Barack Obama and the 28th President
Something occurred to me independently recently (as I mentioned last Sunday) that seems to have struck the author of 'strange death of liberal america' website in a different way a few weeks ago. I think, to waste a little time, I might put my thought in the form of a story.
There was once a candidate in American elections who decried war and who pledged to keep America out of one. He called for fiscal responsiblity and small but progressive goverment. His campaign managers fought their way through a four-way fight against a split Republican Party and a stalwart of the Democrats baked by big urban machines and lobbyists who ran on his Washington experience.
The candidate was , he said, an agent of change. He attracted independents and republicans to his side by offering to heal the divisions, finally, of the civil war fifty years before in his person, and by noting that change 'always upset people'. He wanted change to 'release the generous energies of the people'.
However, standing at the start of a new century, the candidate was also accused of a new and rather unpleasant diffidence, amounting to an arrogance, which was compensated by his pure image and uplifting words. He had been a professor at a major national institution, whose intellectual distance was compensated for by his wife and family. Those sick of the old politics backed him.
All the way up to the convention, analysts see-sawed between the two candidates, with some thinking that the former, defeated but popular nominee associated with populism, was the man to heal the divide. That man himself remained sphinx-like, his rhetorical guns silent.
Then the intellectual, 'keep-out-of-war' candidate won, pledged the world to change, tried to make business transparent and ethical, and fought great battles for reform, as well as making an attempt to stimulate the economy and pay down what he had always considered a scandalous and dangerous debt.
Despite this, he was sucked into a Balkan war started by an act of terrorism, and presided over a country menaced by bombs associated with immigrants who worshipped what some believed to be an alien religion. The apostle of change ended up trying to create world order through a new world organisation, and was briefly hailed as the messiah of Europe, until his plans collapsed in ashes. His ghost is said to haunt his old house in S Street, weeping. Mostly by nutters, but initially by old soldiers.
Let's hope that Barack Obama and Woodrow Wilson (a 'progressive' segregationist) have far less in common than, race apart, they seem to.