Shelby Steele writes another impressive article about President Obama. In it, he offers the following analysis:
Mr. Obama won the presidency by achieving a symbiotic bond with the American people: He would labor not to show himself, and Americans would labor not to see him. As providence would have it, this was a very effective symbiosis politically. And yet, without self-disclosure on the one hand or cross-examination on the other, Mr. Obama became arguably the least known man ever to step into the American presidency.
Our new race problem—the sophistication of seeing what isn’t there rather than what is—has surprised us with a president who hides his lack of economic understanding behind a drama of scale…Mr. Obama’s economic thinking (or lack thereof) adds up to a kind of rudderless cowboyism combined with wishful thinking. You would think that in the two solid years of daily campaigning leading up to his election this nakedness would have been seen…
I think that Mr. Obama is not just inexperienced; he is also hampered by a distinct inner emptiness—not an emptiness that comes from stupidity or a lack of ability but an emptiness that has been actually nurtured and developed as an adaptation to the political world…
…[H]e has come forward in American politics by emptying himself of strong convictions, by rejecting principled stands as “ideological,” and by promising to deliver us from the “tired” culture-war debates of the past. He aspires to be “post-ideological,” “post-racial” and “post-partisan,” which is to say that he defines himself by a series of “nots”—thus implying that being nothing is better than being something. He tries to make a politics out of emptiness itself.
I think this is very finely put, but I would add the following: I do not believe that Obama’s political emptiness is real. Rather, I think he is quite full—of leftist ideology, that is. This political emptiness was (and still is, although the extent to which he can still manage to pull it off has diminished over time as his actions have begun to speak more loudly than his lofty words) a strategic pose that he adopted in order to get elected. His truer and deeper emptiness is an emotional one which, to paraphrase Steele, has been “nurtured and developed as an adaptation to the world in which he found himself as a child and young adult.” That, perhaps, is the most frightening part of all; I believe he lacks an inner core, and has filled the vacuum with an ideology that he plans to impose on this country if he possibly can, whether we like it or not.
That’s what “yes, we can” was all about.