The loss of the Chicago Olympics should not have been particularly embarrassing to Obama. Previous administrations were not tarnished by lost Olympic bids for the simple reason that they did not get involved in them. Bush did not jump on board New York City's ill fated 2012 Olympic bid. He did not fly out to make a personal appearance, spread his charisma and press the flesh on behalf of a bid being waged by a single city. And there was no reason for him to do so. That is because for all the criticisms directed at Bush by the left and the far-right, he understood his duties and the limits of his power in a way that Obama does not.
Obama made Chicago's Olympic bid his first priority, only squeezing in a half-hour session with General McChrystal who is in charge of the Afghan front that he had promised to commit all his efforts to on the campaign trail, after McChrystal embarrassed him by revealing that he had only talked once with Obama. Would anyone care to make a guess how many times Obama had spoken to those in charge of Chicago's Olympic bid? Somehow I suspect it's more than once. Or twice.
Is he the leader of Chicago, the United States or the Free World? Obama himself can't seem to decide that because he doesn't think in terms of national duties or obligations, only of himself. His speeches filled with the constant egotistical refrain of "I's" and "Me's" are the product of a man who does not see himself in terms of his country, but sees his country in terms of himself.
Obama cannot draw the line between his legitimate duties and random publicity, just as neither of the Obamas seem to have any concept of the dignity of their office. To them there is no dignity, only privilege and entitlement. They recognize that they have power, but they recognize no limitations on that power and treat it as an extension of their egos. The royal couple have a boundless appetite for flattery and none at all for self-discipline. The concept of "Doing Your Duty" is wholly foreign to people who never worked legitimately for anything, who got plum positions thanks to a combination of political connections, racial huckstering and personal charm.
Any position that they hold in their minds is an extension of themselves. That is why Obama does not see himself in terms of the Presidency or wonder whether he is up to the job. He sees the Presidency and all the privileges that come with it as part of his aura. Any problem he comes across, he treats as something that can be resolved with enough exposure to that aura. And when that doesn't work, the Obama toolbox turns up shockingly empty.
The media which has been well trained to feed the boundless egos of celebrities have found their perfect political match in Obama. They lavished their love on him. They depicted him with halos over his head. They lost any concept of the boundary between bias and worship, in the process coming to resemble the slavish doggy adoration of a state controlled press corps. And now some of them are slowly waking up to the realization that simply because you can manufacture image does not mean that you can manufacture reality. Like Obama the media had lost track of the limits of their power, the boundaries at which their control end and real life begins.
The media, particularly on the television end of things, shares with Hollywood a boundless faith in the ability to create and recreate images, to make of reality what they will. To control the vertical and the horizontal, to change the focus and deluge your mind with a thousand images. And the audience, in the words of the famous Outer Limits opening theme was expected to, sit quietly and let the broadcasters control all that you see and hear. But that power fantasy, like all of the power fantasies that come out of Hollywood's studios of fiction and New York's studios of fact, was incomplete. Controlling image does not control reality. The media helped shape Obama's image, but can do very little to improve his reality.
Propaganda has traditionally served to create an echo chamber effect with dictatorships as a state controlled press fed back the message that the rulers of the state wanted to hear, back to the state. The problem with the echo chamber is that it is also a mirage. Repeated Soviet dictators had no idea how bad their economic, agricultural and military problems were, because there was no one to tell them. A healthy free press serves as a useful warning bell. A slavish media mutt who licks politician's boots full time blinds those same politicians to their own incompetence and the scale of the problems they must address. It leaves them unaware of and unable to address even simple problems in an organized fashion.
Obama's love affair with himself, and the media's love affair with him, overlapping with the viral craze of a generation that had come to believe that digital reality had superseded physical reality, created a distortion cloud of images, fonts, symbols and myths that are now imploding on themselves. Brutal force sustained the cults of personality of Communist rulers, but Obama relied on manufacturing the social charisma of rock stars and celebrities. And while that impressed far many Americans, it cannot change the nature of reality.
Obama's cult of personality made him king, but it could not make him competent. And that should not surprise his media backers at all. Celebrity when applied to practical tasks is nothing more than vapor. It can sell a product, but it can't make it work. Obama's America is a failed product, a myth built on iconic logos and plagiarized sound bites, on hope for people too young to remember that the only thing most politicians really hope for is to get into office and stay there.
Every egotist is a king inside his own head, lost in a narcissistic vision of his own genius. Kings of course have no defined limits to the powers. They accomplish things by simply saying so. Their will is everyone's law. No one refuses them. No one resists them. In their own minds anyway. Obama has made his own power fantasy real enough, but he cannot make himself omnipotent. And his cult of personality impresses few outside the United States.
The leaders of Russia and China who wield their own cults of personality are not about to be impressed by an imported cult of personality. And European leaders who do not have to live under a media regime that insists on lecturing them on the greatness of Obama, are free to disregard the lunacy as well. That is why Obama's repeated foreign trips have done nothing except enable Michelle Obama to pick up more souvenirs in every airport. Because the only thing that Obama really brings on those trips is a dose of teleprompter charisma and the expectation that his own importance should be enough to awe all participants into getting things done, his way.
Unsurprisingly the worst policies of the Carter and Clinton administrations, applied by a new generation that is just as unable to detach image from reality as their own boss, are not producing spectacular results. And Obama's eagerness to get out in front to promote them has only wasted his own influence and demonstrated his incompetence.
Incapable of understanding the limits of the borrowed power of his office, Obama has blindly stumbled smack dab into them anyway. Because charisma cannot solve Afghanistan. Charisma cannot nationalize health care. Charisma cannot create jobs, except those involving makeup and photography. Charisma cannot reduce the national debt. Charisma cannot bring peace to the Middle East, create alternative energy sources or accomplish anything useful that does not involve selling magazines.
The Obama who would be King has wasted truly spectacular amounts of money on behalf of his corporate and union backers. He has alienated America's allies, alienated independent voters and sabotaged every one of his own agendas. He has put himself outside the law, tried to govern through a government of Czars and in the process created a scattershot administration in which every other official is scrambling for power. And while Obama himself is incapable of realizing any of this, his liberal backers are increasingly becoming aware that the worst threat to their agenda is also the means they used to sell America on that agenda. Obama himself.
When his ability to "fool all the people some of the time" runs out, Obama will officially go from being an asset to becoming a liability. And that time is quickly running out.