Commentary Magazine


What’s Beyond the Illusions?

Dorothy Rabinowitz, in a masterful column, sums up the undoing of Obama, or rather the undoing of  widely held misconceptions about Obama:

Whatever the outcome of today’s election, this much is clear: It will be a long time before Americans ever again decide that the leadership of the nation should go to a legislator of negligible experience—with a voting record, as state and U.S. senator, consisting largely of “present,” and an election platform based on glowing promises of transcendence. A platform vowing, unforgettably, to restore us—a country lost to arrogance and crimes against humanity—to a place of respect in the world. …

Nothing wakened [the electorate's] instincts more than the administration’s insistence on its health-care bill—its whiff of totalitarian will, its secretiveness, its display of cold assurance that the new president’s social agenda trumped everything.

But it was about far more than health-care reform, or joblessness, or the great ideological divide between the president and the rest of the country. It was about an accumulation of facts quietly taken in that told Americans that the man they had sent to the White House had neither the character or the capacity to lead the country.

We’ve had nearly two years to observe his skills and persona. It is becoming increasingly hard to find serious people impressed with the former and enchanted by the latter. He prefers not to concern himself with the details of legislation, the character and values of his fellow citizens, or the demands of an undefined war against our civilization. Even the New York Times has grown weary of his blame-mongering and straw men. The cool kids in the Comedy Central demographic are bored with him.

The favorite guessing game is now “Can Obama shift course?” But Rabinowitz has zeroed in on the central issue. She concludes: “This election has everything to do with the man in the White House about whom Americans have lost their illusions. Illusions matter. Their loss is irrecoverable.” So the real question is: is there more to Obama than the illusions?