Victor Davis Hanson: Obama’s Virtual Rose Garden





NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author most recently of the just-released The End of Sparta, a novel about ancient freedom.

When Barack Obama went into hibernation in December and vacationed in Hawaii, we noted that his poll numbers edged back up some. His advisers probably noticed the anomaly too: that the less the people hear and see of Obama, the more they seem to like the abstract idea of Obama — a young, charismatic postracial president. The reality of Obama is something else again: a highly partisan, divisive statist, who cannot finish a speech without blaming his predecessor, mangling history, or creating yet another straw-man bogeyman. The difficulty, then, is to convince the loquacious and crowd-adoring Obama to focus instead on private fundraisers, photo-ops, sporting events, and teleprompted studio speeches. He looks a lot more presidential when he’s golfing than he does when he’s giving yet another whiny speech about why high gas prices are somebody else’s fault and not drilling is sound energy policy....

We are in a period of quiet acknowledgment that Obama’s 2009 dreams of a world tamed by hope-and-change rhetoric from a postnational American critic remain largely fantasies; we can only hope that there will be no nightmares in 2012. Obama is not quite Jimmy Carter, who retreated to the Rose Garden during the campaign of 1980 during the Iranian hostage crisis in hopes of seeming engaged while actually being flummoxed and disengaged, but he has adopted the same spirit — a virtual Rose Garden of appearing busy and on top of things, while doing little abroad that could cause turmoil, which in turn could lead to unpopularity at home over yet another messy and costly Middle East commitment....



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