Batman is one of my favorite superheroes ever. Among his many winning qualities as a comic book character is his spectacular Rogue’s Gallery, featuring personified neuroses and obsessions. The Joker, of course, is the standard-bearer of crazy. His insanity is truly top-notch. However, one of my favorites outside of the Clown Prince of Crime is Jonathan Crane, more commonly known as The Scarecrow. His obsession with fear and what fear is as fascinating as it is entertaining. Fear, Crane argues, is the primary motivator of our actions as humans. It drives us more than anything else.
Passion? The fear of not getting what we truly want.
Happiness? The fear of being sad.
Love? The fear of being alone.
Ambition? The fear of being left behind.
Victory? The fear of losing.
Legacy? The fear of being forgotten.
And this is the fear with which we find the President of the United States of America. Barack Obama is terrified of being forgotten when his time is up. He is scared to death that losing any sort of political battle will tarnish his name. He has a noted interest in having a scandal-free presidency, as was explained by POLITICO back in March:
A lot of this has to do with what Obama aides refer to as a culture clash. The Clintons look for loopholes, they say, while Obama takes a special pride, particularly on transparency issues, in sticking to the letter of the law: a combination of cockiness that he’s right, so why not let everyone see how he got there, as well as a background awareness that any scandal would be a scandal for the first African-American president.
This awareness of his legacy has dated back to his candidacy for president. He wasn’t for the plan that would eventually become the Affordable Care Act until he needed to get to the left of Hillary on the issue. He went into his presidency with a big majority in Congress, and eventually rammed Obamacare through the legislative body. However, it came at a cost – his party suffered massive defeat at the polls in the following midterm election. He wasn’t able to get any massive changes like that again.
He fought some battles over the next couple of years, particularly on the ground of gun control. But he lost there, and at that moment, his entire demeanor changed. He came out guns blazing in a subsequent press conference and trashed the opponents of the bill he championed. It was his first major legislative loss of note, and the mask slipped. We saw the absolute fear that his legacy could be hurt on display.
From that point onward, he realized he could not get the massive legislative change he wanted anymore. Instead, his tactics switched, and lately he’s ramped it up a lot. Regulations, executive orders, and not-treaty treaties all much to show that he accomplished things. This plan helps him on two levels. It makes it appear that he fought for his plans using every weapon available, and it puts the negatives of ending those policies on the next guy. His legacy, he feels, is secure.
His fear of a tarnished legacy has led him to focus more on his presidential library in Chicago than ISIS. He wants the monument to his presidency to be perfect, nevermind the actual outcome of his time in office. His final acts in Congress are little more than cowardice of an actual legislative fight. He is scared of losing, of hurting his image, and so he’ll just sign some executive orders and call it a term. After all, he’s not up for re-election, so let’s just go ahead and piss off the state of Ohio, which is considered by many to be incredibly vital to win the presidential election he doesn’t have to run in again.
Barack Obama is paralyzed by fear and is his actions are motivated by that fear. His presidency is over.