I still haven’t listened to Obama’s inaugural speech; don’t plan to. I’ve mentioned several times before that I don’t like speeches in general, unless they’re by Churchill or Lincoln (I guess Patrick Henry could sneak in there, too).
And Obama’s no Churchill. The funny thing is that he would like us to think he’s a Lincoln, and that many people do think so. These people tend to be (surprise, surprise) liberals and the left—not always exactly the same thing, but close enough for our purposes.
In the commentary on Obama’s address the split is massive, as one would expect when talking about a man who specializes in dividing the American public while talking about uniting it, a neat trick indeed. The right hears his combative, arrogant rhetoric, while the left hears a new assertiveness and confidence, and a determination to avoid struggling to compromise so hard anymore (!) with those intransigent, nasty Republicans.
Why would Obama feel more confident, rather than less, compared to 2008, when his mandate was much greater back then and has diminished since? Because, as was obvious, a second term frees him from the need to be beholden to the electorate. That is his triumph, and it is from whence his renewed confidence [arrogance] comes.
Those of you who are conservative and yet refused to vote for Romney for whatever reason no doubt have your ways of rationalizing that act (or failure to act). I’ve heard them all, and fought against them all, for at least a year. I continue to disagree about as strongly as possible, and it is with an especially heavy heart that I watch Obama begin his second term, thinking that his victory was achieved not only by the support of those who voted for him, but by the indirect support of those who failed to vote against him.
But I am not here to fight that battle any more; what’s done is done, and of course we’ll never know what sort of president Romney would have been (I believe a very good and also quite conservative one; your mileage may certainly differ). We can’t go back, we can only go forward; life’s not an alternate history book.
It puzzles me that so much of what I and many others see in Obama, those personal qualities that alarm us, are seemingly invisible to the vast majority of his admirers. It’s a bit like the ability to detect PTC by its bitter taste. Some have the trait and some don’t:
In 1931, a chemist named Arthur Fox was pouring some powdered PTC into a bottle. When some of the powder accidentally blew into the air, a colleague standing nearby complained that the dust tasted bitter. Fox tasted nothing at all. Curious how they could be tasting the chemical differently, they tasted it again. The results were the same. Fox had his friends and family try the chemical then describe how it tasted. Some people tasted nothing. Some found it intensely bitter, and still others thought it tasted only slightly bitter.
Soon after its discovery, geneticists determined that there is an inherited component that influences how we taste PTC. Today we know that the ability to taste PTC (or not) is conveyed by a single gene that codes for a taste receptor on the tongue. The PTC gene, TAS2R38, was discovered in 2003.
I don’t think the ability to detect bitterness in Obama is a mutation, but it almost seems as cut and dried. To his admirers, Obama’s a nice guy who’s been dealing with some difficult things. To me (and to many of you), in practically his every appearance he seems to radiate signals of narcissism, duplicity, insincerity, power hunger, and sheer nastiness. This has nothing to do with his race, although his supporters like to think that (or at least like to accuse the right of that). It’s funny, but Obama’s blackness is just not his most salient characteristic (or an important characteristic at all) for most on the right. Rather, it’s his personality and his politics.
But it’s actually much more than that. For the first time in my lifetime, anyway, I’ve seen a cult arise for a major political figure in America (that happened a little bit with Kennedy, too, but nothing like with Obama). Not only that, but the figure has been instrumental in personally nourishing and nurturing and encouraging that cult attitude mightily; perhaps that’s the most disturbing thing of all.
Not everyone who voted for Obama buys into the cult aspects, but enough do to make me very very worried about the future of this country, and that’s separate even from Obama’s politics. The adulation surrounding him, especially that of the press, is one of the most troubling aspects of his administration, and bodes ill for our future.