Mr. Cohen, what voice did you hear?
Everyone is talking about Richard Cohen's Obama column:
To a large degree, Obama became president on the strength of his eloquence. To a large degree, that is what has deserted him. He is out of words because he is out of ideas. Consequently, he ought to listen to others. They're not the ones who are popping off. He is.
First of all, I like Mr. Cohen. He is the kind of respectful liberal you can have a cup of coffee with. We may disagree on this or that, but he doesn't call you a racist or homophobe.
My question to Mr. Cohen is simple: what voice were you hearing in 2008 that I didn't hear?
I heard Senator Obama telling people what they wanted to hear – i.e., it's all Bush's fault.
He spoke in mindless generalities such as "hope and change." He said nothing specific.
For example, he promised to close Gitmo but didn't say where he'd send the terrorists.
He was going to make us respected around the world, but we are still waiting for President Obama to put together a meaningful coalition in year 7.
Again, what voice was Mr. Cohen hearing? Did President Obama lose his voice, or was Mr. Cohen hearing what he wanted to hear?
Back in October 2008, the late Professor Fouad Ajami warned us about candidate Obama:
On the face of it, there is nothing overwhelmingly stirring about Sen. Obama. There is a cerebral quality to him, and an air of detachment. He has eloquence, but within bounds. After nearly two years on the trail, the audience can pretty much anticipate and recite his lines. The political genius of the man is that he is a blank slate. The devotees can project onto him what they wish.
It's a shame that more Americans did not read Professor Ajami's column. He was not your typical U.S. political analyst. He was not into the horse race that so much of our politics is about these days.
Professor Ajami was reviewing the Obama candidacy from the perspective of watching campaigns in the Middle East and Latin America. He had seen candidates (like Perón in Argentina) ignite crowds with mindless promises only to watch the disappointment that always follows them.
Like a lot of liberals angry with President Bush, Mr. Cohen bought a ticket on the political equivalent of "The Magical Mystery Tour." It was an exciting ride with lots of great fun along the way. However, the ride is over, and there are a lot of disappointed passengers wondering why they bought the ticket in the first place.
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