I thought this was a noteworthy tome for Christmas Eve 2009, below by Daniel Henninger. We have all heard the phrase “What goes up, must come down.” With even more outrageous new allegations of fraud against Obama’s one year old presidency now barreling in on him, i.e Reverend James Manning alleging that Obama never even actually attended Columbia University, the fast moving locomotive of daring, truthful and fearless citizen journalist reporting is now running over the credibility of Obama’s leadership with freight train destructive power. Witnessing all this, it’s no wonder the White House is making not so secret preparations for coming civil unrest and martial law.
DECEMBER 24, 2009, 12:06 A.M. ET
In February 2007, Barack Obama announced he would stand for the presidency of the United States in 2008. One year into that far-from-inevitable presidency, no figure has ever so thoroughly pulled toward himself the nation’s political energy.
“I burst just like a supernova.”
But here’s NASA’s definition of a supernova: It’s a stellar explosion, an incredibly luminous star, able to outshine a whole galaxy . . . before gradually fading from view.
So one may ask after the first year of Obama: Is he a star for the ages, or is he fading fast?
Has any president so engulfed American politics? He is everywhere. He is the first real king of all media. He makes himself the constant conversation, the national siren song. No one can stop listening to him, even if it kills them to hear it.
Daniel Henninger discusses President Obama’s star power.
Nobody says “Barack Obama” anymore. He’s just “Obama.” He is the champ of one-name celebrities. Bono, Beyoncé, Sting, Madonna, Moby, LeBron, Ronaldo, even Oprah—no one’s close. Obama. Oh-BAHH-ma. Ohhhhhbama.
The election itself was part fairy tale, part fight of the century. The incredible primary battle between the rookie from Illinois and Team Clinton was a mesmerizing, six-month thriller.
It is true that his approval rating has fallen fast, though keep in mind that high unemployment brought Ronald Reagan a disapproval rating of 54% in early 1983. Still it remains impossible to view Obama as just another pol. No previous politician or president has sustained such a huge public presence. The Obama machine has hard-wired itself to the 24/7 media machine.
People started to think Obama was speaking to them every day. Why not? He has the best voice in politics since Reagan’s, and Obama hasn’t acted professionally a day in his life.
The whole Obama thing, starting with the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, followed immediately by the book “Dreams from My Father,” was built around a persona, an aura. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote that Obama told him early in his Senate career: “Harry, I have a gift.”
This column has referred previously to a January 2007 New York Times article about Obama at Harvard Law School. It has the best description I have seen of the “gift.” This was 1988 to 1991, one of the most politicized periods in the law school’s history, with divisive fights over ideas such as critical race theory. In the article Prof. Charles Ogletree recalled how the young Obama spoke to a public gathering on one particularly contentious issue, and both sides thought he was endorsing their argument: “Everyone was nodding. Oh, he agrees with me.”
That is the “gift.” What is not clear as we approach the second year of Mr. Obama’s term is whether the gift can produce magic for a presidency.
The American presidency isn’t like anything else in life. What was magic at Harvard or wowed independents in 2008 isn’t necessarily what works in the Oval Office or in a room with Vladimir Putin or Wen Jiabao, who are quite beyond the experience of political awe.
The aspect of the “Obama” phenomenon that disconcerts me most is the sense that Barack Obama himself is at times oblivious of where it has taken him. The first time was his acceptance speech last year in Denver, in which he promised to solve, well, pretty much everything. Grandiosity is de rigueur on that occasion, but this was its antic cousin, grandiloquence.
This week brought a more troubling incident. Harry Reid’s Senate had just secured its 60th vote for Mr. Obama’s health-care reform. Whatever one’s view, its trillion-dollar-plus cost is an agreed given. Days earlier the public saw Congress vote to raise the debt ceiling by almost $290 billion to make room for the needs of the $800 billion stimulus bill, the unprecedented $3.5 trillion budget, and the House’s approval Dec. 16 of a new $154 billion jobs bill. Amid this President Obama said Monday: “We can’t continue to spend . . . as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money.”
From the Wizard of Oz to Tiger Woods, the greatest danger to grand men is feet of clay. There are varieties of clay. For the politician known as Obama it is that if he is shown to be a cynic, he is finished. “Monopoly money” was an everyone-agrees-with-me remark. But to everyone, it was simply fantastic.
The American people took a flyer on Barack Obama. If they conclude Obama is just the name of another lesser god, his fall could come as fast as his rise.
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