Barack Obama = Andrew Jackson (or Chairman Mao)

by Larry Tate on January 19, 2009

Over at Balkinization, Mark Graber argues that Barack Obama is the reincarnation of Andrew Jackson.

Indian killer. Land jobber. Slave owner. Hot-headed habitual duelist. Supreme Court defier. Why, he’s the very picture of Obama!

Good idea Mark.

You’ll find, however, that Graber really isn’t interested in drawing any historical analogies between these two presidents. In fact, the only reason Andrew Jackson appears in the title of the post is that his inauguration story forms a launching pad for Graber’s anti-populist screed:

Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in 1829 turned into a drunken revelry. 20,000 admirers stormed the White House, destroying furniture and carpets in a desperate effort to greet the new President. Order was restored only when an intrepid member of Jackson’s coterie arranged for free whisky [sic] on the White House lawn. Traditional Washingtonians were horrified by what they saw. Margaret Bayard Smith, a prominent Washington socialite, complained that “the Majesty of the People had disappeared,” replaced by “a rabble, a mob, of boys, negros, women, children, scrambling, fighting, romping.” Looking at the debris and carnage, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story and Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts concluded that the old order was dead. “The reign of King Mob,” Story wrote, “seemed triumphant.” Webster correctly observed at Jackson’s inaugural that the President’s supporters thought “that the country is rescued from some dreadful danger.”

Negroes in the White House! An unwashed mob of hicks have seized the reins of power from “traditional” Washington! The majesty is gone! All gone, I say!

Boo-hoo.

But what does this have to do with Obama? Graber elaborates:

The Whig in me has similar fears about the Obama inauguration. On the one hand, I suspect we are unlikely to witness drunken revelers ruining the White House, although the clean-up is likely to be expensive. Moreover, Obama is many ways is about as much of a Whig as one can hope for in turn of the twenty-first century politics. On the other hand, the inauguration has been more about celebrity than statesmanship. Pictures of Obama that I saw yesterday cycling through Georgetown seemed more appropriate for Mao’s China than a constitutional democracy. [. . .] Perhaps a day of populist revelry is the price progressives must pay for living in a constitutional democracy, but the signs are worrisome. [Emphasis mine]

It’s like the blog version of Caddyshack II: Graber is the elitist Robert Stack who rages and fumes when Jackie Mason takes over the country club and turns it into an amusement park for proles.

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