Friday, January 1, 2010


All the famous political commentators, the pundits, the Krauthammers and the Hansons and the Rubins, keep on writing, keep on predicting, as if the president will now act logically. Now he will respond, in some non-perfunctory way, to events that are not about him and his godhead. He will "cool [favorite] motifs" (like apologizing for American history), transfer Napolitano to some other job, start taking terrorism seriously, in short, grow up, grow in office. A few weeks ago, poor Max Boot at Commentary's Contentions actually praised Obama's "boffo" speech accepting the Nobel Peace prize, calling it a masterpiece and another example of the president growing in office. Two weeks later, Boot was complaining about the administration's "foreign policy incoherence."

They are all trying too hard. Where the future is concerned, I see emotional scenes. Bits of a novel or a movie. It is simple enough, to see a complete, finished man acting in character.

Twenty years of membership in Jeremiah Wright's church mean something about him. His declaring, in the very month he was inaugurated, that returning wounded veterans ought to pay for their own medical care meant something. A man like that doesn't start growing in office at forty-seven.

I see: either the withdrawal of worship -- for he is being criticized, even by his acolytes, it seems -- combined with the true burdens of the presidency will lead to private breakdown; or he'll be caught on tape expressing absolutely outrageous personal truths of a "I don't give a f --- about this country" sort -- although he might be forgiven for that, as he was for his seat in church; or he'll be caught in some sort of personal scandal overwhelming enough to utterly change the terms on which anyone looks at him: the way it is now impossible to watch Tiger Woods play mere golf. This last vision derives from an insight not my own, but the insight struck me and I've mused, let's say.

Wild eyed, I suppose. The pundits lose nothing in keeping their predictions calm and reasonably respectful, albeit still angry and stern, bewildered and sad. They might be proved right, and if not, who will notice? And they are keeping within the conventions of gentlemen's political discourse, keeping their careers safe. The funny thing is, the longer they approach this man as if he's normal, as if he's fully adult, the more professionally frustrated they are going to be by his incoherencies. Maybe they should get out to the movies more.

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