For all his faults, and he certainly had many of them, Bill Clinton understood people. His politics were dirty, but they were a common sort of dirt. For all his egotism, venality and corruption; Bill Clinton understood what Obama does not, that power comes from the people. It was this more than anything else that gave him his teflon coating, that let him dodge scandal after scandal. The media was mostly on his side, but unlike Obama, Clinton knew better than to rely on them too much. The media might help shape his image, but in the end it was the public that would pass judgment on it.
By contrast Obama's first year has demonstrated all too well that he has no understanding of people. His quick rise to the top, his lack of real campaign experience, and the wild adulation that his backers cultivated for him insured that he wouldn't. Unlike Clinton's sense of invulnerability which came from poor judgment, Obama's sense of invulnerability comes from his failure to understand that every day there is a quiet public referendum in millions of American homes on his performance.
Like so many dictators, Obama has gone on leaning on his media crutch, certain that a constant stream of propaganda is all that's really needed to keep the public in line. And when it failed to work, his only response was bafflement. The product of a digital campaign, Obama and his people see the media as as the ultimate tool, failing to understand that it is only one of many channels to the voters. And while the media daze has made Obama seem omnipresent, it has also made him seem distant and out of touch.
But there is a reason that Obama is where he is, that a man and his staff who can only think in top down ways, who manipulate and scheme constantly, are where they are. The Democratic did not want another Clinton, they didn't want someone who would make compromises and cut deals. They wanted tyranny and they still want it.
The cry of the left against Obama is directed against his failure to go far enough. Why haven't US troops already withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan? Why wasn't Gitmo closed instantly? Why wasn't the public option passed? That these things weren't feasible is something they don't want to hear. Feasible is for democracies. The man they elected was just supposed to do everything they wanted, no matter what.
And so newspaper editorials demand that a public option. They demand cap and trade. They demand tyranny. The madness of the same people who denounced Bush as a tyrant clamoring for Obama to do whatever is necessary to push through measures that the public opposes and that would never get through the Senate is the sheerest hypocrisy. But their arrogance doesn't stop there. Andrew Sullivan wants Obama to bring peace to Israel by invading it. The New York Times wants Obama to bring on universal health care by taxing everyone to pay for it. There is no room for a middle ground. No room for humility or democracy. Just get it done, is the new motto.
And in retrospect, Obama was the perfect icon for the liberal will to power. The vague reality distorting haze surrounding him, the sense of the unreal pervading his public appearances. Liberals did not want an LBJ, who would get things done through horse trading and back room dealing. They wanted a resurrected JFK, a mythical figure to settle everything through diktat, not democracy.
Obama's unnaturalness, his two faced Janus routine, a fixed grin on one side of his head and a cool contemptuous facade on the other, and his great vagueness, made him the great dictator that liberals wanted so badly to overturn eight years of Bush. And for all that they had accused the Republicans of being irresponsible, arrogant and corrupt-- they couldn't wait to be irresponsible, arrogant and corrupt on a truly epic scale.
And now the left is disappointed because Obama hasn't been quite the Great Dictator they imagined. Because as detached as he may be, he still needs to cut deals and adhere to some notion of political reality. Obama may not understand people. He may be arrogant beyond measure and contemptuous of democracy-- but even he has a firmer grasp on reality than many of his high profile supporters. Who want what amounts to a tyranny, right now... and throw childish tantrums when told that they have to wait a little longer.
For anyone who thought that the left had shown itself at its most deranged during 8 years of Bush, are now being treated to the dementia of a left in power, denied absolute power.