I won’t fuck us over, I’m Mr. November
–“Mr. November,” The National
I’ll sum this up at the start: Obama’s not nearly as cool as he thinks he is.
That’s his problem. That’s why he’s smooth on the outside, and ineffective as a leader. He’s perfected the art of looking good, talking big, and doing little. He is, after all, a politician. That’s what they do. And who can blame the guy? We’ve built him up to believe he’s the greatest thing since Steve Perry.
I come here not to sling arrows or arbitrarily pick at a person in power, but to get to the heart of our country’s love/hate relationship with our fearless leader. I truly think Obama is a good guy, a smart guy, a capable guy. He’s just not what he promised, not what you thought he was.
In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan penned an abnormally interesting and balanced piece on Obama’s steady return to our good graces. She predicts a heroic performance at next week’s State of the Union address, as do I.
But don’t you remember that kid at your high school who was a nerd, through and through, but smoked a little pot and maybe had a moderately wealthy father and therefore a swimming pool? We let that kid think he was cool, think he was smarter than he is, because we wanted something from him.
The same is true with Obama.
We wanted his Hope; oh boy, do we American folk need Hope, especially after the last guy. But did we really choose Hope, or did we choose Not McCain? Everything is relative. Obama was better than Hilary too, which is how he earned the right to run against a creaky ancient robot. Like Al Gore, this whole tamale was his to lose. Unlike Al Gore, he won.
I know my place in the world. I have overarching self-awareness. I combat my blustery self-promotion with achingly self-deprecating humor. I use too many adjectives. I’m a mediocre blogger. I’m not president, yet.
Obama’s almost always impossibly smug, acting as if he’s just done something great, even if he’s actually just unwittingly crippled the economic future of our children with audacious and impossible-to-implement entitlements. I’ve been flabbergasted since the Democratic primaries; how can he fool so many people when it’s so clear to me and a very non-vocal minority that he’s putting us on?
His partisan rhetoric may be the most divisive ever uttered by a serving President (to be fair, he’s getting wiser and toning it down). When he’s unscripted, he employs rampant vocal pauses and a less-than-imposing presence. The American people wanted a feel-good story as they trudged through the darkest days of our social and economic history. They ate up their popcorn, and ate up Mr. November’s empty theatrics.
We liberal-minded Obama doubters were scared to say anything back in 2008. Can you blame us? Anytime I opened my mouth to politely question the experience, intelligence, or plastic charisma of Obama, a roving band of silent bumper-sticker-laden killer Priuses would pounce on me like angry thugs. Normally intelligent, thoughtful friends would yell, or simply stop talking to me. There was no dialogue. Accept the Messiah, or go back your anti-abortion protest, you oil-swilling racist dolphin killer.
I’ve always had a hard time putting a finger on what’s wrong with Obama. Maybe nothing’s wrong with the guy; it’s just a case of lofty expectations preceding inevitable disappointment. I still have a hard time believing people really swallowed all the populist platitudes he fed us back in 2008. But now that even Jon Stewart has taken to regularly lambasting the man he once regarded as a deity, I think it’s safe to proffer my ineffectual comments in this well-regarded and little-read forum.
No president can be fairly judged, period. They deal with complex issues on a global scale, and oversee dynamic teams filled with geniuses and morons.
Obama’s challenges are not unique, and his position isn’t an envious one. But he needs to demonstrate progress toward fulfilling his promises to unite, to inspire, to change. Like most before him, he hasn’t come close; he zealously oversold a weakened populace at its most gullible moment.
And for that, he’ll never be cool.