In “The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House”, Edward Klein assembles a character study of Barack Obama’s driving ambition, narcissism and oratorical skills that make him a formidable campaigner, but an arrogant and clueless leader who is unqualified for and disinterested in actual governance.
Published in 2012, Klein skillfully and damningly details a compelling picture of a man who took the nation by storm but who has both an astounding and disturbing absence of any real qualifications, and who, in reality, is ill-suited by temperament for the job of President of the United States. Here is a President, writes Klein, whose messianic vision of himself is jealously protected away from public view. The exception to this is, of course, his own circle of almost cult-like sycophants led by White House protector and confidant, Valerie Jarrett.
Through Klein’s painstaking interviews of those who “knew Obama when”, we learn the history of a young man so absolutely certain of his own destiny that he crafts his own, self-promoting autobiography by the age of 30. Without humility or self-reflection, Obama climbs the ladder of political success by ruthlessly using and discarding all who help him, including: Chicago’s black churches, his own pastor, influential public figures like Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Jackson, the Kennedys, and virtually anyone who took a chance in supporting him in his early climb to prominence.
Klein argues that the center of Barack Obama’s character is an overweening vanity that makes him “totally unsuited” to be President. The author paints a detailed portrait of a thin-skinned but driven loner and ideologue who is closed to all except his wife – a far more mercurial and dominating figure than commonly believed — and a small cabal of worshipers who compare him to Jesus. He trusts no one, and is contemptuous and dismissive of virtually anyone who remains unconvinced of his importance to history, and his intellectual and moral superiority.
“Narcissistic grandiosity” is at Barack Obama’s core, writes Klein, and it is his “extreme haughtiness and excessive pride; his ideological bent as a far left corporatist” that dooms Obama’s presidency to “astounding amateurism”. But his belief in himself and his historic bid to be the first African-American President are enough to seduce and recruit the elite liberal media who hail Obama as the nation’s “savior”. This is, according to the author at least, a divine interpretation of Barack Obama’s role in history that is believed by himself and his circle of protectors.
This book is infuriating proof to all those who have watched with growing alarm a President who refuses to take advice regarding foreign or domestic policy, has never pivoted from divisive campaigning to governing, and who has, through his amateurism, damaged the reputation of his nation as well as divided his own people at home. This book shows, in painstaking detail, that this contemptuous and arrogant man believes in neither God nor man but only his own infallibly.
Original CBC book review by Ken Hoagland.
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