There was something about Barack Obama I liked in the first part of last year’s presidential campaign. Perhaps it was just the contrast between him and Hillary Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination. He spoke well, he looked good. For a while, it seemed that this charismatic (relatively) young man could really unite the nation.
He showed respect for conservatives and our ideas. He appreciated the greatness of the Gipper.
But, as the campaign wore on, it became increasingly apparent that there wasn’t much novelty behind his charismatic façade. He was the most liberal member of the Senate. His policy proposals were little more than recycled liberal ideas of the past forty years. The “change” he proposed merely represented a return to the pre-Bill Clinton Democratic Party.
Since he’s become president, I’ve found him far less compelling a figure than I had a year previously. His speeches seem little more than strings of cliches. And when he talks to us, as he does all too frequently, he smiles far less than he did during the campaign, as if he believes an air of solemnity is necessary to project an image of gravitas. He just has to show us how important he is.
In the end, he appears just to be feigning earnestness and it’s becoming increasingly irritating. The austerity of his expression won’t make up for the banality of his rhetoric. As Peggy Noonan observed just over a year ago, “when you remove Mr. Obama from the words and take them on their own–you see the speech wasn’t all that interesting, and was in fact high-class boilerplate.”
That wise pundit isn’t the only one to notice that there’s nothing new or original behind the charming mask. The Telegraph’s James Delingpole also finds there’s no there there:
Now, it’s becoming clear that this carefully worked, glacial poise is all there is to Obama. He’s just a hollow man spouting empty rhetoric. . . .
Obama’s speech on the other hand, was the usual grandiloquent exercise in high-sounding nothingness. Apart from the familiar gangsta-rap-style boasting about how big and important he now is (“I took an oath as your Commander In Chief..”), all he had to offer were platitudes designed – a la Belial – to make inaction and pusillanimity in the war on terror look the only sensible course.
(H/t: Jennifer Rubin.)