Let’s start with a card on the table: Given the alternative, I think Obama should be president.
Some people whose views I really respect loved the speech last night. Some people whose views I respect a bit more really didn’t like it. I didn’t much like it, but it’s taking a while for me to figure out why a speech that left many of my colleagues in raptures left me very, very uneasy.
I heard a man whose rhetorical skills are so good that even when he’s surfing a wave of self-satisfaction — as he was last night — he can unload a freezerfull of ancient political cliches and have you thinking, yeah, maybe there’s something fresh here. But when it comes to his policies, this Canadian doesn’t see the fuss. His economic views are nothing to get excited about. He’s against gay marriage. He won’t come out and defend Roe v Wade. His health care plan is seriously flawed.
What I saw last night was a 47 year old man who is not in love with himself, but with the idea of himself. Or as Charles Krauthammer put it, “Barack Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life. Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions. But himself.”
He has never really had a job, but has written two autobiographies. Or as David Brooks writes, “We heard about his time as a community organizer, the three most fulfilling months of his life.”
But I think the best political analyst I know put it best, and deadliest: “Obama is like an annoying prep school grad detailing all his summer jobs, blissfully unaware that there’s nothing inherently noble in being a tyke.”