Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Join a Discussion

Weekly schedule, past shows

The Insiders
Posted at 07:48 AM ET, 05/29/2012

Time for Democrats to decide: Is Obama an idol or a president?

The left has a decision to make: Is it going to try to repackage the starry-eyed romance and dreamy magic of Barack Obama from four years ago or build a rationale for his reelection based on lessons learned and a plausible critique of the president's performance in office. Perhaps it will need to acknowledge that the idolization of Obama was a one-time phenomena and that voters, desperate for some results, will be impatient with proselytizing from the Obama camp.

A good test is approaching. Next Monday, June 4, will be the four-year anniversary of the speech candidate Obama gave celebrating his delegate count, which would make him the certain Democrat nominee. He took the occasion to state what he thought his presidency foretold. Of his own nomination victory, Obama said, "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth." He let others really lay it on thick. You would think the retrospective absurdity of this quote would make liberals a little cautious, if not embarrassed, and cause them to rethink how they enabled Obama. We will see how this is hidden or celebrated in the next few days.

Frank Bruni, writing in the New York Times, suggests the left is going to double-down on the theme of Obama as the chosen one and his followers as enlightened. Bruni appears to be willing to strain even harder for Obama in 2012 by neglecting to find anything particularly admirable about Mitt Romney while completely refreshing the Obama myth. He never hints that the reality of electing a president who was a little-accomplished state senator, unknown community organizer and high school stoner has produced some disappointments and required plenty of on-the-job training. You have to read it to get the full dose, but among other things, Bruni says of Obama, "He still personifies the hope that we might evolve into the colorblind, fair-minded country that many of us want.  His own saga taps into the larger story of this country's fitful unfinished progress toward its stated ideal of equal opportunity."

Like other liberals, Bruni credits Obama's charmed life so far as being "his journey." Conversely, he is not only condescending to Mitt Romney but finds fault with him, saying, "He hasn't succeeded in rummaging through his biography for the sorts of broadly inspirational chapters that can help a candidate bond with voters." He states that Romney, like Bush, is "another child of privilege and political scion." Bruni goes on to say that Romney "seems congenitally closed-off and palpably awkward about transforming the personal into the political."  As if "rummaging through his biography" and "transforming the personal into the political" is what makes a good candidate and leader. Bruni and the Obama disciples can't see — or they just choose to ignore — any understated grace or humility in Romney. They can't appreciate the example of his exemplary family and his earnest desire to repay part of what he has earned through hard work and good fortune by entering public service. Romney is not good at boasting and the left would hammer him if he tried.

Many on the left have lost any insight into their own bias; nothing Obama says is over the top, and nothing he has done lacks significance or inspiration. Likewise, nothing Romney says or has done amounts to much. By forcing a halo upon Obama, suggesting dark hearts among any who don't see it and follow, and ignoring the virtues of a decent man like Romney, does not serve the president well. It stirs resentment among voters who chafe at being told to love him or else.  

By  |  07:48 AM ET, 05/29/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company