Fw: A great NY Times article....right on the money.

Subject: Fw: A great NY Times article....right on the money.
 Subject: A great NY Times article....right on the money.
From America’s leading liberal publication!
When the Obama Magic Died
By Fouad Ajami - November 16, 2013
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.
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.
A 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.
A 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 offer.
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 attention.
Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at the Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.


gruaud said...

Again, no.

Ajami writes for the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial section is, and I'm being polite here, batshit extremist. This never apperared in the NYT (not that the NYT editorial page is free of ass-hattery -- after all, they saw fit to give Brooks, Friedman, Douthat, and Dowd jobs and they are all pretty terrible).

So right off the bat, these assertions are opinion, wishful thinking, and outright bullshit.

And the Hoover Institute is a RW think tank; and, so, just a part of the RW echo-chamber problem. Many of the Republican ideas and policies that have put this nation and its people into decline can be traced to it.

Anonymous said...

This person is a paid intellectual?

No evidence of anything is provided here, just a bunch of hurt feelings. At least most right wing forwards take the effort to make up some bullshit fact or quote to be mad about.

ferschitz said...

Number 1: a LIE about where this "typing" was published - check

Number 2: calling the NYT "America's leading liberal publication" when the NYT is not liberal at all anymore (if it ever was) - check

Number 3: "typing" done by highly compensated rightwing gravy train recipient from a rightwing think tank - check

Number 4: WSJ, which used to have some limited value as a business reporting news paper, is now owned by Rupert Murdoch, who quickly turned this "typing" into bullshit, hype, spin, crap & all sorts of lying rightwing nonsense, much like his Fox Noise tv outlet - check

Number 5: slow news day as this was allegedly published almost 2 months ago - check

Number 6: typical whining about Obama with no real substance, facts or suggestions for how things can be made better. In other words yet more rightwing victimization over the terrible N-word in the White House - check

Hooray4US said...

I wonder why the Hoover Institute felt the need to lie about this drivel being published in the NYT? It's like conservative think tanks lie for no reason at all, or just because they know that they can get away with it.

Why not admit where this was published? The conservatives who read this won't get any more riled up by thinking it was published in the NYT... or does faking that this was published in "America's leading liberal publication" somehow lend this drek more credibility? And if so, why?

gruaud said...

Oh, that's an easy one.

If you can paint the now right-of-center (but still moderate in ideology) New York Times as the leading liberal publication, then you've moved the Overton Window to the extreme right by another couple of clicks.

It's why a moderate-rightwing Democrat like Obama is the worst socialist in history. The think-tanks know it's not true, they're just trying to shift Overton's Window to their side.

And if they're found out, they'll just ignore the light shining on them and attack some other moderate right-of-center institution and do it all over again.

They are REALLY persistent, although even the Koch brothers must realize that they're running out of time.

Not that they care.

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