In a 2.12 Huffington Post-ing, Center for Transatlantic Relations senior fellow Michael Brenner explains how President Barack Obama has gradually revealed his true nature as that of a “moderate Republican before the species became extinct.”
The Obama enigma “grows day by day,” he writes. “Contradiction after contradiction, abrupt gear shifts, perpetual motion that never reaches a destination. ‘Obscene’ Wall Street bonuses suddenly transmute into well-earned rewards for a good-guy golfing buddy; the imperative to act boldly on the jobs crisis means placing it the callous hands of Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley of health care fame; the plotting of exit strategies from Afghanistan by 2011 becomes a ‘long as we have to’ occupation. All these contrapuntal reversals against a sound track of non-stop exhortation and a restless shuttling from one photo-op to another. Who is this guy, anyway?
“A few elements of Obama’s personality are now evident: a strong narcissistic streak, an ingrained sense of superiority, a nimbleness — intellectual and political — enabled by the incredible lightness of his conviction about anything, an audacious ambition yet no gumption for a fight. Behind these traits, there is something even more basic discernible. Obama is two people, one superimposed on the other.
“The visible surface man is the epitome of an enlightened, Ivy League, socially responsible liberal. This is Obama the community organizer (albeit an exceptionally non-confrontational one), Obama the African-American political activist who attends Jeremiah Wright‘s cosmopolitan church, Obama the orator who routinely hits the high ‘Cs’ of the call to conscience, Obama the optimist who appeals to, and for the better angels of our idealistic American selves. This is Obama the African-American who moved enough voters to be elected President of the United States.
“To this portrait, we must juxtapose the other Barack Obama who has surfaced as he quickly shed his ‘liberal’ skin amidst the trappings of the White House. This other personality, I contend, is the underlying one — truer to the man’s core nature.
“This is the Obama who twice in his young career sought out positions in big corporate law firms; this is the Obama who was raised by three Kansans who instilled in him conservative heartland values; this is the Obama who relishes wealth and what it can buy; this is the Obama who feels more at ease with his Wall Street buddies (Jaime Dimon, et al) playing golf than with anyone of the Move On American crowd; this is the Obama who chose as his trusted confidant that unscrupulous, liberals-be-damned fixer Rahm Emanuel; this is the Obama who absorbed the spirit of Ronald Reagan‘s America he himself has said stands as the model of inspirational leadership.”