was in his element as he addressed the bipartisan health-care summit
he had convened for the principal purpose of shaming the recalcitrant
lectern had been taken away and he had been forced to agree to remain
seated but it was nevertheless a cherished opportunity for him to
scold, patronise and peevishly disdain his opponents – and
to pontificate for nearly six hours.
To be fair,
Obama spoke for a mere 119 minutes, as opposed to the 110 minutes
he deigned to allocate to the Republicans and the 114 minutes he
gave to his fellow Democrats. When challenged about the two-to-one
imbalance between the parties, Mr Obama shot back: "I’m the
Again and again,
he put Republicans down with sarcastic asides, berating them like
naughty schoolboys for bringing in a copy of the 2,400-page Senate
health bill as a "prop" and informing them of the need
to "get our facts straight".
event, dreamt up by the White House to create the desired "atmospherics"
for an attempt to push his health-care bill through Congress by
Easter, underlined the reality that Obama is not a leader or even
really a politician – he is a professor.
is convinced of his own intellectual superiority. When his pupils
fail to realise that he knows what is good for them, he simply repeats
himself in the expectation that the simpletons will eventually understand.
As the astute
psephologist Michael Barone has pointed out, Obama can be understood
in large part by reflecting on where he spent his adult life before
arriving at the White House – Los Angeles, New York, Cambridge
three decades, he lived in liberal campus communities where he was
insulated from the real world by comfortable consensus and shared
Now that Obama
inhabits the self-reinforcing cocoon of the White House, this background
has become a dangerous liability – and could spell disaster
for Democrats in the November midterm elections.
graced the health-care summit with his characteristic silky eloquence,
the event was both a sham and a failure.