An erudite article that so accurately identifies, articulates, and projects the demise of Obama the Fraud. Spoiler alert for Liberals...there are lots of big words, historical references and obtuse concepts...
There were no economic or cultural bonds among his
coalition. He was all things to all people. Charisma ruled.
Nov. 14, 2013 6:59 p.m. ET
The Wall Street Journal
The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be
read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper
fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no
pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama's policies—and, more
significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together
and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the
crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an
era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. He glides through crises, he
knits together groups of varied, often clashing, interests. Always there is that
magical moment, and its beauty, as a reference point.
Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Fouad Ajami on why
the President's charisma can't keep his coalition together. Photos: AP
Mr. Obama gave voice to this sentiment in a speech on
Nov. 6 in Dallas: "Sometimes I worry because everybody had such a fun experience
in '08, at least that's how it seemed in retrospect. And, 'yes we can,' and the
slogans and the posters, et cetera, sometimes I worry that people forget change
in this country has always been hard." It's a pity we can't stay in that moment,
says the redeemer: The fault lies in the country itself—everywhere, that is,
except in the magician's performance.
Forgive the personal reference, but from the very
beginning of Mr. Obama's astonishing rise, I felt that I was witnessing
something old and familiar. My advantage owed nothing to any mastery of American
political history. I was guided by my immersion in the political history of the
Arab world and of a life studying Third World societies.
In 2008, seeing the Obama crowds in Portland, Denver
and St. Louis spurred memories of the spectacles that had attended the rise and
fall of Arab political pretenders. I had lived through the era of the Egyptian
leader Gamal Abdul Nasser. He had emerged from a military cabal to become a
demigod, immune to judgment. His followers clung to him even as he led the Arabs
to a catastrophic military defeat in the Six Day War of 1967.
He issued a kind
of apology for his performance. But his reign was never about policies and
performance. It was about political magic.
In trying to grapple with, and write about, the Obama
phenomenon, I found guidance in a book of breathtaking erudition, "Crowds and
Power" (1962) by the Nobel laureate Elias Canetti. Born in Bulgaria in 1905 and
educated in Vienna and Britain, Canetti was unmatched in his understanding of
the passions, and the delusions, of crowds. The crowd is a "mysterious and
universal phenomenon," he writes. It forms where there was nothing before. There
comes a moment when "all who belong to the crowd get rid of their difference and
feel equal." Density gives the illusion of equality, a blessed moment when "no
one is greater or better than another."
But the crowd also has a presentiment of
its own disintegration, a time when those who belong to the crowd "creep back
under their private burdens."
Five years on, we can still recall how the Obama
coalition was formed. There were the African-Americans justifiably proud of one
of their own. There were upper-class white professionals who were drawn to the
candidate's "cool." There were Latinos swayed by the promise of immigration
reform. The white working class in the Rust Belt was the last bloc to embrace
Mr. Obama—he wasn't one of them, but they put their reservations aside during an
economic storm and voted for the redistributive state and its protections. There
were no economic or cultural bonds among this coalition. There was the new
leader, all things to all people.
nemesis awaited the promise of this new presidency: Mr. Obama would turn out to
be among the most polarizing of American leaders. No, it wasn't his race, as Harry Reid would
contend, that stirred up the opposition to him. It was his exalted views of
himself, and his mission. The sharp lines were sharp between those who raised
his banners and those who objected to his policies.
America holds presidential elections, we know. But
Mr. Obama took his victory as a plebiscite on his reading of the American social
contract. A president who constantly reminded his critics that he had won at the
ballot box was bound to deepen the opposition of his critics.
leader who set out to remake the health-care system in the country, a sixth of
the national economy, on a razor-thin majority with no support whatsoever from
the opposition party, misunderstood the nature of democratic politics. An
election victory is the beginning of things, not the culmination. With Air Force
One and the other prerogatives of office come the need for compromise, and for
the disputations of democracy. A president who sought consensus would have never
left his agenda on Capitol Hill in the hands of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
Mr. Obama has shown scant regard for precedent in
American history. To him, and to the coterie around him, his presidency was a
radical discontinuity in American politics. There is no evidence in the record
that Mr. Obama read, with discernment and appreciation, of the ordeal and
struggles of his predecessors. At best there was a willful reading of that
history. Early on, he was Abraham Lincoln resurrected (the new president, who
hailed from Illinois, took the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible). He had been
sworn in during an economic crisis, and thus he was FDR restored to the White
House. He was stylish with two young children, so the Kennedy precedent was on
In the oddest of twists, Mr. Obama claimed that his
foreign policy was in the mold of Dwight Eisenhower's . But Eisenhower knew war
and peace, and the foreign world held him in high regard.
During his first campaign, Mr. Obama had paid tribute
to Ronald Reagan as a "transformational" president and hinted that he aspired to
a presidency of that kind. But the Reagan presidency was about America, and
never about Ronald Reagan. Reagan was never a scold or a narcissist. He stood in
awe of America, and of its capacity for renewal. There was forgiveness in
Reagan, right alongside the belief in the things that mattered about
America—free people charting their own path.
If Barack Obama seems like a man alone, with nervous
Democrats up for re-election next year running for cover, and away from him,
this was the world he made. No advisers of stature can question his policies;
the price of access in the Obama court is quiescence before the leader's will.
The imperial presidency is in full bloom.
There are no stars in the Obama cabinet today, men and women of
independent stature and outlook. It was after a walk on the White House grounds
with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, that Mr. Obama called off the attacks
on the Syrian regime that he had threatened. If he had taken that walk with Henry Kissinger
or George Shultz, one of those skilled statesmen might have explained to him the
consequences of so abject a retreat. But Mr. Obama needs no sage advice, he
rules through political handlers.
Valerie Jarrett, the president's most trusted,
probably most powerful, aide, once said in admiration that Mr. Obama has been
bored his whole life. The implication was that he is above things, a man alone,
and anointed. Perhaps this moment—a presidency coming apart, the incompetent
social engineering of an entire health-care system—will now claim Mr. Obama's
— Mr. Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover
Institution, is the author, most recently, of "The Syrian Rebellion" (Hoover