Obama rose to prominence and eventually the presidency on the basis of a platitudinous and dishonest speech given at the 2004 Democratic political convention whereupon he, to a joyous reception, declared old America was dead and a new, multicultural but united America had risen in its place. Rapturous Democrats believed against all reason.
Once in office, he forgot all about unity and, as he saw what he could get away with, gradually turned up the demagogy, leaving us with the nightmare of Black Lives Matter and a nation more divided than ever. If Obama’s presidency sought “unity” to call it a failure wouldn’t be fair–it’s more like a con.
The other misconception regarding Obama was the assumption of ability. A sort of premium is added to black achievement. Individually whites eager to prove their anti-racist bona fides gush over the barest signs of brilliance. Organizations needing to avoid discrimination litigation promote second-rate black talent ahead of its worth. It’s become a running joke. Neil DeGrasse Tyson becomes “Black Science Man” and Barack Obama’s hand-job of a speech becomes “transcendent”.
It’s otherwise reasonable to assume anyone who reaches the presidency is a high-achieving, high-energy sort, because of what it takes to get there. Barack Obama was propelled to the presidency by forces largely beyond his control (but certainly not his approval). His predecessor was carried along by the institutional corruption of the Republican Party. He was carried along by the cultural corruption of the Democratic Party. Both have demonstrated a successful presidency doesn’t depend on competence or energy, but on a compliant media and political parties. Either administration can be seen as very successful politically and very bad overall for the nation, each in its own way.
The individual Obama acolyte is never going to think this. They assume that outside the office he’s still this powerful intellect and force, whose motivations and reasons we mortals can only dimly sense.
Those institutions are not capable of withstanding these assaults much longer without cracking. The people in the country know this, or, at the very least, except for the 35 percent who are the real cargo-cultists out there, they sense it deeply in their bones. They feel the deepening acceleration of the spiral. The Democratic Party doesn’t have the power to lead and the Republican Party doesn’t have the will and, even at its best, the media is overmatched by the sheer magnitude of bullshit this administration shovels out as a matter of course every hour of every day. This is absolutely no time for the most eloquent voices in society to be on the bench.
So why, sir? Why in the hell are you out there giving speeches to motherfcking bankers in motherfcking Brazil? As the NYT reports
Because, like the man said, that’s where the money is. Such questions!
Obama’s post-presidency resembles the social media campaign of a recently spurned lover determined to show how happy and fabulous his life is: here’s a photo of me hang-gliding! Here I am hanging out with a billionaire!
An occasional tweet has been the near-full extent of his opposition to Trump, when his supporters seemed to think he would destroy the monster with a few laser-like words.
Until then, they’ll always have memories, and pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. No White House photographer has been such an integral part of an administration:
…a new $50 coffee table book by former White House photographer Pete Souza, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, is selling so fast the publisher can’t keep up.
“That shows the immediate nostalgia that we have for Barack Obama, given the dramatic contrast between him and his successor,” Updegrove said.