Tom Junod, writing in Esquire, airs doubts that would’ve been unspeakable among his peers not so long ago:
The most captivating political story of the present moment is not the Republican resurgence but rather the ongoing diminution of President Barack Obama. It is a story that started almost as soon as he took office, took hold with the passage of the stimulus, played itself out during the health-care debate and its aftermath, and reached its inevitable climax on Tuesday night. It is the story not of policy but rather of personality, and what makes it so captivating is its element of mystery. President Obama, after all, was elected by virtue of his personality, which provided not only contrast but novelty, and was grounded in his near-perfect pitch when addressing audiences large and small. Sure, he was cool and cerebral, but he was also confident, almost cocky, because he had the power to summon inspiring rhetoric on command, which meant that he had the power to summon us on command. Though many Americans didn’t know very much about him, there was one thing that was never in doubt when we saw and heard Obama on the stump: his ownership of his gift. By the way he carried himself, we could tell that he had always had it, and because he always had it, we could be sure that he always would have it. How could we resist a man who simply by opening his mouth could move mountains — and who had ascended all the way to the presidency by staking his political life on his own eloquence? How could we resist a man who seemed so sure that we could not resist him?
Now his gift has all but deserted him, and all that prevents the story from becoming tragic is his own apparent refusal to be affected by it.
Well anyway, some of us weren’t fooled in the first place. As Ed Morrissey says:
If the media had vetted him as a politician rather than a rock star, perhaps people like Junod might be a little less surprised to find an emperor with no clothes instead of an Anointed One.
Which reminds me of this cartoon my friend Batton Lash drew over two years ago, right after Obama wandered onto the lawn of a certain proto-‘bagger in Ohio:
Two years ago, Joe Wurzelbacher asked Obama a question he wasn’t prepared to answer and was pilloried by the man’s worshippers. He paid the price so that now the same people can fill up men’s magazines with purple prose, mourning their fading dreams.
By the way, did you know his real name is Sam? Joe is his middle name! Ah-ha!!