Where Next for Obama?
Magic can turn failure into a resume enhancement.
August 29, 2011 - 12:00 am
I was just leafing through a Spider-Man comic book, an ethnographic foray into lowpop and an instructive transit into the more colorful regions of the cultural code. Two pages in, New York City is trembling on the verge of chaos owing to the sudden apparition of the evil sorcerer Baron Mordo, hovering in the sky and about to unleash his wraiths and goblins to wreak devastation, first upon the city and then upon the entire globe. Spidey seeks help from his old friend Doctor Strange, “Earth’s policeman against occult bad guys,” who explains: “Mordo is always seeking for more power” in his quest to destroy the world. Spidey reflects: “More power. But the world is destroyed?” To which Doctor Strange replies: “He’s not a great thinker, but he is a master magician.” The application to the Illusionist-in-Chief is irresistible.
Rush Limbaugh is convinced that Obama is “engineering the decline of the American Republic,” giving us “Obamageddon. Barackalypse Now.” Donald Trump for his part believes that the president is incompetent but not malicious, which does not offer much in the way of consolation. Incompetence is as malicious does. Dinesh D’Souza in The Roots of Obama’s Rage thinks that Obama is taking post-colonial revenge on imperial America. Mark Steyn in After America pegs the president as resembling “a snooty viceregal grandee passing through some tedious outpost,” as if the job were really “too small for him and he’s just killing time until something more commensurate with his stature comes along.” Indeed, “America has no greater purchase on him than Papua or Peru.” Obama sees himself not as an American devoted to his people but as a citizen of the world, a far nobler commitment than merely serving an unexceptional country.
Like many others, I have been studying the Obama phenomenon since he first appeared on the national scene and although I could not initially quite make him out, I knew that he spelled trouble. My suspicions deepened as his candidacy soared and by the time he gave his Denver coronation speech I knew beyond the slightest hesitation that he was as fake as the classical columns he spoke before and as artificial as the teleprompters that accompanied him everywhere. From whatever angle one examined him, the man was unmitigated bad news for a country swept up in a protracted seizure of idolatrous frenzy. The ensuing years only confirmed the fact that, in electing him to the presidency, America had done itself megaharm.
Obama is a man whose essence remains an enigma — he himself writes in The Audacity of Hope that “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” This is why so many articles and books have been written on the president’s origins, ideas, motivation, and character, often arriving at radically different conclusions. At times, he seems humble; at others, arrogant. He proclaims himself as a peace weaver, yet his rhetoric and conduct often express a strong current of choler and resentment. He is regarded by the press and his acolytes as savvy and intellectually nimble, yet his many sophomoric gaffes and goofs (e.g., the “Austrian language,” “corpse-man,” “57 states,” constitutional principles set down “20 centuries ago,” “Mexicans” lived on the land “long before America was even an idea,” “the bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor,” etc.) prove otherwise.
But although the man himself remains something of a conundrum, his formative principles are no longer a mystery. Irrespective of his protean nature, his political identity is fixed, as the roster of his affiliations, sources, mentors, friends, associates, and appointees renders undeniable, and as his executive decisions corroborate. He is a hard-left ideologue and socialist plutocrat who is intent, as he himself vowed, to transform the country into something its Constitution never envisioned it as becoming. As Norman Podhoretz has cogently argued in the Wall Street Journal, Obama is simply “the same anti-American leftist he was before becoming our president.”