"Obama is diminished because America is diminished. One thing he has destroyed, perhaps for a very long period of time, is its real prestige. Prestige is based on a kind of fear or awe and not on supposed “affection” which counts for nothing in the hard calculus of the world.It's from a website called Pajamasmedia. I know nothing of that site, and don't condemn or condone its contents. The above piece has some interesting insights, but like so many things, there is more to be said. What strikes me about this, as well as the linked story from which it was lifted, is how many are searching for ways to spin President Obama's trip. No one is making the point that it was a rousing success. Everyone admits things are not looking good. That's what I notice. When the debate is no longer 'is America a great nation or a dying nation', but merely 'why is it dying and who's fault is it?', then you know we are in deep.
That awe was compounded not just of America’s strength, but to something Ralph Peters once called “The Old Magic”; the idea that somehow America had a kind of greatness, a sort of mojo that raised it above the low places of the world. Obama is proof, or seeming proof, that it does not.
“How could we have elected this man” translates to “how could the US have elected this man?” when viewed from the outside. Americans are palpably foolish after all, must the conclusion. This is in a smaller measure, what Malayans discovered about the British Empire when their armies were being marched from Singapore to build railroads for the Japanese for a handful of rice and knock on the head. Britain was supposed to produce Wellingtons and Nelsons. What Singapore showed was Perceval’s greatness was only the sham greatness of the Raffles Hotel social set. How hollow it was.
When people discover the Old Magic is gone; that the Presidents and the Secretaries of State are human after all they begin to think, “they’ve lost the mandate of heaven”. Gee, these guys are foolish.
Ironically every time conservatives throw a brickbat at the President that sticks it diminishes the prestige further. The truth is, American would prefer an President who was great; who bestrode the world stage. Who embodied the Old Magic. Not Hope and Change from a box of crackerjacks. On the day that the world regards him as a clown is the day America itself shares in his shame. After all, like or not, he was elected to the Oval office.
Paradoxically even Obama’s enemies have an interest in not seeing him make a fool of himself. But it is unclear whether anything can be changed now, if he’s determined to play the jester to the end. It just has to play out, to run to its sad, whimpering end, like a Greek tragedy, in the desperate hope there’ll be enough pieces left to pick up when the party’s over."
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Obama leads a diminishing nation
A good friend of mine, Ron, who currently lives in Hungary, sent this along: