Barack Obama vs. the Rock Obama
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Fred Armisen's impression of Barack Obama on "Saturday Night Live" needs a lot of work, but what he gets right is sometimes devastating. He's dead on when he mimics the president's passivity, halting cadence and weird, self-satisfied demeanor in the face of mounting political challenges.
Former WWE wrestler turned matinee idol Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson teams up with Fred Armisen in a recurring skit about the president that I wish had an inkling of truth about it.
In the skit, Fred Armisen plays Mr. Obama as an always-rational, but ineffectual Democratic president who appeals to the better angels of his Republican opposition instead of confronting them.
Unlike the real deal, Mr. Armisen's version of Obama eventually loses his cool in the face of Republican obstructionism.
With his back turned to the audience, Armisen's Obama undergoes a transformation from mild-mannered rationalist to "The Rock Obama" -- a Hulk-like version of himself with bulging biceps and a bad temper.
Dwayne Johnson's performance as The Rock Obama is funny and cathartic. Maintaining the clipped, professorial tone of his alter ego, the Rock Obama tosses the cowed Republicans through walls and windows even while "negotiating" with them.
Unlike the man currently occupying the White House, The Rock Obama understands that he has a duty to make "the fierce urgency of now" more than a memorable campaign catch phrase.
He isn't under the illusion that his foes can ever be placated.
The Rock Obama knows something that Barack Obama seems to have forgotten -- that the Republican strategy for regaining power is predicated upon the defeat of the White House's entire domestic agenda -- period.
To say I'm disappointed with Mr. Obama's passivity in the face of this threat to his presidency and the Democratic majority is putting it mildly. I'm appalled by it.
If "birthers," Tea Partiers and a large swath of conservatives hadn't already cornered the market on crazy this year, I would be tempted to believe that Barack Obama truly is a Manchurian candidate -- for the Republicans!
From its economic policies to Afghanistan to the health care debacle in the Senate, the administration is determined to be the opposite of what many of us believed we were voting for.
I thought when I voted for Barack Obama that he would be a president who would be willing to get his hands dirty and that we would always know where he stood.
He used to speak like someone who had a vision for the country. Now he hedges and parses his words like a lawyer for an insurance firm.
What happened to the man who showed up on the campaign trail with specific promises about how he'd represent the interests of the American people after eight years of incompetence, stupidity and war?
What happened to all those promises of transparency?
Where did the skepticism about Bush-era war policies go?
Each day brings new headlines about the Obama administration siding with its predecessor on civil liberties or our right to know embarrassing things that were done in our name.
I'm beginning to believe that Barack Obama would have been better off serving at least one full-term in the U.S. Senate before becoming president.
Had he been Sen. Obama during a Hillary Clinton presidency when comprehensive health care legislation was making the rounds, he would have had a front row seat for Sen. Joe Lieberman's shameful monkey business.
His unwillingness to punish disloyal Democrats or go to war with Republicans has created a leadership vacuum Sen. Lieberman and other opportunists are happy to occupy.
What's going to happen when climate change legislation is debated and a key Democrat insists that clean air is "overrated"? As usual, the White House will fold for the sake of getting "something."
I'm sure the president gets mad about a lot of things, but he needs to get disgusted enough to be a leader.
He needs to blow his top and throw briefing books against the Oval Office walls.
Most of all, he needs to learn how to lose a fight honestly and not settle for Pyrrhic victories in the name of politics.
First Published December 18, 2009 12:00 am