On Obama's relationship with the rich and famous:
He was new to the national elite and enjoyed his membership palpably. This came out in debates and town meetings where he often mentioned that the profits from his books had lodged him in the highest tax bracket. It would emerge later in his comment on Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan: ‘I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen.’ One can’t imagine Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy saying such a thing, or wanting to say it. They had known ‘those guys’ all their lives and felt no tingle of reflected glory. Obama has not yet recognised that his conspicuous relish of his place among the elite does him two kinds of harm: it spurs resentment in people lower down the ladder; and it diminishes his stature among the grandees by showing that he needs them.On his humorlessness:
A spontaneous ability to laugh at oneself, or to make a witty remark that doesn’t wound, is always appreciated in a politician, but it has not been given to Obama. His self-depreciation is stiff and rehearsed, and his cutting comments always sting. His equability in interviews has partly concealed this defect from an admiring press; the radio shock-jocks make more of it, and dwell on his superior airs. When Obama feels edgy or tired, his manner turns condescending and priggish. It is at just such moments that he seems most heartily one of the elite. His saying to Hillary Clinton in an early debate when she called Obama likeable, ‘You’re likeable enough, Hillary,’ was an early example of the propensity. He did it again in the healthcare summit when John McCain was making heavy weather of the campaign promises Obama hadn’t kept, and Obama, where no response was necessary, chose to say: ‘Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning any more: the election’s over.’ Before the putdown, McCain had looked small and confused – there was dead air all around him – but Obama by his response awarded him the pathos of a beaten man. An oddly unpleasant schoolmasterish moment.
On his national security policy:
the delay in the closing of Guantánamo might be supposed an effect of sheer miscalculation, except that it so plainly falls in with the Obama style. Obama is unique among politicians in running out the clock when there are many minutes left on it and he is not ahead. He did that on Guantánamo. He did it with Israel-Palestine when he required a settlement freeze and then assumed, if he waited long enough, Netanyahu would grow amenable. He did it and still is doing it with Iran...
He is, by nature, a man of tendencies rather than commitments.He would like things to improve for everyone, even for the rich, but especially for the poor because they need it. Yet he shuns the language of economic equality. He is a Fabian non-socialist. Libertarians are right to see him as an outsize admirer of legitimate authority who relies on state power far too much and too implicitly.