Jim Geraghty picks out an interesting passage in Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas. Rewind to 2009. Our young president has won the Nobel Peace Prize without really having done anything to earn it. His presence on this earth was by itself sufficient to win the prize. His peaceful, conciliatory nature (“I won”) would serve as a beacon for all. Mean people like those rascals at the Republican Party of Texas (ok, that was me) mocked him mercilessly for winning the peace prize while conducting two wars. Such bad people, those mockers were. Not nice. Unenlightened, even. We didn’t deserve him. Should I capitalize the “H” in “him”?
Let’s go with the Obamas to Oslo at that glorious moment.
But amid the bad news and pressures of late 2009, the trip unexpectedly passed like a brief, happy fantasy for the president, a Nordic alternate reality where citizens were learned and pensive, discussions were thoughtful, and everyone was a fan. “It wasn’t hero worship,” said one adviser who accompanied them. “Okay, it was.”
For one day, the Obamas lived in the dream version of his presidency instead of the depressing reality. At meals and receptions, they mingled with the members of the Royal Academy – government officials, academics…
The trip spurred a thought the Obamas and their friends would voice to each other again and again as the president’s popularity continued to decline: the American public just did not appreciate their exceptional leader. The president “could get 70 or 80 percent of the vote anywhere but the U.S.” [President Obama’s old friend] Marty Nesbitt told [another old friend of Obama] Eric Whitaker indignantly.”
Emphases added. This may explain why the Obamas have taken 17 major vacations in three years — they’re trying to recapture that shining moment in Oslo. Who can blame them? They’re just trying, in the only way they know how, to be appreciated for what they really are. And for what he really is.
Perhaps, in time, Barack Obama’s one term will be seen as a kind of golden age. Four years in which the earth stood still to bask in the light of its dear Sun President. Unemployment didn’t get any better, and the national financial situation got a whole lot worse, and warfare did not go away.
But he was here among us. We had this exceptional young man to lead our nation’s decline and fall. He presided over our twilight with benevolence and grace. And we failed to love him.
I blame myself. And you. And Bush.