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American Narcissus (cont.), Bob Feller, 1918-2010, & more

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Dec 27, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 15 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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American Narcissus (cont.)

American Narcissus (cont.), Bob Feller, 1918-2010, & more

Image Credit: Gary Locke

A few weeks ago Jonathan V. Last catalogued at length the splendid narcissism of Barack Obama. Many readers sent in their own favorite moments of the president’s mirror-gazing and Obama did his part by adding fresh examples.

For instance, last week Obama took time for an event in Northern Vir-ginia where he read to a class of second graders. The book he chose? Of Thee I Sing, by Barack Obama. The week before, Obama began a statement honoring Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, with the following: “One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize—an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice.” He then graciously allowed that Liu was “far more deserving of this award than I was.” No kidding.

But while Obama will downplay his own magnificence every once in a blue moon, he gets testy when others do so. In late November, Obama held a public meeting with Hamid Karzai. The Afghan president thanked him, saying that Obama had “set the tone right.” Obama responded, “That was my goal. Every once in a while, I do things right.” The president’s unscripted moments are often uncomfortable. At a ceremony conferring the Medal of Honor on Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta in November, the president quipped, “Now, I’m going to go off-script here for a second and just say I really like this guy.” Two honors for the price of one!

One reader flagged a passage from Ryan Lizza’s 2004 Atlantic profile of then-state senator Obama. Toward the end of the piece, Lizza describes watching the candidate doodle while making a series of fundraising calls:

I couldn’t help noticing, when we sat down to talk in the dilapidated storefront that houses his Springfield campaign headquarters, that the blue-pen drawing he’d doodled on his newspaper during fundraising calls was a portrait of himself.

Other readers pointed to a 2004 interview with Beliefnet.com, where Obama described the concept of sin as “Being out of alignment with my values,” and to Obama’s creation, following his November 2008 victory, of the “Office of the President Elect”—just in case anyone forgot. Many readers were fond of the moment during the presidential campaign when Obama finally tossed Jeremiah Wright under the bus. After sitting through years of Wright’s racist, hateful, anti-American sermons, what finally prompted Obama to cut ties with the reverend was Wright’s description of Obama as a garden-variety politician. At the event where he turned on Wright, Obama explained,

I want to use this press conference to make people absolutely clear that obviously whatever relationship I had with Reverend Wright has changed as a consequence of this. I don’t think that he showed much concern for me. I don’t—more importantly, I don’t think he showed much concern for what we are trying to do in this campaign and what we’re trying to do for the American people and with the American people.

And finally: “That’s—that’s a show of disrespect to me. It’s a—it is also, I think, an insult to what we’ve been trying to do in this campaign.”

But for sheer hilarity, it will be difficult to top the following exchange between Obama and Indian businessman Bhupendra Kansagra, at a roundtable meeting during the president’s recent trip to Mumbai. The president tried and failed to guess where Kansagra was going with his remarks:

Mr. Kansagra: Thank you. Welcome, Mr. President, to India. As a fellow Kenyan, I’m very proud to see that you have made—

The President: Made something of myself? [Laughter.]

Mr. Kansagra: —India the focus of your drive for exports out of the U.S. To that effect, the 30 aircraft order, which is the second of such orders we have placed with Boeing, will enhance SpiceJet’s penetration into the Indian low-cost travel, low-cost transportation market, which really is the focus for SpiceJet.

Bob Feller, 1918-2010

Hot Stove League action picked up this past week as the Boston nine pulled ahead of their Bronx rivals with the acquisition of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. In the senior circuit, the Philadelphia club signed the game’s top southpaw hurler in Cliff Lee—just as one of the greatest right-handers ever to throw a baseball passed away at the age of 92. 

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