Dreams of 2008 Obama's Lost Magic

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Part 2: Obamaland Is No Longer United


Usually the president's team looks robust. It is filled with clever people who begin work at 6 in the morning and go home at 11 at night. But Obamaland is no longer the cohesive place it was during the presidential election, when everyone was united behind the same vision. Disappointed supporters are quitting, exhausted staff will leave after the midterms and the weak are being thrust aside. And when people talk about the mood in 2008, they sound like former classmates at a school reunion 20 years on: Remember when we were still young?

Obama has done little for African-Americans, and nothing for homosexuals. As a result he has lost voters on the left. It was inevitable, of course. Everyone who is elected in the US moves to the center when they come to office. But the fact that the president managed to lose the support of this middle ground too was a remarkable achievement.

It may well be that America can't simply walk out of Afghanistan, but nobody in the US understands this war any more. The conflict long ago ceased to be Bush's war, and is now Obama's. Worse still, it will inevitably end with an inglorious withdrawal. Why, then, should the US send in yet more troops? Why spend $100 billion a year waging war when train stations and schools back home are falling to pieces, and the money would be better spent on other American projects and research? Congress refuses to approve extra spending on renewing America: The money has already been spent.

Far from Perfect

When Obama came to office, the country craved perfection. His government is far from perfect, however. It's not even close.

But what is more appalling still, what is more shocking on so many levels, is the state of the nation -- the political stupidity of entire federal states and systems that seem hell-bent on self-destruction. Europe and the United States are much farther apart than many Europeans think. The US is different, completely and utterly different. Americans have a completely different understanding of social solidarity and the duties of the state.

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But there are also contradictions. Millions of Americans want to reduce the power of the government, because that's the way their countrymen have always thought. Yet these same Americans want their president to lead them out of crisis. They want railway stations, schools and clean energy, but they don't want to pay taxes. They are the descendants of immigrants, and proud of it, and they oppose immigration.

Decades of prosperity have made the US a lethargic country. And in contrast to Europeans, whose lives and countries have been shaped by war, Americans are accustomed to feeling unique and invulnerable. They therefore react with near paranoia to a powerful China or a black president. Americans know they need change, yet they fear change. Such attitudes may be called schizophrenic. They're certainly a recipe for hysteria.

Hate-Mongers and Gun Freaks

The older, conservative German demonstrators who have recently been taking to the streets to protest against the controversial "Stuttgart 21" railway station project are the product of demographic change and their own fears. But the German protesters look absolutely harmless compared to America's hate-mongers, gun freaks and Tea Party demagogues who first compare Obama to Hitler and then minutes later to Stalin. They are people so filled with vitriol they can no longer think straight -- people like television presenter Glenn Beck, who says that putting the common good first is "exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany." Beck has millions of followers, and appears in public with former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, the darling of the Tea Party movement, who gleefully pronounces Obama's middle name Hussein as if it were a naughty, menacing word. Just two years ago, such things would have been taboo, and considered below-the-belt by Republicans.

This is the new atmosphere in America, and it is reflected in the Senate and the House of Representatives, two self-confident bodies populated by two political parties that eagerly take turns holding the reins of power. They paralyze themselves with rules that demand unattainable majorities for everything that is important. And even the Constitution irrevocably decrees that a senator from sparsely-populated Alaska has the same rights as a senator from New York.

The German media alternate on a daily basis between talking about "Obama's victory" and calling him a "loser." But often neither view is accurate, because the president has little or no influence over much of what is done, or not done, in the US and its 50 federal states.

Cries of Hate

Of course the American media is largely responsible for the impression people get of President Obama as well as the state of the nation as a whole. Fox News, Rupert Murdoch's TV news channel, has come to specialize in partisan mudslinging. Four of the potential future Republican presidential candidates are on Fox's payroll. The liberal channels are only different -- they are no longer any better. CNN has atrophied into a soapbox for journalist presenters. There is no analysis anymore on American TV, and little news -- only polemical attacks and shouting delivered in 90-second chunks.

Only the major newspapers still provide intelligent analysis, by people like the New York Times' insightful and levelheaded columnist David Brooks. Unfortunately, Obama's America is so polarized that the views of Brooks and his ilk are only read on the east and west coasts, and thus have little influence.

While the older, white hate mongers make loud noises, surveys show that the younger generation are generally satisfied with the direction their country is heading in. Or rather, they are indifferent, taking a benevolent view of the nice, pleasant adults, their nice, pleasant president and those wild stories about 2008. The haters, on the other hand, will go and vote in November.

Lost Dreams

Now they are calling Obama a "weakling." But that's not fair. Naturally Barack Obama reacts in a more mature, adult way than his predecessor, George W. Bush. The problem is simply that Obama is smaller than the promise he made, and tiny in comparison to the hopes an entire nation placed on him in 2008. There's one thing that Barack Obama failed to do. That was his real failure, the big mistake he made, back when everything seemed possible.

Barack Obama had a mandate. He promised to change America, change Washington and change the nation. He said that everyone would have to invest something and give something. He said that everyone would have to roll up their sleeves and work hard. Yet 69 million Americans still voted for him. Indeed, they elected him for precisely this reason.

Back then, Obama was like a high-school graduate who talked about wanting to sail around the globe, become a writer or a president. Instead, the dreamer started work as a trainee bank clerk. Now he has become a bank manager. It's certainly not a bad position, and he's doing rather well for himself. But every now and again he remembers who he once was and his dream about prolonging his youth. He knows it would have been difficult, but at least he could have given it a shot.

He did not find the courage to try.

Translated from the German by Jan Liebelt

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lakechamplainer 10/19/2010
1. Many Inaccuracies in Story
I don't know whether the story was written to tell people in Europe what they want to hear or the writer doesn't understand America. For one thing, although it is not central to the article, I wouldn't say Obama "was the best campaigner ever". He was elected because most people felt a change had to be made, and McCain was in no way capable of creating change. Also, I don't know what it means to say Americans have to be "educated" about things like climate change and saving energy. Maybe, as I believe, they believe things like "Cap and Trade" are just back-door tax increases that serve no discernible purpose. Further, on the one hand, the article states the President has accomplished health care reform, and then later, correctly, states that it really was not reform, what was passed was just passed so that it could be said something was passed. If I could ask the President one question it would be: Why is Timothy Geithner still Treasury Secretary? Actually, a better question would be, why was he kept in office at all?
JerseyMike 10/19/2010
2. There was never any magic
Obama never had any magic. He is more akin to the Wizard of Oz sitting behind a curtain and giving the impression of magic. He is articulate and bright. However, that is where it ends. He never held an executive position before being elected president. He has never ran a business. He was never a governor of a state or even the mayor of a small city. He was only elected to the US Senate about 6 months before he started running for president. In short, he had no accomplishments. (By the way - can anyone tell my why he won the Nobel Peace Prize?) He was a cartoon of his own making - he was a hero although he had never done anything heroic. The US wanted change from George W. Bush. So, we elected Barack H. Obama - not because Mr. Obama demonstrated any aptitude for the job - but rather because he was different from what we had. We are now paying the price for our collective bad choice. Mr. Obama is in way over his head and appears inept. He seems tone deaf to the electorate - or worse - an ideologue who does not share the values of many Americans. We are in the worst recession in nearly a century. Yet, he pushes his leftist agenda even when it clearly causes worse unemployment among the very people who voted him into office. He chastises and threatens businesses - when he should be building them up. He seems bent on imposing the largest tax increase in US History - even though such a tax increase has to further worsen unemployment. We wasted over a year on health care legislation which to this day no one knows a thing about - except for a price tag of $1 trillion. This will clearly require large new taxes and further weaken the private sector. We need a more business friendly administration. We need a smaller, cheaper government. That is why Mr. Obama's party will take a drubbing in the midterm elections.
joeusa 10/19/2010
3. Why Obama lost magic
America is undergoing a very peaceful revolution. The Tea party movement is very peaceful. There has been no violence related to the Tea party. American revolutions are conducted in the voting booth, not with protests and burnings on the streets like in Paris or Greece. The first black president was not forced upon the America--the American public chose to vote for Obama. That fact shows the tolerance of most Americans. American voters certainly do not hate him, and they are not afraid of him. They want Obama out of power because he has doubled the American debt, devalued the US dollar, and there are no more jobs now than when Obama started his spending spree. A trillion dollars went to labor unions and corporate welfare and other special interest groups, and middle class Americans “the Tea Party” want Obamas spending spree to stop. And on November 2, election day, Obamas wild spending will stop.
chilihead98 10/19/2010
4. The author does not understand US politics
The author does not understand the composition of the US electorate. The US is a center-right country...on balance, we are conservative. Obama is a far-left president....he had the most liberal voting record of all US senators...except for those many time he simply voted "present". He is far out of sync with the American people and incapable of governing. He has no experience running anything. He has been raised and mentored by radical promoters of black liberation theology (Google: Rev. Jeremiah Wright) and violent leftist anarchists (Google: William Ayers) Obama rules in an autocratic manner and is not concerned about achieving bipartisan consensus on anything. The behemoth healthcare bill was passed without most congressmen having read it. House speaker Nancy Pelosi had the temerity to say we needed to pass the bill so that we could then know what's in it. Not a single Republican congressman or senator supported the bill which would commit the US to trillions of dollars of expenditure and transform perhaps one sixth of our economy. This type of "governing" is pure tyranny. Obama is now going to pay a heavy price for not just ignoring, but trampling over the will of the people. The coming historic defeat of the Democratic party at the polls is entirely the fault of Obama himself and the far-left Democratic controlled congress. The Democrats running for re-election are all trying to distance themselves from Obama. The explanation for all this is a tad more complex than Obama simply "losing his magic". The emperor has been discovered to be wearing no clothes. The world is now paying the price for decades of socialist rule and spending beyond their means.
Naturhuf 10/19/2010
5. Walk the Talk!
They call this lots of talk but no action........oh wait, there IS action, but mostly for special interest groups! He's no different than most pliticians who are corrupted by big business, regardless of political affiliation. This is what needs to change....I know it will, just not sure when. Perhaps we need a few more, even severe desasters, whatever shape or form, for someone to finally get the wake up call!
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