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More audacity than hope

Posted by Richard on July 21, 2009

Dave Hannigan, writing in Ireland's Tribune Magazine, has a scathing assessment of Obama's first six months:

Welcome to the America of President Barack Obama. On the ground, it's a little bit different from the place you see on television or read about in giddy newspaper dispatches detailing how we are all supposedly enthused and excited by this historic administration. Tomorrow it will be six months and a trillion dollars or so in increased spending since he entered the Oval Office. What a short, strange trip it's been with a leader who's so far evinced much more audacity than hope. How else to classify a man who talks a way better game than he actually plays? 

Obama escapes censure for the routinely enormous gap between what he promises and what he delivers because he is so historic and symbolic a figure, many in the media appear unwilling or unable to do their jobs when it comes to subjecting him to the normal journalistic rigour. Half a year into his regime, the absence of critical evaluation is as stunning to behold as it is potentially damaging to the body politic. What does it say about a country that the television networks appear more interested in getting him to take their star reporters on cringe-inducing tours of the White House rather than seriously examining his performance as leader?

To this point, the only consistent discordant voices have come from the extreme left in the Democratic Party, unhappy he's not imposing a socialist utopia fast enough and/or jailing Bush and Cheney, and from right-wing talk-show hosts. Indeed, the atmosphere of political correctness around Obama is so overbearing that any time a conservative pundit gets too shrill in their criticisms, they are conveniently and ignorantly tagged racist, and the validity of their attacks is then ignored. Meanwhile, previously reputable newspapers and magazines remain distracted, utterly intoxicated by the beauty of the first couple, the cuteness of their children, the newness of their dogs, and the romance of their date nights. If there's one person who's enjoying the blanket coverage of his celebrity (more than a dozen Time magazine covers and counting!) rather than his policies, it might be Obama himself.

The narcissist-in-chief can't let an hour go by without doing something for the cameras. However mundane, the crews are wheeled out to capture the moment. With his love of the limelight and penchant for long-winded speeches laden with generalisations and thick with platitudes, it's like having Bono as leader of the free world. That bad.

That's just a taste. Read the whole thing


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