Re: The Age of Obama
Both John and Glenn seem quite confused to me. Glenn started out questioning whether concentrated power into a unique institutional figure was realistically the way to get change. He wondered out-loud if real change doesn't actually come from civil society instead. Then, a few minutes later, he's wishing for pseudo-revolutionary cataclysmic scenarios where reality is radically transformed via sweeping "wars on poverty" etc...and if Obama doesn't accomplish this, then he'll be let down.
John on the other hand started out arguing that the president's persona and skin-color (the symbolism) matter with regard to our culture. I can agree with that. But then he lets his euphoria extend this claim from culture to the actual institutional role of the president, which leads him to speculate that even terrorists might come to like Obama because of his skin-color and his middle-name. But wait a minute, aren't the rulers of middle-eastern countries some of the most hated by the terrorists? What can skin-color and middle-names have to do with that?
I, for one, do not think that a president's persona can have any influence whatsoever on its institutional role. The challenge is gargantuan: one small person's character and personality, against the terrible reality that so much concentrated power in such small hands can only lead to disaster. With that in mind, all the cheer-leading in the world is not going to help. Actually, if presidential hubris is what we must worry about then maybe it is the opposite of what we should be doing right now. Giving a person super-powers and then cheering him on only works in comic strips. The last time we did that was after 9-11 when for a period Bush was immune from criticism......I rest my case.