Bill Clinton showed up on Time Magazine covers often enough, but never disguised as another American president. But so far Time has presented us with a cover picture of Obama in FDR drag and another one of Reagan embracing Obama. Before the big O's term is done, we may well be treated to another cover of Obama playing basketball with Andrew Jackson on the cover of Newsweek or in bed in the Lincoln Bedroom with Abe Lincoln for Time's last print issue.
FDR was not a historic president, not until he actually made history. Reagan didn't make history by being elected, he made history through the decisions he took once in office. Obama's media lackeys are unable to point to any historic decisions he actually made. Instead he's presented as historic for just being him. Initially the media insisted that his ascension was historic because he was half-black, but had JFK been notable for no other reason than that he was Irish-Catholic, he would be an obscure figure today. Race is not leadership and identity is not historic.
During his campaign, Obama deliberately confused the difference between ancestry and biography. But Americans don't look up to George Washington because he was descended from the kings of Scotland. Nor do they look up to him because he was white. It is what he actually did that mattered. Similarly had George Washington Carver spent his career going on about how confusing his teenage years were, he would never have amounted to anything beyond an annoying dinner companion. Biography is not destiny. It is what you do that makes history, not who you were.
The constant attempts to associate Obama with historic presidents does him no favors. It only makes it all too apparent that the boots of great presidents are too big for him to fill. While Democratic wonks lust for a crisis, they would be better off hoping for peace and tranquility. Obama has already shown that he can't handle a crisis. He can't manage wars or economic depressions or international turmoil or anything more complicated than the dinner menu. His real skills are those of a subpar actor and an average speechwriter, he can tonelessly mimic emotions and crib lines he read somewhere into the shape of a speech that invokes greatness, without actualizing it. Obama is everything that Democrats accused Reagan of being-- a subpar actor posturing on the world stage.
The Time Magazine covers smack of an almost Soviet historical revisionism in which each new leader was given his own cult of personality. A notorious Soviet anecdote described plans to construct a statue honoring Lenin during the reign of Stalin. The sculptor initially submitted a proposal to feature a statue of Lenin reading a book of his own essays. It was rejected. So he submitted another proposal that would have Lenin reading a book of Stalin's essays. Now that Time has a cover of Reagan and Obama to commemorate Reagan's 100th anniversary, the next step is a cover that features Reagan reading, "Dreams from My Father". (In another typically Soviet bit of airbrushing, the cover shows Obama standing taller than Reagan, when both men were actually the same height.)
The constant attempts to make Obama seem historic for just showing up have little to do with history as we understand it. They are the propaganda leaflets of a cult of personality. They are not history, they are anti-history. The Ozymandian statues constructed for the glorification of the beloved leader. Depicting Obama next to Reagan will not make the world view him as if he were Reagan. And dressing him up like FDR will not boost his management skills. Image is not reality and all the glossy magazine covers in the world can't change that.
Obama doesn't have a messaging problem, he has a problem getting the message. He doesn't understand the voters or the world. And he still hasn't learned to accept his own shortcomings. Depicting him next to iconic figures only pours oil on the fire of his ego. If there's one thing that he doesn't need, it's more praise. In half a term, he has gotten more uncritical praise, lavish flattery and hopeless adoration than Lincoln, FDR and Reagan got in all their time in office. And all of that has come his way for smiling into the camera and making liberals feel good about themselves.
We learn as much by failing as by doing. But Obama has never been allowed to fail. Every screwup of his is greeted with applause. Like the brat raised by parents who could never say no, because it might harm his self-esteem, he has no manners and can't cope with setbacks. And when he gets suspended from school, instead of scolding him, his media parents buy him an ice cream cake decorated with a picture of him next to Reagan. Their response to every criticism is that people just don't understand how special Barry is. But that's because Barry isn't special. He's an obnoxious brat whom his media parents raised into a proper little monster, all ego and no sense. He has never had to work for anything and having brained the Peter Principle, he still spends more time golfing and partying than working.
It's not Bush who was the shiftless favorite son, who accidentally ended up in the White House thanks to connections and influence. It was always Obama, who had just enough skills to convince people that he was whatever they wanted him to be. And the covers are a reminder of that. Not just the slavish praise, but the identity morphing. From FDR to Reagan. The liberal hero and the bipartisan moderate. The man of peace and the man of action. Obama's image is so contradictory because it's completely unreal. A cloakroom filled with disguises that his advisers and supports hastily throw over him. The clothes change all the time and the man underneath remains nothing but a chimera with a smile.
Obama is not Reagan. He's not FDR or even JFK. He hardly even qualifies as Carter. The media has been so busy dressing him up as what he isn't, that even they have no idea of what he really is. In the 90's, Time knew who Clinton was. But they have no real idea who Obama is, behind the curtain of race, the veil of liberalism, all the distractions and diversions, are more of the same. Obama is a hall of mirrors. His image is a reflection of all the posters, slogans and flattering articles directed his way. Not a man, but a meta-image with more in common with Ronald McDonald or Mickey Mouse, than Ronald Reagan or FDR. And an image can't fill a real president's boots.