Obama was calling on reinforcement from liberal reviewers with an already
proven formula, his prose and his speeches a kind of Book of Common Prayer for liberals, asking for and getting predictable,
canned responses. He was an interesting guy: the black kid in the popular and
upscale crowd, but an abstraction; suspect to more grounded churchgoing,
plain-folk blacks like Jesse Jackson, and determinedly mainstream in a race
when others like John McCain, Sarah Palin and even Hillary Clinton were unique
almost to the point of strange. Sent rather by Central Casting to play the Sidney
Poitier role as the “first black president,” with Joe Biden as the white-guy
sidekick. He intentionally centrally cast himself that way. He was an odd
choice for a god.
Obama suffers now for our sins. He is the black man white America wanted. But
he is the black man Malcolm X warned about: inauthentic, striving, so proud to
be the “first black man” to do things whites like Joe Biden strive beyond their
means and abilities for, like editing the Harvard Law Review. He was the black man Malcolm wrote about with
unflinching honesty: the captive mind of the white man’s parlor, not the free
man of the field.
It was not likely to last. Rasmussen reports this week that 57 percent of U.S. voters feel Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president, while only 51 percent say Obama is. Democrats are returning home to mother.
The failure is not entirely Obama’s. He is the completed wish of white dreams and projections. The failure is in liberal dreams that have carried Roosevelt, Lincoln and Jack Kennedy beyond their times. “What would Lincoln do?” Doris Kearns Goodwin asks today in The New York Times, echoing the Christian’s call to their messiah: What would Jesus do? (WWJD?)
Roosevelt was not a god that failed. He was not a god. He was the quintessential man of his times, but liberals and their hagiographers have turned him into a quasi-religious figure. It will be mocked at the G-20 and G-8 this week when Summers and Geithner bring it to Canada. America will be seen to be still dangling in the wrong century, lagging behind China, Canada and Germany.
Bill Clinton was right when he said the age of big government was over in January 1996. It put Roosevelt into perspective as man, as mortal genius. In all honesty, Clinton attempted then to find a new role and the phrase “reinvent” came into vogue. Now there is a turning back. But as the G-20 will indicate and China will emphasize, the rest of the world is already moving on.