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The Psychodrama of the Obama Presidency

According to President Obama, America has “gotten a little soft” during the last few decades. That revelation is a relatively new one for Obama, who during the campaign assured us that “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” As Obama hop-scotched around the country, he informed us that “We are the hope of the future – the answer to the cynics who tell us … we cannot remake this world as it should be.” Back then, “what began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored, that will not be deterred, that will ring out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, make this time different than all the rest.” (I’d urge you to take a look at this campaign video and see if you miss the reference to America having gone a “little soft.”)

Let’s see if we can make sense of this, shall we?

When Obama was extremely popular, a kind of celebrity-politician, the American people were lavished with praise, presumably for our profound insight and wisdom when it came to choosing our political leaders. As Michelle Obama put it during the campaign, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

But now that Obama’s approval ratings are collapsing and his policies are deeply unpopular, the American people have “gotten a little soft.” Suddenly, we’re not the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence. Or perhaps what’s happening is we’re seeing another manifestation of the president’s extraordinary self-regard. Because to some of us, it looks all the world as if Obama heaped lavish praise on the American people when they were in his corner, before they had anything tangible to judge him by. But now that they are turning against him and his policies, he’s decided we’re not quite as special as he thought. In fact, he’s decided to blame us for his problems. And why not? After all, the man who has mastered but one skill during his tenure in office – blaming others for his failures – has already pointed an accusatory finger at the Arab Spring, the Japanese tsunami, Europe, ATMs, Wall Street, George W. Bush, the GOP, the Tea Party, and countless others. It was only a matter of time, and not much time, before the American people as a whole would be indicted.

Even now, the president is re-writing the script. The American people have gone from being the greatest generation to mediocrity. Right now, while he’s still trying to reclaim our support in order to win re-election, Obama is restraining himself. So we’ve only “gotten a little soft.” But can you imagine what we’ll be accused of if we dare turn Obama out of office after a single term? Can charges of endemic, widespread racism be far behind? After all, the president has already taken this particular slander out for a trial run [see here:]

It isn’t all that difficult to understand what’s going on here. The more unpopular he becomes, the more the president is being consumed by his grievances, by a sense of victimhood, by his belief that some great cosmic injustice is being perpetrated against him. Nothing can shake Obama’s conviction that he is a world-historical figure worthy of our adoration and allegiance. If he loses that, it is because we are not worthy of him.

The psychological drama of the Obama presidency continues to play itself out. I wonder where it will finally end.

 



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