What should be the theme song for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign?
Some think it should be Carly Simon's 1972 smash hit, "You're So Vain," (I bet you
think this speech is about you).
Most of us have a higher opinion of ourselves than objective circumstances warrant.
But in few of us is the gap between how we view ourselves and reality as wide as it
is with Sen. Obama.
Barack Obama is a bright, handsome, personable guy who gives a good speech (when
he's working from a prepared text). But he's never actually done much of anything.
The biggest tic on his resume to date is that he was president of the Harvard Law
Review. That's impressive, but not exactly the stuff of Churchill, Roosevelt or
Reagan, guys who could turn a phrase, too, but who are remembered for more than
that. Sen. Obama's self regard is such that he already has written two
Little seems to annoy Sen. Obama more than when others do not hold him in as high
esteem as he holds himself. Sen. Obama apparently was dozing in the pews when his
pastor said America is no better than al Qaida, and that our government created the
AIDs virus to exterminate blacks. But his ears perked up when the Rev. Jeremiah
Wright implied Sen. Obama was insincere in describing their relationship:
"That's a show of disrespect to me," Sen. Obama said.
A focus on himself and a hypersensitivity to perceived slights may explain why Sen.
Obama decided President Bush was speaking about him when the president denounced
appeasement in a speech to the Israeli parliament May 15.
"I understand when you are running for office sometimes you think the world revolves
around you," responded White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. "That is not always
true, and it is not true in this case."
Sen. Obama's prolonged response to the Knesset speech -- one of the largest unforced
errors I've seen in politics -- suggests another candidate for campaign theme song,
Sam Cooke's 1960 ditty, "What a Wonderful World it Would Be." The opening lyric is:
"Don't know much about history."
In arguing to reporters that face to face meetings with America's enemies without
preconditions isn't appeasement, Sen. Obama claimed President Kennedy's summit
meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna helped defuse the Cuban
The Vienna summit took place in June of 1961, the Cuban missile crisis in October of
1962. Many historians believe that that summit was a cause of the Cuban missile
"There is reason to believe that Khrushchev took Kennedy's measure in June 1961 and
decided this was a young man who would shrink from hard decisions," wrote Elie Abel,
author of "The Missiles of October."
In his victory speech after the North Carolina primary, Sen. Obama said:
"I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to
talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy
did, and Truman did."
Neither FDR nor Truman met with Hitler, Tojo or Mussolini before or during World War
II. Their policy was unconditional surrender. They did meet with Stalin during
World War II. But the Soviet Union was then a U.S. ally.
Then Sen. Obama said his willingness to meet face to face with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
of Iran could be a "Nixon to China" moment. But Nixon could make his overture to
split China from the Soviet Union precisely because of his reputation as a tough
anti-communist. Sen. Obama does not enjoy a reputation for toughness. And there
were plenty of preconditions before Nixon and Mao met face to face. When you're in
a hole, you should stop digging.
Another lyric in the Sam Cooke song is: "don't know much geography." In a speech in
Oregon last week, Sen. Obama said he'd campaigned in 57 states, and in the "Oregon
plan" his campaign released, he promised to protect "national treasures like the
Great Lakes," the nearest of which is about 1,700 miles east of Oregon.
This week Sen. Obama said Hillary Clinton had an advantage in Kentucky because "she
comes from the nearby state of Arkansas." Sen. Obama's home state of Illinois
borders on Kentucky. Arkansas doesn't.
If Sen. McCain were saying these things, there'd be much media speculation about
"senior moments." Is Sen. Obama suffering from early onset Alzheimers? Or is he
just not as smart as he imagines himself to be?