Topic: Decline of the West
You don’t need the political second sight of a Machiavelli or a Karl Rove to perceive that Barack Obama has decided to play the populist card in his increasingly challenging quest for reelection. “Millionaires and billionaires,” “Wall Street,” “Pass this bill right now”—the script is coming together before our eyes.
And it’s a mistake to think that a product of elite privilege can’t pose as a populist. FDR—no horny-handed son of toil he—turned that trick quite effectively with his condemnations of Wall Street’s “economic royalists.” But Roosevelt, though in reality a cold man, was adept at projecting an aura of bland geniality—leading Oliver Wendell Holmes, no less, to remark that FDR possessed “a first-class temperament.”
Three years into his presidency, no one could make a remark like that about Barack Obama. It makes for funny yet sad reading to revisit Christopher Buckley’s 2008 column in the Daily Beast, wherein he threw John McCain under the bus and endorsed the Messiah:
“[H]aving a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves.… Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.
Wince! Seldom has the proposition that a high IQ does not necessarily imply good political judgment been so resoundingly validated.
So can Barry fake his way through a populist campaign without looking as phony as, well, John Edwards? Nah. With his palpable sense of entitlement, his thin skin and his perfect trouser creases, Barack H. Obama possesses all the populist appeal of a corporate jet.