June 25, 2024

"To anyone watching closely, it’s been obvious that Obama has been thinking about where he fits in today’s political mêlée and working on his public tone."

"When he joined Biden and Clinton in New York, the trio sat for a podcast interview in which Obama brought an I-can’t-believe-this-stuff-really-needs-to-be-said intonation to his explanations of the complications of the presidency and global affairs. Onstage at Radio City, after catching up with Biden on Air Force One, he took on the role of chief cheerleader.... Obama has felt most comfortable sticking to familiar themes, and though he has met with social-media influencers, he is also likely to appear in plenty of tried-and-true ads and behind lecterns on swing-state campuses.... ... Obama now comes across as having concluded that no radical rethink is necessary for his own conception of political progress or mass movements.... Obama wanted the donors to remember that 'despite having been out of office for a while, I am still the hopey-changey guy.'"

Writes Gabriel Debenedetti, in "What Obama Is Whispering to Biden/The presidents’ plan to save their legacy from Trump" (New York Magazine).

I enjoyed the profusion of diacritical marks on "mêlée." I might have done the accent aigu. But the circumflex! That is downright ornate. I approve.

Here's the Wikipedia article "Melee":
A melee... French: mêlée... or pell-mell is disorganized hand-to-hand combat in battles fought at abnormally close range with little central control once it starts.

Here's a painting from 1855 that depicts a melee that took place in 1632 (killing the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus): 

But of course there's an extended use. To quote the OED "a disagreement or contention; a confused or heated debate among many participants; a throng." I was going to say, don't confuse "melee" with "medley," but the OED goes on to with that extended use and says "A confusion, jumble; a medley, a mixture." That's rather tame. It's hard to think of the King of Sweden going into that 1632 melee, but easy to picture our hopey-changey guy inserting himself into the melee that is the election of 2024.


doctrev said...

Look, melee is a word linked with close combat. No one confuses Obama with someone who can play soccer roughly, never mind a melee.

The fact he still thinks people regard him as the Lightbringer show he's growing into Hillary level delusions. It won't be enough to save Biden, not without discrediting elections (to the extent that hasn't already happened).

RideSpaceMountain said...

"It's hard to think of the King of Sweden going into that 1632 melee, but easy to picture our hopey-changey guy inserting himself into the melee that is the election of 2024."

He never left. What we've witnessed is Obama's 3rd term. He's vying for a 4th, but he is working with a man that "can fuck things up" after all.

Paddy O said...

The difference is now we know his hope really was to make lots of money and change whatever needed changing to keep that good money flowing.

Which isn't unique to him. But like qith church sex scandals it's more egregious because he made so many think he really was offering a better way them turns out to be just the same as the rest.

Kate said...

For a gamer, melee means sword or daggers -- any weapon that requires you to get close. You hit hard, but you get hit in return.

Personally, I see Obama as more of a bow ganker.

Aggie said...

Sure, yeah. As if he was on the outside, whispering advice, plaintively. As opposed to in the center, orbited by the same cast that have somehow percolated into the Biden-sphere, whispering orders. Grey eminence indeed.

Rusty said...

For "saving our legacy" read colecting our graft.

Achilles said...

In the end, this is the real reason why Biden is not being replaced.

Obama hasn’t found a replacement puppet.

John henry said...

What's the difference between a melee and a brouhaha?

And is a Pell mell the same as a pall mall?

John Henry

Rosalyn C. said...

I think your demographic (educated, successful, more centrist politically) is the intended target of DeBenedetti's use of French accents.

Is your demographic, whatever it might be, that big of a group? Are you more likely to cast your vote for Biden if you associate him with Obama's intellectual sophistication and style?

Kevin said...

What a coincidence! First Hillary's article, now Obama's.

Both dropped on the 25th, so the media can talk about them all day on the 26th, to gin up support for Joe on the 27th.

JIM said...

Obama is the architect of "fundamental transformation" of American culture, norms, jurisprudence and (since 1945) world leadership. He should have been impeached for "fast and furious" his gun running scheme that led to the direct death of a Border agent. His AG Holder was found in Contempt of Congress for his refusal to turn over subpoenaed documents. Apparently he was above the law. Steve Bannon was not. Neither was Peter Navarro. Hillary Clinton was (Obama communicated with Hillary over her illegal mail server, including state secrets). ho hum.

Iman said...

0bama? Like that fellow had ANY success he could point to that would hold up to scrutiny.

tim maguire said...

Obama brought an I-can’t-believe-this-stuff-really-needs-to-be-said intonation

He always was an arrogant little pisspot who believed his own hype. A thoroughly pedestrian man with a thoroughly pedestrian intellect. Obama’s only real talent is getting influential people excited about him. Which says far more about how we as a society dole out influence than it does about Obama.

Iman said...

“Personally, I see Obama as more of a bow ganker.”

He’s a crank yanker and a sick puppy, at that.

rhhardin said...

Obama and his son Trevon. Obama from moment zero has always been a piece of shit.

Narr said...

"but the OED goes on to with that extended use" needs correcting.

Scrum, scrimmage, skirmish, and even melee with sword and pistol . . . they don't make Swedish kings like they used to.

Mason G said...

"Obama’s only real talent is getting influential people excited about him."

"I mean, you got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." - FJB

rehajm said...

Not really Obama’s fourth term but his handlers. I like the term cabal others are using. Not to say Obama isn’t valuable now that he’s free to twist arms and look presidential to the base when they desperately need someone on their side to appear presidential.

Josephbleau said...

I ran Pell Mell a few times, and in college, smoked a few Pall Mall without filters.

Michael K said...

I thought Obama was an empty suit as I wrote at the time.

I'd still like to know who was behind his political career. He remains a man of mystery. All these years later, the LA Times still conceals his speech at the farewell party for the middle east professor Khalidi.

Michael K said...

Sorry, omitted the link to the speech story.

Josephbleau said...

I think Obama is coming out now to try to cover Beiden with his blessing to create good debate feelings of love. He can turn in a heartbeat if Joe blows it, and even trot out Michelle (which I predict won't happen), so this one thing does not prove anything else will occur.

Obama did this to quash the observation that he thinks Beiden sucks, hoping that will keep Democriticisim of Beiden's debate performance suppressed or Sub Rosa.

Eva Marie said...

Wouldn’t it be sweet if President Obama would take President Biden’s hand and escort him to the debate stage?

Jamie said...

"Obama brought an I-can’t-believe-this-stuff-really-needs-to-be-said intonation"

He always was an arrogant little pisspot who believed his own hype.

At that DNC where he gave The Speech, I was impressed with his story (though I exclaimed to my husband that it was a Republican story and what was he doing with the Democrats) and his delivery, which sounded straightforward and heartfelt.

That was the last time.

Someone - or possibly simply his own "personal growth," for which you can read "ego" - took hold of him and turned him into a patronizing jerk. The columns. The chin-lift. The Working Class In the Mist stories - their God and their guns, for God's sake - who wrote that line and was s/h/xhe fired for it?

I'm OF the class who apparently bought his bill of goods. I was born into it - not the money (I'm two generations removed from that) but the education and, aside from our being Catholic, the social circle. But they think they're swimming in Viognier or something and it's just piss.

narciso said...

Its rather striking how empty suit he is even 20 years after his dark doings were revealed

tcrosse said...

I agree with Michael K that Obama is an empty suit, a slick front-man for the Grey Eminence who continue to run things from behind the curtain. He no more runs things behind Biden than he ran things from the Administration he fronted.

n.n said...

A melee in a milieu.

tcrosse said...

A melee in a melanin milieu.

n.n said...

A melee in a melanin milieu.


Narayanan said...

I'd still like to know who was behind his political career. Does this help?

chickelit said...

Achilles said...
In the end, this is the real reason why Biden is not being replaced.

Obama hasn’t found a replacement puppet.

Harris is the obvious replacement puppet. But she's wholly unelectable on her own. The reason Joe hasn't stepped down is because Harris would take over and then lose in November. If she makes it with Joe, she'll get a full four years (less what Biden chooses to actually serve of his second term).

Narayanan said...

All these years later, the LA Times still conceals his speech at the farewell party for the middle east professor Khalidi.
more remarkable is can any of the attendees be interviewed? quoted?

if nobody came to listen - did he even speak! even as tree was falling in forest

John said...

Narayanan said...
I'd still like to know who was behind his political career. Does this help?

Interesting read, Narayanan. Thank you

wendybar said...

The asshole hopey changeyed us into the communist shithole we are today. HE did this to us. I blame the half black idiot who hates his white side, and praises the black father who abandoned him.

wendybar said...

Thanks for the article Narayanan!!

Angelo M. Codevilla was one of my favorites! I miss him as much as I miss Andrew Breitbart. We need more like them!!

john mosby said...

The Swedish heavy metal military history band (I know, right?) Sabaton has a concept album, Carolus Rex, that chronicles the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire, starting with Gustavus Adolphus. They recorded English and Swedish versions. The English lyrics are kind of Spinal Tap-y (they mention the Thirty Years War with the lyric “ten years gone by, twenty more to go” as if it were on a timetable), but still educational and fun:



imTay said...


Hmmm. 'M' '[Option]-I, e' 'l' '[Option]-e, e' 'e'

Too much work.

Rusty said...

Iman said...
"0bama? Like that fellow had ANY success he could point to that would hold up to scrutiny."
You're kidding of course. He sucessfully put this country on the ruinous path it is on today. He sucessfully divided our country and has nearly made our constitution irrelevant.

Narr said...

I was wondering if someone would mention Sabaton.

Non-violent war crimes, with 'music.'

If they just crapped on Swedish history it wouldn't be so bad, but they don't.

Jay963 said...

Any talk of Biden replacement has to deal with the RFK Jr candidacy.
How do they exclude him without looking like cheaters and back room secret deal makers.
They were able to make Bernie a deal he couldn’t refuse.
RFK Jr looks like he’s made of sterner stuff.

john mosby said...

Narr, man, you’re harshing my mellow!

Shouldn’t we encourage anything that gets the kids interested in history?

Especially in Sweden. I’m sure all this stuff has been taken out of their curriculum so they can teach Ahmad and Fatima all about the Seljuks and Al-Andalus.

(Although a nice balanced history of the Corsairs, or the Norman adventures in the Med, could get both little Tariq and little Bjorn interested….)

What, other than simplifying for song length, do you see as Sabaton’s dumping on history?


Craig Howard said...

mêler - to mix

Mêlez les ingrédients - Mix the ingrédients.

Elle est tout mêlée - She’s all mixed up.

mikee said...

The king of Sweden did not choose to "enter" a melee, the painting is a lie. In a cavalry charge he died from cannon shot or gunfire by the opposing forces.

"Towards 1:00 pm, Gustavus Adolphus was himself killed while leading a cavalry charge on this [left] wing. In the thick mix of gun smoke and fog covering the field, he was separated from his fellow riders and killed by several shots. His fate remained unknown for some time. However, when the gunnery paused and the smoke cleared, his horse was spotted between the two lines, Gustavus himself not on it and nowhere to be seen. His disappearance stopped the initiative of the hitherto successful Swedish right wing, while a search was conducted. His partly stripped body was found an hour or two later, and was secretly evacuated from the field."

His was a death not nearly as heroic as a swarm of horsemen battling each other as individuals in a melee. But cannon fire and gunshots were like that then, and are still like that today.


mikee said...

Other sources suggest the king was killed while "separated" from his forces as he rode as fast as possible away and hid behind some buildings, far from the shooting and cutting and spearing and other nastiness. But not quite far enough away to get shot himself. Kinging comes with high prices, and one of those is that you are a great target for people with long range weapons.

Narr said...

I just dislike the Sabaton brand--bad videos with worse music, and the "isn't it awful, all this terribly cinematic violence?" vibe.

I mean, what did the soldiers of the past do to deserve Sabaton?

As to who is their audience, and who could learn anything from it . . . jsm has a more generous spirit than I do.

PM said...

Obama 'coming up the hard way'. At Punahou, no less.
He could give a shit about Joe. But he's gotta feed his ego.
Why not take a break from Lanikai and driving golf balls at the Mokes?

john mosby said...

Narr - I never watched their videos, so I am right now in their Youtube channel.

I watched the one for Richtofen (from the Great War concept album!) and was moved to happy tears.

Just the baroque synth intro alone would be a fitting tribute to the Baron. As an eager early adopter of technology, he would certainly agree!

That settles it: I am going to write to them and ask for a John Mosby song!

“Grey Ghost, they could not find you, but you really made them mind you/ Trap the general in his bed, drive Lincoln out of his head/ We named Route 50 after youuuuuu….”

And use an electric banjo and mandolin for metal Ken Burns background music!

I just think Sabaton mix the serious and the silly the way real soldiers do. I also like how they sing about all sides of all conflicts, to show the universality of the soldier’s experience.

Kicking myself for missing their concert when they came through here.


Narr said...

I was blissfully unaware that Sabaton existed until about two years ago, when Youtube pushed one of their videos at me.

Haven't seen the Red Baron one; good luck with yours.

De gustibus and all that.