Obama went well beyond the usual campaign promises and political rhetoric. Complete with a Greek column stage set, he cast himself as a world-historical figure who would transform America. He was the person who would provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless, heal the planet, repair the world, and halt the rise of the oceans. Divisions within our country would end. Wars would cease. America’s image in the world would be restored. Dictators from Havana to Tehran, from Caracas to Pyongyang, would bow to the power of his reason. This time would be different than all the other times. Our country, after all, had never before been graced by anyone quite like Barack Obama.I knew this president was going to be very different the night of the election. I've been around long enough to see more than a few presidential victory speeches, and in every one I could remember the president-elect was surrounded by his family and close campaign aids as he gave his speech.
That, at least, is how the story was sold to us. Who can possibly forget this? Or this? But by now the cult-like chants and the “Yes We Can” refrain, the references to Obama as a “black Jesus” (by campaign staff) and a “sort of God” (by journalists), the comparisons to him as Lincoln (by pundits and historians), are a distant memory. I’m reminded what Michelle Obama said to a reporter as she watched people fawning over him at his swearing-in to the Senate: “Maybe one day he’ll do something to merit all this attention.”
As the economy continues to remain (in Bill Clinton’s words) “dead flat,” as the world ignores our wishes and goes along its merry way, as the president’s approval ratings sink to new lows, and as he continues to question the patriotism of his critics and stoke embers of resentment, it is worth recalling just how much Barack Obama promised to be and just how far he has fallen short of it all.
Obama was different. After being introduced the family walked out, Michelle and the kids waved to crowd, and then left the stage, leaving only Obama to stand before the adoring throng in Grant Park. You just knew we were dealing with a full-blown narcissist who actually believed the hype. It's turned out pretty much as I thought it would.