Obama 'Matrix' -- a world of deniability: Column
Tom Rogan 7 a.m. EDT November 2, 2013
Like the sci-fi movie, 'Matrix', has become the know-nothing president. It isn't working.
"The buck stops here."
There's a sustaining beauty to President Harry Truman's desk sign. In four simple words, it offers a defining purpose to an office of immense complexity -- in the end, the president holds the final responsibility.
Most presidents accept this narrative. But nearly five years into office -- after Fast and Furious, after Benghazi, after the snooping on Associated Press phone records, after the IRS political vendetta and now the Obamacare website mess, President Obama has shown his preference for a different kind of "buck" -- with a deliberately amorphous Constitution. By his own choice, Obama has become the "know-nothing" president.
To be fair, Obama's absent responsibility isn't rooted in a villainous conspiracy (call me a RINO, but I don't believe the president is an evil man). Instead, Obama's invisibility encapsulates the delusional looking glass through which he sees the world.
Welcome to the Obama Matrix -- the president's created world of absolute deniability. A world in the unwitting mold of another fictional Matrix … that of the Wachowski brothers.
The protagonists certainly sit well together.
It's obvious that Obama regards himself as "the one" – a presidential "Neo", a pure leader harassed by the emotionalism, incompetence and malevolence of others. In Obama's Matrix, the Republicans constitute "Agent Smith" -- arrogant malcontents driven by an inexorable anger. The American people are the cocooned humans -- requiring "liberation" from their ideological slumber. Valerie Jarrett is "the Oracle" -- the fountain of hard and necessary understanding. Everyone else? They're "the machine" -- the system that constricts Obama's positive intention.
By plugging himself into this Matrix of certainties, Obama has found a self-sustaining moral cause -- the belief that he's responsible for all that's politically favorable and nothing that's politically toxic. Festooned by adoring supporters and fortified behind unquestioning staff, Obama has always presumed a kind of Moses-esque self-awareness. These are the springs from which the presidential Matrix flows.
Of course, there's a big problem here.
As with "Neo", Obama's Matrix isn't real. In fact, it's the definition of un-reality: an imitation embraced in order to excuse absent leadership. For many years this pretense has been papered over by the GOP's fetish for political self-immolation. Nevertheless, the GOP doesn't alter the foundational truth -- Obama's Matrix is a dream world divorced from courage and facts.
Promises mean little in this world because when they're broken, Obama just redefines the promise. Take Obama's "red lines" in Syria. The principle was an explicit clarification that punitive military action would follow Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of WMDs. What followed was a Russian swindle that broadcast American impotence. Except, in the Obama Matrix, Obama had really won; it was the critics who were mistaken, we who lacked the intellectual sufficiency to grasp the brilliance of Obama's brain.
But now the White House has a problem. Now, finally, the American people have had enough. Now, reality has encircled the White House.
In the political storm that the health care debacle has reaped, the president and his staff are realizing that at a basic level, the "buck" has objective form. Slowly, they're recognizing that the shrine of plausible deniability eventually becomes implausible. Whether in business or government, leadership is about more than positive intentions -- it's about managing the consequences of choices. As the Merovingian explains to "Neo," "I drank too much wine; now I must (use the restroom). Cause and effect.''
The president should gaze down to the Resolute Desk at which he works. Etched in its essence is a warning -- hubris portends a dangerous course. The ice is closing. If Obama wants to salvage his presidency, he must unplug himself from his Matrix of denial.