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Comment on ‘He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For’ (Paul Krugman, 01/20/2010)

January 20, 2010

Comment on

He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For

New York Times | January 20, 2010

Mr. Obama’s stunning failure to have the courage of his (purported) convictions may go down in history as one of the signal tragedies in  the decline of the American experiment.I can’t help but think of Icarus: with ambitions of emulating his notion of God, Obama indulged his ambition to fly above the fray of ‘politics as usual’, only to find that the wings of his ideals and rhetoric were no match for a Republican Party well-practiced in the dark art of creating heat disguising as light.  And while one can easily – and sympathetically – understand that as a rookie mistake, it is maddening…confounding…truly toxic! that he has CONTINUED to try to flap those wings despite the obvious fact that he hit the water a long time ago and is now barely treading it.

It’s difficult to know how to frame this behavior this. Idealism? Weakness? Incompetence? (maybe he is a one trick pony, with little else up his sleeve than aspirations to preside over some  glorious moment of consilient kumbaya centered on the Capitol dome). But what is clear is that at this point he’s move well past whatever first principle was in play at the outset of his administration and well into the realm of destructive hubris. Ironically, he seems to share that quality with his predecessor – post-partisanship is quickly turning into Obama’s Iraq, but rather than spewing misery over a land far from home (where, arguably, they were at least used to it), Obama’s version seems likely to lay waste to our own country.

It saddens me to say this – I was as in love with Candidate Obama as many of my fellow desperate progressives, and it terrifies me to think that I have anything in common with the birthers and tea-partiers  – but Mr. Obama seems to be quickly becoming somewhat dangerous. And unlike Mr. Bush, who clearly and faithfully represented his own political tribe and who could therefore be opposed within the standard political framework, Mr. Obama’s failures seem to be headed toward forcing our side – once again! – into our chronic mode of self-immolation.

What do you do when “the one” turns out to be a charlatan? How do we recover from yet another in such a long string of failed standard-bearers? (Carter…Clinton…Edwards)  It might be that Icarus turns out to be the wrong tragic figure; it’s starting to feel a lot more like something out of Sisyphus….

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