Commentary Magazine


It’s All Gone

The radiant charm; the verbal agility; the promise of change; the post-racial unity; the deferential press; and most importantly, the vagueness of character and intent that sustained the whole façade. These were the hallmarks of Barack Obama’s run for the Democratic nomination, and bit-by-bit, associate-by-associate, gaffe-by-gaffe, the junior senator from Illinois has given all of it back. The extraordinary bounty that had made his campaign a nearly unstoppable force of nature is gone.

With last Sunday’s revelation—that he looks at smalltown America and finds armed, hate-filled, irredentist religious zealots—the last piece of the Obama puzzle fell into place. He is not, it turns out, an agent of change; he is a walking checklist of modern liberal inanities. Big government: check. Crippling taxes: check. Arrogance: check. Identity divisiveness: check. Moral superiority: check. Softness on enemies: check. Shakiness on Israel: check. Questionable patriotism: check.

Half a year ago, the formula for a serious journalistic portrait of Barack Obama was as follows: one extra long cosmetic description, one detailed childhood recap, some praise for his efforts as a memoirist, and a closing discussion of a nation poised for change. No one knew enough about the man’s politics to delve further. However, in the course of a few months he has created a resume of mistakes that’s left the content of those early articles looking as relevant as the lines on a printer test. Today’s Obama portrait is of a man embattled, a candidate whose repeatedly faulty judgment demands explanation.

Yet, the math is the math is the math, and as we know the superdelegates are his to lose. While they may now realize they’ve thrown in their lot with the dazzling candidate from a few months ago, turning their backs on the candidate who can’t stop fumbling today could cause a scandal—one perhaps even bigger than the scandals repeatedly served up by Hillary and Obama. However, it’s a scandal the party leadership may decide to weather, because the man who has at last filled out the empty suit has turned out to be very very beatable.