Talk about snakebit: Peggy Noonan chose Friday to publish a column writing off President Obama off as an unlucky president, comparing him to Jimmy Carter, just when his presidency has a little spring back in its step. Its title is luscious: "A Snakebit President: Americans want leaders on whom the sun shines."
The sun seemed to shine on Obama this week. It's true his Tuesday night speech wasn't his best, but that's because it lacked the news he was able to reveal Wednesday: That BP had agreed to create a $20 billion escrow fund to compensate the victims of its Gulf oil disaster, to have it administered by the tough Kenneth Feinberg of the 9/11 fund, and also to put off paying shareholder dividends through the end of the year.
And on Thursday, Obama got relief from the harsh, unnatural media glare in the wake of the disaster, which had landed upon him in the absence of any other visible hero or villain in the mess, when Tony Hayward testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Hayward's constant insistence that he either didn't know or couldn't recall ... virtually anything he was asked, finally made clear there is one leader whose lack of preparedness can be blamed for the crisis, and his name is Tony Hayward. (Joan Walsh, “Barack Obama’s very good week,” Joan Walsh, Salon, 18 June 2010)
1) Spirit of punishment
People who aim to show how ineffectual this president is / will be, will be rendered absurd as Obama will prove again and again, increasingly and increasingly, someone who can transcend expectations, produce something of a miracle, after weeks or months of surely-THIS-TIME-nothing-will-be-done. Healthcare is in, and not wavering. BP coughed up 20 billion, as if in response to an emperor's slight motion to fall on his sword. This administration HAS power because we -- everyone, including corporations, including many republicans --WANT IT to have power.
After long periods of pleasant or manic excess (i.e., happiness), we begin to want leaders in who will set the scene for prolonged sacrifice and (guiltless) other-demonization, through depressions, huge wars -- whatever. It will always seem to be about helping out the distraught, but the reason everyone -- including corporations -- will ultimately prove surprisingly ready to bow to him, is that they sense he is the primary incarnation of a spirit of brutal punishment these "bad boys" are terrified of, and that will -- and they want to -- rule this age.
Amendment: He is the primary ARM of a spirit of punishment. He is not the incarnation itself. That seems more accurate.
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2) The media may conclude that the people have once again proved themselves impatient and impulsively needy, ultimately unequal to the poised, patient, thoughtful and resourceful man they've elected president -- as it did after Obama got healthcare. Obama is not Carter, mostly because people want now more to turn on themselves than they do this emotionally distant, possibly judgmental, president, who hovers over an age of unbelievable excess, lack of restraint. "Reagan" won't follow him because "Reagan" would do what we want of him -- which would drive us to a state of sinfulness that would be paralyzing. Obama acts under his own terms, at his own pace, seeing the filth at the heart of the ordinary man that would drive any sane man away -- why else do so want him to show some responsiveness than to confirm he knows the degree of our own fallenness? Don't underestimate our desire to turn on ourselves and ultimately INCREASE our loyalty to Obama. That's my sense. (Note: THIS post -- #2 -- originally posted at realpsychohistory, 16 June 2010)