The Inauguration Of Obamamandias

Today is a great day…to be a liberal, to be a Democrat, and to be naive. Barack Obama is one of the least accomplished men, perhaps even the least accomplished man ever to become President of the United States. He did nothing of note as a community organizer, nothing of note in the Illinois State Senate, nothing of note in the Senate, and despite that, his next stop is the White House.

Given the adulation the media has heaped upon Obama and the “I’m everything to everybody” campaign that he ran, you’d have to expect him to be popular. But, the American people have been gripped by an almost irrational exuberance about Obama’s presidency. It has been so over-the-top that it’s reminiscent of the post-WW1 phase of history where people actually believed the hype about having just fought the war to end all wars.

Today, instead of understanding that we have an untested President taking over the controls of a lumbering, inefficient, unreasoning beast governed by its unquenchable appetite for power and taxpayer money, you’d think that Superman had just flown down from Krypton to save us all.

As a matter of fact, that may be underselling expectations a bit because Superman couldn’t possibly achieve what many people seem to believe Barack Obama is going to accomplish in a few short years. He’s going to unite the country, create a post-racial America, get the economy humming, reduce the deficit, fix the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, win the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, get Osama bin Laden, win the war on terror, close Gitmo, keep us safe from terrorism, end global warming, stop Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, make the world love America, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. No wonder people compare Obama to Lincoln: if he could actually do everything his supporters seem to believe he will, it would probably make him a better President than Lincoln.

Of course, that would be an amazing trick indeed, since using the government as a force for good generally works about as well as using a sledgehammer as a fly swatter. Moreover, despite all the kudos Obama has received in some quarters for the staffers he’s chosen, it’s hard not to notice how many Clinton people are on board — and as far as Presidents go, Clinton was fairly unaccomplished. In fact, one of the reasons Clinton was generally liked by the American people is that he didn’t make a lot of big changes.

If Obama were even to deliver three times the amount of significant legislation that Clinton did, you’d have to think that he’d be considered an enormous disappointment. On the other hand, since many of Obama’s current supporters like him for diametrically opposed reasons — he’s liberal, he’s moderate, he’s going to make sure we win in Iraq, he’s going to leave ASAP whether we win or not, he’s not going to let the deficit get out of control, he’s going to create lots of expensive new government programs — every decision is going to alienate more people. That’s why today, when Barack Obama is enjoying his 70%+ approval rating at his 170 million dollar party, it may very well turn out to be the high water point of his entire presidency.

From here on out, a man who played both sides of the fence, voted “present” literally and figuratively on the tough calls, and got elected based on personality instead of an agenda, is going to have to do something he has never done before: effectively lead people. You have to wonder if that keeps him up at night — if, in the wee hours of the morning, after Michelle and the kids are asleep, that arrogant mask cracks and Obama sits deep in thought wondering whether he’s just a fraud who got this far because of luck.

Soon enough, we’ll begin to find out and my suspicion is that if you had to make a comparison, Obama will bear more of a resemblance to a wannabe Ozymandias than to a great man like Abe Lincoln.

“I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my works. Ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away” — Percy Bysshe Shelley

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