Obama: The Exquisite Blessing of Impossible Expectations
It's the bane of demagogues. Or near-demagogues. Or those who raise up imperfect men to be demagogues. It's called "expectations," impossible expectations. And impossible expectations are what are dooming Barack Obama. That and terrible policies. Call it a double-whammy.
Providence is the enemy of pretenders, and hubris is the end for all demagogues. Barack Obama -- the mainstream media-invented Sun King -- comes closer to eclipse with each passing day. A stagnant economy, on the verge of getting worse under Mr. Obama's tutelage, will be the boot on the president's rear on Election Day.
Unless Mr. Obama quits the race for reelection first. Don't discount the possibility of Mr. Obama pulling up stakes. A demagogue like Mr. Obama lacks depth -- a depth of character that drive men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan through tough times and failures. A demagogue is typically convinced that the force of his personality, his eloquence, and his charm are more than sufficient to carry the day. When all those things fail, the demagogue can become a mighty discouraged creature.
Mr. Obama will exit the White House with greater ignominy than Jimmy Carter -- or any past failed president, with the possible exception of the feckless James Buchanan, who helped foster the circumstances for the Civil War.
So why will Mr. Obama be held in such low esteem compared to other failed presidents?
Take a look at his predecessors. Jimmy Carter wasn't cheeky enough to pose as a savior. Carter wanted to be an everyman in his cardigan sweaters and with his peanut farmer veneer. Herbert Hoover was an engineer, a fixer. Hoover didn't fix the economy, but Hoover never posed as a great national healer, a bridge that would reconcile a fractious people. Hoover wasn't billed as the synthesis of disparate ideas and ideologies.
History, if it's written in the future by sober men and women, will be especially unkind to Barack Obama. Phoniness and posturing have ways of not traveling well. With the passing years, mountebanks are revealed for who they are.
Look at the homage paid to Juan Perón, a demagogue cut from the fascist cloth. Perón promised Argentines deliverance. Instead, Argentines got repression and corruption. There were, to be sure, big rallies and pageantry and passionate speeches by Perón. Argentineans for a time were uplifted. But Perón, like all demagogues, was, as Texans say, "all hat and no cattle."
The Obama approach to demagoguing pales when compared to the demagoguery of a Latin American caudillo like Perón. American society -- as presently constituted -- isn't going to buy all the bluster and showmanship that have gone with the Latin style. Fidel Castro would still be laughed off stages across America (okay, we'll make exceptions for Berkeley, Cambridge, and some others).
Mr. Obama can mark this accomplishment: for a while, anyway, his subtler, smoother demagoguery captured the imaginations of millions of Americans. Mr. Obama's golden-boy persona, his lofty rhetoric, and those faux Greek columns suckered people. Mr. Obama's old Coke commercial ploy -- "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony" -- elected him president. Should the slick Obama appeal be a worrisome harbinger for the nation's future? Are newer generations of Americans going to seek salvation through political leaders rather than through God Almighty and their own resources?
Herein lies the exquisite blessing of impossible expectations. The demagogue must oversell himself to win a following. He must overpromise what he can deliver -- and it's not just bigger tax cuts and fatter welfare checks. The demagogue is about offering newer, better lives for his followers. There must be the promise of something transformational for the demagogue to close the deal with people.
The trouble for the demagogue is that his promises run smack into reality. The sun may have shone gloriously on Barack Obama at noon on January 20, 2009, but rainy days have followed. They always do. Life, sadly for many, isn't virtual -- it isn't a computer-manipulated creation that bends to their wills. All those Obama voters who thought that Mr. Obama was Moses leading them to the Promised Land discovered that the president can't even get the official unemployment rate below 9.1% and has a historic problem with Uncle Sam's credit cards.
Mr. Obama couldn't make the lion and the lamb -- the Democrats and Republicans -- sit down together to make nice in perpetuity. There has been no Obama-inspired grand reconciliation between conservatism and liberalism. Obama supporters, like many of us, rise early in the morning, get complaining kids off to school, go to jobs they might not like to face bosses they can live without, struggle to pay their bills, and wonder how they could ever sell their houses for a lot less than what they owe on them.
Mr. Obama has failed stupendously in saving Americans from life. This is quite deflating for those who thought that the forty-hour work week and credit card balances would suddenly vanish upon Mr. Obama's striding into the White House. Those of us with any religious faith know that God never promised Heaven on earth; He'll sustain us through life's many challenges and problems, and He'll succor us through our disappointments and hurts. But God doesn't offer free passes through life. So if God doesn't offer free passes, why believe that Barack Obama can ("Yes, we can!")? Or any politician, all of whom are no more or less human than the rest of us?
Voters' Obama endorphin high has long run its course. It's Obama voters' cold, gray morning of bad breath and tepid coffee with the man who was supposed to be the amazing love of their lives. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, "human is as human does."
Thank God for the failsafe of impossible expectations.