In several posts I have suggested that Barack Obama does not care much about being re-elected in 2012.
Toby Hamden agrees with me in this article in the Telegraph (UK). (Astonishingly, he neglects to cite to my trailblazing posts.)
We disagree somewhat on Obama's thinking. I have written that Obama cares only about the approval of his social-justice-redistributionist academic and leftist journalist constituency, the only people he respects. These people will lionize him and hire him even if he goes down to defeat in 2012. Electoral failure in the future cannot rob him of his schoolchild's title of Our First Black President, for which he will be (justifiably) noted forever, no matter how lousy a president he turned out to be.
Hamden takes a different view, speculating that Obama is thinking ahead to becoming a figure on the world stage in a "post-American" era. In fact, these positions are not so far apart. Hamden writes:
"Obama does not suffer from self-doubt. He has long seemed so convinced of his own virtue that to question his motives is illogical. Increasingly, his pronouncements carry the tone of one who believes those who disagree are stupid or bigoted.
* * *
"In Berlin in 2008, Obama cast himself as a 'citizen of the world.' He has dismissed the bedrock notion of American exceptionalism by describing it . . . as little more than narrow patriotism. Elite opinion among liberal Ivy League types -- of which Obama is the embodiment -- holds that we are already living in a post-American world."
That's right. He is looking forward to the time when he need move only among -- and answer only to -- liberal opinion leaders. However, I don't think he will become a respected world leader. Oh, he'll be greeted politely by those who are already delighted at the weakening of the United States that began several administrations ago (Republicans most assuredly included) and that he has greatly accelerated. He is not respected -- he seems almost to be regarded as a faintly comical figure -- among leaders of Western democracies.
He is, in short, Jimmy Carter.
Unlike Carter and Bill Clinton, however, Obama will never travel to hostile countries to free incarcerated Americans in hostile lands. He'll never pound nails into a Habitat for Humanity home; he'll never co-chair disaster relief efforts with George W. Bush. That's a far too, too . . . practical a use of his grand and mostly self-imagined moral authority. Let the politicians do stuff like that.
I see for Obama a rather sad old age. Oh, he'll do fine in the decade or so after he leaves office, serving on the Harvard faculty (good luck finding him in a classroom -- this is not an industrious man), chairing left-of-center foundations (again, mostly honorarily), speechifying vaporously around the world, with that odd head-swing of his as he pivots from teleprompter to teleprompter. But in the long run, after the history books acknowledge his historical significance, the next paragraphs will note his failed promise. He will not be influential, as Bill Clinton has been (aided to some degree, in his case, by the visibility and talents of Mrs. Clinton, but mainly because of his political intelligence and resonance with voters). For future generations he won't be much more than a picture on a plate.
And the guy whose profligacy they're still paying for.
It's really too bad. I didn't vote for the guy, but there was promise there. Turns out he's just another pol who confused the title with the task.