothing is more central to his style than progressive doctrinal rigidity. Some of it is, however, even more pernicious than progressive dogmatism, which is saying something.
There is in the President a kind of gratuitous malevolence against his political enemies. As is well known, he is much less tolerant towards his Republican counterparts than he is towards even the most depraved of regimes such as Iran and North Korea. One wishes to hear the President address, say, Syria, Russia or the mullahs in the impatient and harassing tones he reserves for our most faithful ally in the Middle East, Israel. One wishes in vain.
Why this inversion of normal political and personal values?
Much of it a learned response to reality. We live in a world where a popular culture largely steeped in the spirit of rebellion and antinomianism holds sway over much of our youth and emerging adults. Never mind that this rebellion is largely hypocritical and hugely profitable for its practitioners. The rebel trope is now so engrained in the secular western worldview that it is unquestioned and even taken as normative and prescriptive.
Much of the President’s learned response is also ideological. Marxism and its French critical apparatus is expressed as the necessity to vilify and outrage one’s opponents. “Epater la bourgeoisie,” goes the old Socialist maxim: Violate the decorum of the enemy. In this sense, the liberal mindset makes everything profoundly personal. This also explains the central role of profanity and obscenity on the left, and the imperative to “shame” those who dissent. Sarah Palin or Brendan Eich, anyone?
The President’s typical responses were learned as a child in his mother’s political rants as a member of the New Left. They are the legendary stuff of student intimidation of faculty and administrators, where their effectiveness has been almost complete. They have been tested in the street theater of ’60s anarchists such as Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and Norman Mailer. They reflect the tactics of the community organizer, whose binary worldview splits humanity into oppressors (whites, Christians, capitalists, landlords, entrepreneurs) and oppressed (certain minorities, women, millionaire rappers, criminals, deviants of many kinds, homosexuals) with no commonalities among them.
This urge to piss on one’s opponents persists in the President’s manner and policies. Many of his initiatives make no sense apart from this psychological trait, and attempts to find a consistent thread in his policies are largely unsuccessful.
One might even conclude that as Absalom had no compelling need to rape his father’s concubines, at least from the perspective of his will to power, his decision to do so derived from the sheer pleasure of humiliating his closest family members. As a spoiled son, he had already killed one of his brothers, an act that resulted in his banishment from Israel for a number of years. When he came back, he was resentment personified, and took his revenge, personally.
And perhaps that is another reason the President acts as he does. Like Absalom, he was a coddled and spoiled child who developed a chip on his shoulder, and now in some way, beneath all the ideology and progressive sanctimony, there still beats a heart of one cheated and determined to get even.
God spare us.