Maureen Dowd in today’s New York Times on “Myth and Madness”,
Obama’s bloodless rationality has helped spawn the right’s bloodletting of irrationality. His ivory tower approach to the nation’s fears and anxieties about the economy gave rise to a tower of angry babble. Tea Party is basically a big tent for anger.
The president’s struggle to connect and inspire passion is a dispiriting contrast to, as Yeats said*, the worst, full of passionate intensity.
The first African-American president, who wrote in his memoir that he trained himself as a young man not to let his anger show in a suspicious white society, now faces anger on an unprecedented scale from a mostly white movement.
He seems weary of crisis management, conveying the attitude of the hero in “The Incredibles” who has to keep saving the world: “Sometimes I just want it to stay saved!”
The president seems put upon and impatient with reality while his foes seem happy to embrace fantasy.
Obama can connect with policy. He just can’t connect with the objects of policy. Empathy seems more like an abstract concept than something to practice.
He has never shaken off that slight patronizing attitude toward the working-class voters he is losing now, the ones he dubbed “bitter” during his campaign. There is no premium in trying to save people’s jobs and lift them up and give them health care if they feel that you can’t relate to them. That’s how Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his job, despite D.C.’s progress on schools and crime.
The insane have achieved political respectability while the sane act too good for it all. The irrational celebrate while the rational act bored and above-it-all.
When Rahm Emanuel leaves to go run for mayor in Chicago, all the blood will drain out of the White House. And Obama can go to Ben’s Chili Bowl for lunch every day and it won’t matter.
Read the rest here, and weep.