Commentary Magazine


Obama the Imaginary Leader

During his press conference today, President Obama repeatedly invoked the theme of leadership. “Leaders lead,” he helpfully informed. “Leaders rise to the occasion,” he added. They are willing to make “tough decisions,” to “do the tough things” and to “do the responsible thing.” By the end I was reminded by the line from Emerson: “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”

The reality is that Mr. Obama has provided very nearly the opposite of leadership. He has not only refused to tackle entitlement reform during his presidency; he has attacked those who do, employing dishonest arguments that are at this stage are almost impossible to keep track of.

My seven-year-old son loves to play what he calls “imagination games.” It allows him to pretend to be whatever he wants to be – a superhero, a warrior, a secret agent, and so forth. To see that trait in a young boy is sweet; to see it in president of the United States is somewhat disconcerting. And for a president who inhabits an imaginary world to lecture all the rest of us about his virtues adds to the oddity of the whole thing.

In his inaugural address Mr. Obama said, “the time has come to set aside childish things.”

Amen to that.