The Obama delusion vs. the Obama reality
Back in 2008, hordes of swooning, ululating crowds greeted Barack Obama wherever he went. He represented hope and change. With no resume of any consequence, and a willingness to couch his boilerplate progressive, statist, neo-corporatist ideology in flowery, meaningless language, people were able to see in Obama what they wanted to see. The media certainly saw what they’ve been waiting for, and they translated every leg-tingle into another hour spent working to control the narrative in ways favorable to this new hybrid of a presidential candidate and a messiah.
Now, after four years of what, objectively, can hardly be defined as a successful presidency, the bloom is off the Obama rose for so many Americans. And yet, in the media especially, some are still locked in a permanent swoon:
“I would say he loves people,” he told a gathering at Bloomberg News in New York. “He’s got odd social habits for someone like him. What he really likes is non-transactional relationships, when you and I don’t want anything from each other.” He went on: “He doesn’t like people flattering him.” And on: “He’s got a gift for making people happy.” And on and on: “When he was a young man, he thought he was going to be a writer, I think—he won’t completely admit that. . . . He spends half his life laughing. He’s a very happy, warm person.”
This was written in a Vanity Fair piece for which Michael Lewis was given “unprecedented” access to the president, and the content of which had to be approved by the president’s people. Unsurprisingly, according to Andrew Ferguson, the piece ended up a hagiography. Calling Lewis a “delusionist,” Ferguson points out how easy duped has has proven to be:
This shouldn’t surprise us much either. It must be said that in addition to his tireless industry and gift as a teller of tales, Lewis is often played for a chump by the people he writes about. In the early 1990s, for a book called Pacific Rift, a group of Japanese and American capitalists convinced him of the Japanese economy’s indomitable strength, just as the Japanese economy began its long descent.
In Moneyball a baseball executive convinced Lewis that he had turned the sport into a “social science,” deploying statistics to assemble winning teams as no one had done before. It wasn’t true, as the subsequent failure of the teams showed. It made for a cracking good yarn, though, and a hugely popular book.
In the late 1990s, an entrepreneur named Jim Clark convinced Lewis that American capitalism, thanks to digital technology, was entering an unprecedented era of “pure possibility.” All that the era really was, was a tech bubble, which popped just as Lewis’s book about Clark was published. We could go on.
Many Americans were duped in 2008, but after four years of Obamanomics and ObaMalaise™, there is really no excuse. And yet so many in the media are not only locked into a false image of Obama, they are doing everything they can to convince the rest of us that the image is real.
The real picture of Obama is clearly painted in this short, intense statement by Mark Steyn on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
Heck, even Rush Limbaugh’s parody of Obama’s 9/11 press conference bears more resemblance to reality than the gauzy image that many in the press would like us all to have of Obama.
In the end, the question is simple. Do we want to deal with reality as it is—including the ugly reality that our president is not even close to what many thought he was going to be—or do we want to be numbered among the ranks of the delusionists?