DemProg columnist Richard Cohen thinks that Obama’s current difficulties stem from the fact that he’s lost the gift of gab:
Like a pitcher who has lost his fastball, Barack Obama has lost “the speech.”
The speech has always been central to the president and his presidency.
He established his credentials with the one he delivered to the 2004 Democratic National Convention while still a state senator.
The man who once said, “I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters” has lost his stuff.
I never heard Obama’s golden tongue. To me, he was always a Leftist demagogue. For that reason, when I read Cohen’s words, my first thought was that they reminded me of The Emperor’s New Clothes.
On further reflection, though, I saw that this analogy was wrong. In that famous fairy tale, the courtiers’ and towns people’s’ eyes confirmed that the emperor was parading around naked. They knew what was going on. But either through fear (“I’ll be banned from court”) or insecurity (“Am I the only one who sees he’s naked?”), they all said nothing.
In Obama’s case, the Obama-ites, the ones who bought into him as the new Messiah, the black man who would bind America’s and the world’s wounds, genuinely heard magic in his words. They weren’t faking the hysteria, the enthusiasm, and the excitement.
So instead of thinking about The Emperor’s New Clothes, I find myself thinking about Charles Mackay’s 1841 book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. In it, Mackay examined inexplicable societal enthusiasms such as Tulipomania in 17th century Holland, when a charming but essentially valueless bulb sparked a market bubble that left a few people rich and many people poor; or the unspeakably cruel witch hunts that swept through Europe and North America.
Had he lived long enough, Mackay would undoubtedly have chronicled the German people’s mania for a second-rate artist who spoke hysterically in apocalyptic terms, sparking the most deadly war in history. And, were he to appear suddenly ten years hence, no doubt Mackay would write about the peculiar time in America when the people looked an empty suit — a man with unknown grades, an insignificant legal career, failed “social justice” projects, and minimal legislative experience — and saw in him the ne plus ultra in modern politicians.
Obama triggered a switch in DemProg brains. They heard something that really wasn’t there. It was an extraordinary popular delusion and, as with so many of those phenomena, when it’s over, there’ll be plenty of destruction in its wake.
Likewise, as is typical with these epidemic bouts of delusion, the madness cannot sustain itself. It wears away. The switch turns off. The blinders lift. And people stand there, either trying to justify their behavior or simply trying to come to terms with the damage their behavior helped cause. And some, of course, remain obdurately blind forever.