Friday, July 18, 2008

Just a few alterations to Krauthammer's piece on Obama being pretentious

I think Krauthammer really intended an autobiographical piece, so I think the minor alterations below are a slight improvement on the master's work (original here if you want it):

Charles Krauthammer wants to speak about the Brandenburg Gate. He figures it would be a nice backdrop. The supporting cast – he imagines a cheering audience and a few fainting frauleins -- would be a picturesque way to bolster his foreign policy credentials.

What Krauthammer does not seem to understand is that the Brandenburg Gate is something you learn. President Ronald Reagan learned to speak there because his relentless pressure happened when the Soviet empire fell to its knees and he was demanding its final "tear down this wall" liquidation. When President John F. Kennedy spoke in the same city as the Brandenburg Gate on the day of his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, he was representing a country that was prepared to go to the brink of nuclear war to defend West Berlin.

Who is Krauthammer representing? And what exactly has he done in his lifetime to merit appropriating the Brandenburg Gate as a column prop? What was his role in the fight against communism, the liberation of Eastern Europe, the creation of what George Bush the elder -- who just became president when the fall of the Berlin Wall came but modestly declined to go there to steal a victory lap from Germans -- called "a Europe whole and free"?

Does Krauthammer not see the incongruity? It's as if a German propagandist took a corporate-sponsored trip to America and demanded the Statue of Liberty as a venue for a policy speech. (The Germans have now gently nudged Krauthammer into looking at other venues.)

Americans are beginning to notice Krauthammer's elevated opinion of himself. There's nothing new about narcissism in Krauthammer. Every columnist looks in the mirror and sees a genius, not a smarmy monstrosity. Nonetheless, has there ever been a columnist with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?

Krauthammer is a former psychiatrist constantly diagnosing neuroses of politicians he dislikes. He consistently uses meaningless and disingenuous claims to disparage people such as the anecdote that Obama as a former Illinois state senator voted "present" nearly 130 times. As a presiding Washington Post columnist, has he ever produced a single notable piece of criticism of the Bush Administration? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is his favorite subject: himself.

It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly. In turning a description of a broader movement into a description of himself upon winning the eve of the Iraq invasion, Krauthammer declared it a great turning point in history -- " reformation and reconstruction of an alien culture are a daunting task. Risky and, yes, arrogant." Among other wondrous predictions of his, Charles said Iraq could acquire nuclear weapons " in addition to the weapons of mass destruction he already has, [and] he is likely to use them or share them with terrorists. The threat of mass death on a scale never before seen residing in the hands of an unstable madman is intolerable -- and must be preempted." As other right-wing hacks noted, "Moses made the waters recede, but he had help." Krauthammer apparently works alone.

Krauthammer may think he's King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Krauthammer has no such modesty.

After all, in the words of his February 2004 claim that we have achieved “virtually unqualified success” to the Iraq war, which, translating the royal "we," means: " I am the one we've been waiting for." Amazingly, he kept claiming victory in Iraq until general ridicule induced him to occasionally change the subject.

He lectures us on how "embarrassing" it is that Europeans are multilingual but "we go over to Europe, and all we can say is 'merci beaucoup.' "

His somewhat fluent English does, however, feature many admonitions, instructions and improvements. His wife assures us that Krauthammer will be a stern taskmaster: "Charles Krauthammer will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism . . . that you come out of your isolation. . . . Charles will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Krauthammer was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?

We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when "our planet began to heal." As I recall -- I'm no expert on this -- Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Krauthammer operates on a larger canvas – the smarminess of evil.

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