Roger Kimball on “Capgras Syndrome“:
Notwithstanding Inauguration Fever, there are signs of unhappiness in Obamaland. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is just about to begin her tenure as the first-ever female head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is deeply distressed by Obama’s pick of Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, to head the FBI [Oops: wrong acronym: as a reader points out it was Obama picked to head the CIA: “FBI, CIA, ONI. We’re all in the same alphabet soup.” –The Professor in North by NorthWest]. “I wasn’t even consulted,” sniffed Feinstein, dabbing her eyes (I paraphrase). And Obama’s choice of the Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inaugural sent poor Frank Rich into orbit. Reaching for his most opprobrious epithet, Mr. Rich warned that he discerned “a faint tinge of Bush” creeping into the otherwise immaculate reverie that was his image of Barack Obama. Any moment now, I expect an outbreak of Capgras Syndrome to cascade through the ranks of the faithful.
Capgras Syndrome? That’s the delusion, named for the French shrink Jean Marie Joseph Capgras, that “a close relative or friend has been replaced by an impostor, an exact double, despite recognition of familiarity in appearance and behavior.”
And once the Beatles records are played backwards, who will be revealed as the new Billy Shears, or Billy Campbell, or whoever it was who was supposed to have taken Paul McCartney’s place?
As Obama is having lunch today, he might look across the table and ponder this presidential cautionary tale:
Once there was a president who campaigned on hope and change after a period of disillusionment, division, and economic downturn. He was a virtual unknown when the campaign began, a long-shot dark-horse with a brief record in public office, criticized by party-elders for having the self-assurance to believe that he should be president instead of waiting his turn. But people across the political spectrum responded to the candidate’s calm candor and thoughtful intelligence–they saw in him a different kind of politician who could heal old divides and make them believe in our democracy again. Armed with a disciplined campaign, he pulled off what Time called “something of a political miracle.” Before inauguration day, over 60 percent of Americans believed he would make a good or great president. By March, proposing a far-sighted energy bill and an economic stimulus plan that balanced job-creation with targeted tax-cuts, his approval ratings reached 72 percent. Things fell apart from there. […]
As former Carter speechwriter James Fallows wrote in 1979, “The central idea of the Carter Administration is Jimmy Carter himself… Hubert Humphrey might have carried out Lyndon Johnson’s domestic policies. Gerald Ford, the foreign policies of Richard Nixon. But no one could carry out the Carter Program because Carter has resisted providing the overall guidelines that might explain what his program is.”
Behold, the will.i.am of the 1970s: