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Obama’s Vanity

8:44 AM, Feb 16, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Here’s President Obama, at a fundraiser last night in Los Angeles: “[T]he American people, beneath all the pain and hurt and frustration … still want to believe that that change is possible, and there's still that hope there.  … Mario Cuomo once said that campaigning is poetry and governance is prose.  … [W]e’ve been slogging through ‘prose’ for the last three years, and sometimes that gets people discouraged. Because people, they like the poetry.”

“[P]eople, they like the poetry.” Well, yes, I, along with many of my fellow “people,” do like poetry. Not so much the speeches of Barack Obama, which he seems to consider poetry. But actual poetry, written by real poets.

What I and many of my fellow “people” don't like is President Obama's policies. Does that thought even occur to our vain president? Apparently not. Obama thinks that if people disapprove of him, it’s because they don’t understand that governing is prose, and expect poetry. Isn’t this rather condescending? Might it not be that people understand that governing is prosaic, but that they disagree with his real, concrete, existing prosaic policies?

We’ll see in November if President Obama can once again charm the “people” with his pseudo-poetry. Meanwhile, in case President Obama is interested in some real poetry, here are a couple of stanzas of “Vanity of Vanities,” by the late 19th century American poet Robert Fuller Murray, for him to consider:

Yea, all things are vanity,
And what else but vain are ye?
Ye who boast yourselves the kings
Over all created things.

Kings! whence came your right to reign?
Ye shall be dethroned again.
Yet for this, your one brief hour,
Wield your mockery of power.

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