National Endowment For Sucking Up

Mr. W. found this depressing address from the new NEA (Arts, not Education) chairman.
Some quote-unquote “journalists” have recently accused this agency of losing its independence and becoming a propaganda machine. While I want to state in no uncertain terms that the NEA is not a political agency and that when art becomes propaganda I lose all interest in it.
Which would be hopeful, except that he also says this:
Which brings me to President Obama, our Optimist in Chief. He is a writer, an artist but we’ll come to that later. His second book had a title that would resonate with Lionel Tiger: “The Audacity of Hope”. This is much more than a felicitous phrase that he found in a sermon: it is the manifesto of this presidency and will lay the groundwork for the most arts-supportive administration since Roosevelt.

Again, optimism presumes positive outcomes, the exigencies of the real world notwithstanding. The Obama campaign, and now the Obama presidency, has always been about aspiration: the idea that our current reality, our circumstances, if you will, need not determine our future.

Which I think he means to be complimentary, although it's rather damning, isn't it? That followed soon by this:

This is the first president that actually writes his own books since Teddy Roosevelt and arguably the first to write them really well since Lincoln. If you accept the premise, and I do, that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, then Barack Obama is the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar.
Mr. W. says if a GOP flack said that, he'd be accused of calling for the President's assassination. Again, it's meant to be complimentary, but Powerline explains why it ain't. And is remarkably stupid as well:

Landesman compares Obama favorably with Julius Caesar as "a powerful writer." Landesman is not referring to Obama's skills as a writer, but rather to the power he holds by virtue of his office. Some might think that the literary comparison sells Obama short. Caesar was something of a self-promoter and propagandist in his writing.

Yet Landesman knows Obama is like Caesar, somehow -- a friend asks, is it in the transformation of a republic into an empire with a divine ruler? Perhaps if Landesman had his wits about him, he would note instead that Obama is the most powerful speaker since the other JC.

Well, so what if Landesman is a bootlicker? Landesman is also an idiot. Lincoln never wrote a book, although I believe he did compile the texts of his 1858 debates with Douglas for publication in book form. And Landesman misses a few presidential authors since Theodore Roosevelt.

Woodrow Wilson wrote several influential books as a Princeton professor. Herbert Hoover wrote books including, I am reliably advised, a classic book on fishing. Richard Nixon wrote books before and after his presidency. And even Bill Clinton wrote his apologia pro vita sua.

Landesman leaves JFK unmentioned by name. JFK was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage in 1957. My guess is that JFK and Obama share the attribute of authorship in roughly equal measure.

Nope, no propaganda here.