Monday, July 4, 2022

Lewis Morris: Obama’s Environmental Hypocrisy

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It’s been more than five years since Barack Obama was president, but the Left’s love affair with the self-anointed Chosen One continues. For example, gushing reviews have been rolling in for the new five-part Netflix documentary series, “Our Great National Parks,” for which Obama was both host and executive producer.

The program, which premiered on the streaming service on April 13 as part of Netflix’s celebration of Earth Month, features Obama on-camera and in voiceover narration discussing some of our most spectacular national parks. Along the way, we’re treated to some interesting facts about conservation, science, and biology — but not too many facts. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, the series is well made, but “doesn’t push too hard to be educational” and “has a tendency to over-rely on the cuteness of baby animals, using adorability as a narrative crutch.” It also carries a barely concealed message to vote Democrat to preserve our world’s environment.

“Our Great National Parks” is the latest product of an undisclosed nine-figure deal Netflix made with Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions in 2018. This is not the first Obama production to hit Netflix. In 2020, Higher Ground’s “American Factory” explored the takeover of an Ohio factory by Chinese investors. The film took a notably pro-Chinese view of the situation and predictably won an Oscar that year for Best Documentary Feature. Hollywood leftists are already musing that Obama’s latest doc could earn him an Emmy. Tell us again why people don’t care about entertainment awards shows anymore.

But Obama’s latest venture is about more than just Hollywood hypocrisy; it’s also about his own. As the former president says in the promotional trailer, “The natural world can continue to surprise us, as long as we give it space to thrive.” Translation: just so long as that space doesn’t interfere with Obama’s plans for Obama.

Take, for instance, the ongoing row in Chicago, where construction of the Obama Presidential Center has tied traffic in knots, impeded the quality of life for local residents, and threatened the ecological space in historic Jackson Park. Attempts to stop construction or even alter it have been tossed out of court by judges more interested in rubbing shoulders with the Obamas at the Center’s 2025 grand opening than upholding the law.

Obama has also found a way to bend the rules at his $8.7 million estate in Hawaii. The glorious oceanfront home is lined by a concrete sea wall built decades ago and is now contrary to Hawaii state regulations and attempts to preserve the state’s beaches. Environmentalists maintain that while sea walls and similar retaining structures were once thought useful to protect property, they actually erode the beaches and cause coastal damage. Obama’s Hawaiian neighbors aren’t keen about his plans to keep the sea wall, which he can legally do by purchasing a 55-year easement for a one-time $61,000 fee.

A strict case could be made that Obama isn’t stepping outside the law in Chicago or Hawaii. In both instances the law has favored the former president, and he exploited it accordingly. However, the case is also solid that Obama is a complete hypocrite. Like many leftists, his concern for the environment only goes as far as his personal convenience and comfort will allow.

There’s an interesting aside that may or may not be related to the Obamas’ use of Netflix to promote their leftist propaganda. Just days after the premiere of Obama’s parks documentary, Netflix suffered a cataclysmic stock market shock, closing down 35% in value and losing more than $50 billion off its market capitalization. Shares plunged after the company revealed the loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter and that it expects to lose another 2.5 million in the second.

The stated reason is competition from other streaming services. Netflix once had the streaming universe all to itself, but it’s a very crowded and competitive marketplace now. The streaming premiere of DC’s “The Batman” drew 720,000 viewers in its first day on HBO Max.

Another possibility may be a backlash against Netflix’s woke programming. Data that supports this theory is hard to come by, but we’ve seen plunging audience numbers in recent years for Hollywood films and TV programs that have traditionally allowed coastal elites to preach to and browbeat those of us in flyover country. And so, with more entertainment options comes a greater opportunity to reject leftist indoctrination over the airwaves — and all of us can benefit from that.

All of us, that is, except those who are still hopelessly under the spell of Barack Obama.

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