Has Obama lost his golden tongue or is the mania finally receding?

TulipmaniaDemProg 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.

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  • Robert Arvanitis

    First, all the way back to the Utopian Socialists, America has been prone to fads.  A search for “American Fads” yields long lists of lists  (e.g. http://www.neatorama.com/2007/01/16/37-fads-that-swept-the-nation/#!UhYQL)
    A while back we talked about Obama as the perfect virus, fit only for hjacking the productive mechanisms and perverting them to its own uses.
    The disease metaphor is especially useful for Obama.  Too virulent, and a virus is hard to spread (think Ebola).  Mild, and it spreads easily but with little harm, like a cold.
    Obama lies somewhere in between, serious damage but we pray not fatal. 
    Alas for each of his fails — the harpoon goes in easy, comes out hard.

  • lee

    This makes me think of the recent Jonah Goldberg column where he wrote about Carney and Obama thinking they had the ability to make people think as they wanted a la Obi Wan Kenobi: “These are mother droids you’re seeing.” They think it works because it seemed to have worked since 2008… People genuinely bought into the Golden Child / Savior myth. It is a crowd hysteria. 

  • Zhombre

    DemProgs hear what they want to hear, see what they want to see. Through a glass darkly, you might say. But reality is filtered through preferences regarded as fact, wish fulfillment regard as accomplishment, and their overweening sense of self esteem. I doubt BHO ever wrote a speech or wrote a book by himself, or had a firm grasp of polity or policy, or ascended through the liberal cursus honorum based on his own merit.  What credulous libs lie Cohen see is a shadow, a clever mimic.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    If they are disenchanted with their current dictator, they will find a better one to worship. Count on that.

  • Caped Crusader

    Now easy to see how Hitler captivated a nation. Let us hope and pray we do not pay the same price the world paid for Hitler, but it may well happen if millions do not come to their senses.

    • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

      The only sense zombies will have is the sense to find human brains.

  • Jose

    Popular Delusions: Obama said at West Point “Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away.”
    From the American Interest (via Maggie’s Farm) Russian citizen Lilia Shevtsova states ” Putin, on the invitation of French President Hollande, will celebrate D-Day in Normandy in the company of other Western leaders. Is this what isolation looks like?”

  • jj

    So… America may be possibly pulling its head out of its ass as regards Obama.  Terrific.  Just in time for the moron vote to sweep the Clinton creature into office?

  • Eidolon

    I’m with you, Book. I never could hear anything but lefty platitudes coming from Obama, and I detested his false choices and straw men from the beginning.
    I remember talking to a coworker about him in 2008. A colleague and I said “he’s a far-left radical; nothing he’s saying about bringing people together and reaching across the aisle is true, just look at his record.” Our coworker said “you can’t just look at that, you have to consider what he’s saying.” I was pretty astounded by that. I can say I’ll play a piano concerto if I’m elected, but it’s kind of unlikely if I’ve never played piano before; even if I wanted to I wouldn’t know how. There was a definite element of wanting to be fooled in our coworker, an otherwise pretty intelligent guy.

    • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

      That’s the myth, that intelligence makes one harder to fool. The opposite is true.

  • Charles Martel

    “If they are disenchanted with their current dictator, they will find a better one to worship. Count on that.”
    I believe she looks great in pantsuits. 

    • jj

      She doesn’t.

  • Gringo

    Obama lost the gift of gab? I’m with Book – he never had it. He just had the Teleprompter.
    Obama’s finally hitting the wall will prompt me to rewrite Abraham Lincoln’s saying: ” You can fool some of the Democrats all the time, or fool all of the Democrats some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the Democrats all the time.”
    Most Republicans were never fooled.