September 17, 2013

"Community organizers like President Barack Obama make great husbands."

Begins a Margaret Carlson column.
They listen before making decisions, never insist that it’s their way or the highway, and won’t leave the cap off the toothpaste tube. They consult on the big life stuff such as where to live, and they rarely draw red lines. When they do, they agonize over whether sending the children to bed without dessert sends the right message.

This must make Michelle Obama very happy; Americans, less and less. The president’s community-organizing skills don’t so much make him lead from behind as they make him lead this way and that (let’s bomb Syria; oh, dear, let’s not). He wants to please everyone, but in the real world, only one faction can be satisfied at a time, leaving everyone else very unsatisfied....
Is this Obama's problem, wanting to please everyone, wanting to give everyone their say?

And has it ever been established that the community organizer phase of Obama's life represented his true core, the real structure of his character, where his most basic attributes had the best fit?


It's something he did between the years 1985 and 1988. It's a meme about him, a meme that worked as he campaigned for political office (and campaigning has occupied far more of Obama's time over the years than community organizing).

Here's Byron York in September 2008 asking "What Did Obama Do As A Community Organizer?
And is it really a qualification to be president?" Excerpt:
... Obama seemed to realize that it was very, very hard to get anything done. “He didn’t see organizing making any significant changes in things,” Jerry Kellman recalled.

The solution, Obama felt, was to find a way to political power of his own.

“He was constantly thinking about his path to significance and power,” Mike Kruglik told me. “He said, ‘I need to go there [Harvard Law School] to find out more about power. How do powerful people think? What kind of networks do they have? How do they connect to each other?’”

In a few months, Obama was gone. He had been an organizer for three years. When he returned to Chicago after law school...
Note that law school also takes 3 years.
... he did some voter-registration work and then joined a civil-rights practice. In 1996, he ran for the state senate. Eight years later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and within a year after that he was exploring a run for president....

Community organizing is just as essential in understanding Obama. But what does it say about him?...

When he left for law school, Obama wondered what he had accomplished as an organizer. He certainly had some achievements, but he did not — perhaps could not — concede that there might be something wrong with his approach to Chicago’s problems. Instead of questioning his own premises, he concluded that he simply needed more power to get the job done. So he made plans to run for political office. And in each successive office, he has concluded that he did not have enough power to get the job done, so now he is running for the most powerful office in the land.

And what if he gets it? He’ll be the biggest, strongest organizer in the world. He’ll dazzle the country with his message of hope and possibility. But we shouldn’t expect much to actually get done.

46 comments:

Anton said...

Margaret Carlson needs to stop masterbating while writing her columns. It's getting silly...

cubanbob said...

Yes he is well qualified for the role of Government Husband. But that isn't part of the job description of his current gig.

Evan said...

Surprised you didn't tag this one with "Obama the boyfriend"...

Anton said...

That's "ur," not "er"!

Strelnikov said...

No, this Margaret Carlson's problem, along with 90% of all Left wing female journalists and a certain portion of their male counterparts: They're in love with Obama.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

I appreciate that you do the hard work, like reading Carlson, so we don't have to... but could you try to be a bit more careful how you report back? I lost at least 5 IQ points just reading the brief little excerpt you included.

jacksonjay said...

Did Maggie hear his speech yesterday? Please everyone? She must be kidding!

If one reads the book he might have written (or it could be the one he probably wrote, I don't remember) he admits to being a failure as a community organizer! He didn't get much done!

His success was based on winning elections by demonizing his opponent, waxing populist and voting present!

Mr. Limbaugh has an interesting opinion about his success!

Larry J said...

In line with this news from last week, by all appearances Obama is a very good father.

FleetUSA said...

I would suggest that campaigning has represented more of Obama's time that his work as a Senator or President as well.

He just loves teleprompted political speeches.

Henry said...

He wants to please everyone,

Earth to Margaret Colson: spouses don't like that personality trait any more than electorates.

However, this column isn't really about that. Colson is playing the old game of making nice while she shreds the Presidents' cover.

He's a nice guy, she said, and nice guys finish last.

SteveR said...

He's never made any effort to please me, and I'm not in a small minority.

Mark O said...

It is a religion.

Steve said...

Margaret Carlson doesn't know anything about "community organizers." Forget listening. Here are the tools in the family organizer tool box.

10) Crowds of union thugs to convince wife to make him pot roast.

9) Secret kickbacks from family budget to fund golf outings.

8) Sympathetic media to forward stories that he isn't getting laid often enough.

7) Threatens to have children limit homework to 30 minutes a day if he has to drive them to dance lessons one more time.

6) Savages wife in the press for unintended consequences of limited homework.

I was going to do ten but community organizers just aren't that funny.

chrisnavin.com said...

I like your tag: 'Obama, The Mood Elevator'

Erase the last five years. If this guy came by, running for office, suave and a little glamorous, hip to the youth, talking oh so kindly and thoughtfully about gay marriage, race, and being more responsible about our power abroad...and he brought you flowers...

Harvard Law, nice family, good campaigner

...would you take a chance and make him your boyfriend for a little while?

Molly said...

I'm afraid too much has gotten done.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Don't know about that. I sense zero chemistry between Barack and Michelle, and have long suspected she is a beard. Because, Reggie Love.

Robert Cook said...

Obama's problem is not that he wants to please everyone, but that he wants to please the already rich and powerful, the 1%, rather than those he lied to to win their votes--the working people of this country, as well as those without jobs who believed he would be a change agent that would result in more jobs becoming available.

CWJ said...

Like the Margary Eagan piece posted earlier, this is a triumph of narrative story telling over documented history, facts, and actual behavior.

While there is much to pick apart, I'll only comment of on one of her halo inducing analogies. Anyone who lived through and observed the last fifty years of actual Chicago "community organizing" would be the last to say they "never insist that it's their way or the highway."

As earlier, my urge to spit take was epic. Fortunately, I had finished my coffee this time.

Seeing Red said...

What are you talking about? He's done a lot, we're all part of the "federal family" now, so lean in and get with the program.

Birkel said...

1. Byron York's piece seems to hold up pretty well.

2. Margaret Carlson wants to marry a womanly man. Why?

Matthew Sablan said...

"They listen before making decisions, never insist that it’s their way or the highway."

-- Do they ever draw red lines, or insist that they "won" and that he can do things even if everyone has yet to come to an agreement on what should be done? It's almost quaint how disconnected the view of the president is with his reality.

I can imagine a *real* husband like that wouldn't be appreciated.

chrisnavin.com said...

Out of the stew of the 60's cultural revolution, can women shape men into what they want them to be?

Bill Clinton? Barack Obama?

What other costs and benefits may have come with these changes in our society?

RecChief said...

It appears to me that 'community organizing' is about whipping up emotions and resentment for a real or imagined slight. Often times it is an act of futility as in Obama's attempt to force an employer to re-open facilities and bring back jobs.

Community organizers rarely, if ever, bring together people of differing viewpoints, but must set one group in opposition to another. In that light, doesn't it explain comments such as 'punish our enemies [at the polls]'? Doesn't it further explain his inability to work with Republicans in any meaningful way?

Mingus Jerry said...

Some people will simply refuse to acknowledge the emperor has no clothes.

LilyBart said...


...never insist that it’s their way or the highway, and won’t leave the cap off the toothpaste tube

Who is she talking about? Surely not the current POTUS, Mr. "I Won". Plus, his wife has already said he's a slob at home. And I can assure you, he doen't care if he pleases the actual citizens.

Ms. Carlson's still projecting what she'd like to see into that man.

Michael K said...

Is Margaret still promising blowjobs to politicians who keep abortion legal ?

CWJ said...

I had not read that Byron York piece before today. Thank you for embedding it. The theory that B. Obama kept moving upwards in the pursuit of a position where his desires would not be met with opposition is as persuasive as it is disturbing.

It is certainly of a piece with his governing by executive order and exemptions when the law or constitution don't support him. It is certainly of a piece with his penchant to argue against strawmen. It is certainly of a piece with his blaming everyone and everything other than himself. And it certainly is of a piece with his caving when actually encountering stronger personalities or positions.

Its not a pretty picture. And yet we continue to encounter those who in varying degrees, both implicit and explicit, suggest that it is we who have failed him.

Brent said...

absolutely everything about Obama's Presidency can be explained: an acknowledged intelligent man with absolutely no executive experience in the absolutely highest executive job in the world.

That will be the story of his Presidency. History will be less kind to Barack Obama than just about every other United States president before him. Which, considering the historical precedent of being the first African-American President, is doubly sad.

And yet - completely avoidable. Obama voters - and Obama voters alone - will be entirely to blame for this historic period of administrative incompetence by an untested, inexperienced, administratively unqualified executive.

Sam L. said...

That Kool-Aid Margaret drank has messed up her mind.

Hyphenated American said...

Is this the same Obama who pushed through his ill-conceived and unpopular obamacare through a series of corrupt deals in congress? Same guy who proudly talked about rev. Wright and his anti-white racism in his memoirs? Tis is Obama, who infamously wrote "white man's greed keeps the world in need"?
And speaking of Obama the husband, his own wife said that he was a snoring, bad-smelling creep who leaves his socks everywhere.

Hyphenated American said...

Is this the same Obama who pushed through his ill-conceived and unpopular obamacare through a series of corrupt deals in congress? Same guy who proudly talked about rev. Wright and his anti-white racism in his memoirs? Tis is Obama, who infamously wrote "white man's greed keeps the world in need"?
And speaking of Obama the husband, his own wife said that he was a snoring, bad-smelling creep who leaves his socks everywhere.

damikesc said...

I'm curious in what world women wouldn't be offended by such rubbish being offered as something chicks would like.

Obama doesn't do his way or the highway? Is Margaret on crack? He is the Unitary Executive the left wet themselves over so under Bush. He is Bush on steroids.

And, sadly, Cookie is right. Obama couldn't be more beholden to major money interests than he is. He has a hard time even paying lip service to the poor. It seems "Hey, the stock market is going great" is confused as actually being the same as a growing economy.

He is the reincarnation of FDR --- who was also an economics dimbulb.

Hyphenated American said...

The actual quotes from princess Michele about Obama...

"When host Ellen DeGeneres asked if the President picks up his socks at home, Michelle responded: "No, he doesn't. He thinks he's neat, but he has people who help him ... The people who pick up your socks, those are the neat people."


"
you know we have this ritual in the morning. We get up and they want ten more minutes so they can come in my bed and if Dad isn’t there _ because he is too snore-y and stinky, they don’t want ever to get in the bed with him _ but we cuddle up and we talk..."

Not exactly the guy from the article, right?

Ann Althouse said...

"Not exactly the guy from the article, right?"

You have to understand Michelle's quote there in the context of its time.

Here's the way I saw it: Michelle is so convinced that we believe in her husband's God-like fabulousness that she wants to make him seem more down to earth, which is a way of making him even better.

RecChief said...

"Here's the way I saw it: Michelle is so convinced that we believe in her husband's God-like fabulousness that she wants to make him seem more down to earth, which is a way of making him even better."

Shorter Michelle: See, he is just like you little people.
And The Middle Class (tm).
And For the Children (tm).

Lydia said...

community organizer = agitator

Heck, even the New Republic wasn't afraid to say that, at least not in this piece from 2007, The Agitator, which discusses his community organizing work in depth and also provides this interesting reminder:

In [his book Dreams from My Father], Obama spent some 150 pages on his four years in Chicago working as an organizer, but there's little discussion of the theory that undergirded his work and informed that of his teachers. Alinsky is the missing layer of his account."

Nice move, Obama.

And maybe Margaret Carlson should have read this:

Galluzzo [one of the Chicagao community organizers who groomed Obama for that work] shared with me the manual he uses to train new organizers, which is little different from the version he used to train Obama in the '80s. It is filled with workshops and chapter headings on understanding power: "power analysis," "elements of a power organization," "the path to power." Galluzzo told me that many new trainees have an aversion to Alinsky's gritty approach because they come to organizing as idealists rather than realists. But Galluzzo's manual instructs them to get over these hang-ups. "We are not virtuous by not wanting power," it says. "We are really cowards for not wanting power," because "power is good" and "powerlessness is evil."

The other fundamental lesson Obama was taught is Alinsky's maxim that self-interest is the only principle around which to organize people. (Galluzzo's manual goes so far as to advise trainees in block letters: "get rid of do-gooders in your church and your organization.") Obama was a fan of Alinsky's realistic streak. "The key to creating successful organizations was making sure people's self-interest was met," he told me, "and not just basing it on pie-in-the-sky idealism. So there were some basic principles that remained powerful then, and in fact I still believe in."


Power and self-interest. Perfect capsule of Obama's presidency.

Almost Ali said...

In the parlance of his preferred race, Obama is the quintessential jive turkey. What's especially disturbing, however, is his volunteer army of enablers and sycophants. And no matter how much damage he does, they blindly clamor for more. So, to his many followers he is god, turning peaceniks into war mongers right before their eyes.

As for Margaret Carlson; yet another in the long list of reasons to repeal the 19th Amendment.

Larry J said...

Brent said...
absolutely everything about Obama's Presidency can be explained: an acknowledged intelligent man with absolutely no executive experience in the absolutely highest executive job in the world.


Obama may be "book smart" but he shows few signs of actual intelligence. For one thing, intelligence requires the ability to learn from your own experience and the experience of others. Obama keeps advocating policies that have failed repeatedly, ergo he shows no ability to learn from experience and isn't intelligent.

He lacked not only executive experience but essentially all real world experience. Did he ever hold a real-world private sector job for more than a short time? He's the most naked of emperors. It still amazes me how so many people either couldn't see it or were willing to ignore it because voting for Obama made them feel better about themselves. Obama may well be the "selfie" president when all is said and done.

Freeman Hunt said...

Obama the boyfriend. It's because he's such a fantastic boyfriend that he's such a lame president.

dwarzel said...

"...and won’t leave the cap off the toothpaste tube."

Well, toothpaste tubes haven't had removable caps in something like thirty years, but remember, it's conservatives who are out of touch...

Mountain Maven said...

Ann your post is a troll

mikee said...

Community organizing was best described in "Mau Mauing the Flack Catchers" by Tom Wolfe.

mikee said...

Community organizing was best described in "Mau Mauing the Flack Catchers" by Tom Wolfe.

grackle said...

But we shouldn’t expect much to actually get done.

Ah, but much of the damage has already gotten "done."

Iran will nuke up. That will get done. A nuke race in the Middle East will ensue. Most likely he'll be out of the Whitehouse by then. Eight years of naïve, feckless negotiations with Iran will no doubt cost us dearly.

The IRS is still slow-going conservative groups. THAT has been done and will continue to "get done" – with impunity, with a casual arrogance and seemingly without an ounce of anxiety about any retribution.

Americans are spied upon by our government more than ever. Our phone calls, our tweets, our emails, our movements, our health info – all are recorded somewhere in perpetuity, temptingly accessible to political operatives and other interested parties.

Obamacare is about to descend upon us – except of course for the anointed few, the political elite. It's not good enough for them – too much of a hardship for the dears. That will "get done."

It was going to be an uphill slog for a president who doesn’t like conflict.

Yikes! But the Prez LOVES conflict as long as it's at home and with the Right; for instance, his speech yesterday was full of highly critical, conflict-provoking rhetoric, words unlikely to garner cooperation or compromise from opponents; one of many such speeches since he first took office.

On the other hand I don't believe the Prez is capable of anything more than a symbolic pinprick overseas, should any conflict arise overseas that might call for military action.

Nowadays our enemies and many of our allies realize that the US is weak and getting weaker, it's leaders subject to ignorantly running off their mouths about red lines that they can't back up, promising symbolic, harmless missile strikes, declaring a foreign policy debacle as a victory, unable to do anything about the murders of American diplomats. Behavior that is either chilling or comical, depending on whether the viewer is friend or foe.

Iran has been working towards this since the day Carter betrayed the Shah. They are skilled negotiators, skilled observers. They have patience. They must realize all they have to do is wait. They must have realized that way back.

jr565 said...

Is this Obama's problem, wanting to please everyone, wanting to give everyone their say?

well certainly Russia Syria Iran and Hezbollah. They were feeling neglected so used a few chemical weapons.
But Obama after saying they'd be punished when dad got home instead took them out and bought them ice cream.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

They listen before making decisions, never insist that it’s their way or the highway, and won’t leave the cap off the toothpaste tube.

Bullshit. They organize part of the community against another part, and their principal weapon is demonization, and their object is to win uncompromisingly. Who'd believe they wouldn't apply the same tactics to their domestic differences?