WASHINGTON – Much has been said and written about Barack Obama’s self-absorption.
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to offer up an amateur diagnosis of narcissism in his case.
Everything is about him.
Bill Clinton suffers a similar, lifelong chronic case of egomania and self-centeredness.
But to listen to Barack Obama drone on and on about himself at the funeral of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was almost embarrassing to the point of pity.
Like many people in the age range of Barack Obama and me, Inouye, the late senator from Hawaii, first came to our attention during the Watergate hearings. And, again, for people like Obama, it’s all about him – even at someone else’s funeral.
In his 1,600-word speech, Obama used the word “my” 21 times, “me” 12 times and “I” an incredible 30 times.
“Danny was elected to the U.S. Senate when I was 2 years old,” he began his touching eulogy at the National Cathedral. “Now, even though my mother and grandparents took great pride that they had voted for him, I confess that I wasn’t paying much attention to the United States Senate at the age of 4 or 5 or 6. It wasn’t until I was 11 years old that I recall even learning what a U.S. senator was, or it registering, at least. It was during my summer vacation with my family – my first trip to what those of us in Hawaii call the Mainland.”
(Let me interject here that this is a blatant falsehood. His mother was raising him in Seattle as a single mother days after he was born.)
“So we flew over the ocean, and with my mother and my grandmother and my sister, who at the time was 2, we traveled around the country. It was a big trip. We went to Seattle, and we went to Disneyland – which was most important. We traveled to Kansas where my grandmother’s family was from, and went to Chicago, and went to Yellowstone. And we took Greyhound buses most of the time, and we rented cars, and we would stay at local motels or Howard Johnson’s. And if there was a pool at one of these motels, even if it was just tiny, I would be very excited. And the ice machine was exciting – and the vending machine, I was really excited about that.
“But this is at a time when you didn’t have 600 stations and 24 hours’ worth of cartoons. And so at night, if the TV was on, it was what your parents decided to watch. And my mother that summer would turn on the TV every night during this vacation and watch the Watergate hearings. And I can’t say that I understood everything that was being discussed, but I knew the issues were important. I knew they spoke to some basic way about who we were and who we might be as Americans.
“And so, slowly, during the course of this trip, which lasted about a month, some of this seeped into my head. And the person who fascinated me most was this man of Japanese descent with one arm, speaking in this courtly baritone, full of dignity and grace. And maybe he captivated my attention because my mom explained that this was our senator and that he was upholding what our government was all about. Maybe it was a boyhood fascination with the story of how he had lost his arm in a war. But I think it was more than that.
“Now, here I was, a young boy with a white mom, a black father, raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. And I was beginning to sense how fitting into the world might not be as simple as it might seem. And so to see this man, this senator, this powerful, accomplished person who wasn’t out of central casting when it came to what you’d think a senator might look like at the time, and the way he commanded the respect of an entire nation I think it hinted to me what might be possible in my own life.”
Obama also mentioned the heroic life of Inouye. “And so we remember a man who inspired all of us with his courage, and moved us with his compassion, that inspired us with his integrity, and who taught so many of us – including a young kid growing up in Hawaii –– that America has a place for everyone.
“This was a man who as a teenager stepped up to serve his country even after his fellow Japanese Americans were declared enemy aliens. A man who believed in America even when its government didn’t necessarily believe in him. That meant something to me. It gave me a powerful sense – one that I couldn’t put into words – a powerful sense of hope.”
(It’s worth pointing out that it was one of Obama’s other political heroes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who made the decision to intern those Japanese-Americans. It was a Supreme Court packed by Roosevelt that upheld the internment. And it was President Ronald Reagan, almost 50 years later, who signed legislation in 1988 that offered the first official apology for that wartime act following Japan’s surprise military attack on Hawaii.)
“I think it’s fair to say that Danny Inouye was perhaps my earliest political inspiration.
“And as I watched those hearings, listening to Danny ask all those piercing questions night after night, I learned something else. I learned how our democracy was supposed to work, our government of and by and for the people; that we had a system of government where nobody is above the law, where we have an obligation to hold each other accountable, from the average citizen to the most powerful of leaders, because these things that we stand for, these ideals that we hold dear are bigger than any one person or party or politician.
“And, somehow, nobody communicated that more effectively than Danny Inouye.”
Hello? This is a funeral. Obama’s already been re-elected. What on earth is he campaigning for now?