Thingish Things

The Icarus Presidency

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Aug• 01•11

Barack Obama, arguably the most exalted new president in American history, is falling, meteorically, to earth.   It’s not just his poll numbers that are problematic.  His wings are singed.  That is far worse. It is a politically fatal condition.

It was bound to happen.  Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign was almost unfair in its promises.  He ran as a messiah. He was going to halt the rise of the oceans and and heal planet earth. He was going to restore American greatness and usher in an era of “post-partisanship” in Washington.  Mr. Obama was to be America’s Philosopher King.  He would be George Washington, Abe Lincoln, FDR, and Martin Luther King Jr. all wrapped up in one.  Newspapers and magazines ran out of metaphors for the young wunderkind, just two years out of the Illinois state senate.

I remember watching young people’s faces during 2007 and 2008 Obama rallies — particularly the faces of young African-Americans — and thinking how very cruel it was to promise so much.  They became mesmerized with hope at Obama’s rhetorical incantations.  “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!,” he exclaimed.

Older voters who supported him at least were better armed for disappointment.  They knew, or should have known, the truth to those grandmotherly admonitions:  What goes up must  come down; if it’s too good to be true, it probably is, and beware the door with too many keys.

But everyone wanted to believe.  Even prominent Republicans climbed aboard the Hope Express. This was to be the transformational presidency and no one wanted to be left behind. The Nobel Committee awarded President Obama its Peace Prize before he had done anything, certainly before he ordered the bombing of Libya.

Now, one by one, we are seeing members of the Obama cult slip away from him, both from the Left and from the Right. The false idol is being cast aside like fool’s gold, as all false idols are. And another old truism proves itself correct once more: The taller you are, the harder you fall. 

Icarus flew too high again.  He is plummeting to earth. 





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  1. Your Friend says:

    So much to quibble with here. First, his promises were not nearly so exalted as you claim. If you heard otherwise, that’s not his fault. He promised change and he has been far more centrist than any president in our lives. The fact that he inherited the worst economic catastrophe since FDR is not his fault (as I’ve argued before, the current financial crisis is in fact worse than the Great Depression because of the complexity of the securities that brought it about; it will be more than a decade before we resolve this and you can count on our body politic to continue to make matters worse). Despite that grim inheritance, he has passed more meaningful legislation in two and half years than GWB managed in eight. If those of us who still support him are saddened by the fact that he may only serve one term, we are heartened by the fact that he did evrything he needed to do in that single term. History will look on GWB with a very harsh lens. Not the case for Obama. Twenty years from now we will all look back very fondly on the man. A word of warning: your piece makes his loss sound like a foregone conclusion. While even I am not optimistic, I would not bet against the man as you have so happily done. The man is a winner.

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