So I could say my extended absence has been due to our moving and unpacking all gazillion boxes (which have been in storage for two years) and deciding where everything should go (should the dining room table go here or here?) and finishing up uncompleted house projects (yes, I do need a closet) and becoming more involved in local “happenings”—and that would all be true.
But I could also say that it has been due to a slight feeling of unreality about the presidential election, and because I haven’t had the time (because of the move) to think this feeling through, I haven’t had a clear direction. And then I read Ace and everything fell into place:
Let me suggest something that many conservatives realized after the debate: Obama did not do that badly. For Obama. He was the same listless, droning, exhausted-of-ideas scold we have seen for at least two years now (and maybe three).
He was Obama. This is what he is. He is not quick-witted. He is not, as I think I saw Mickey Kaus note, a wonk. He has never been a wonk, a detailed-policy guy.
He is a guy who speaks vacuously of hopes and dreams and change and fairness.
He always has been.
The problem, for the liberals, is not Obama. This is what you bought. This is your guy. It wasn’t his A game, but it was something close to his B+ game.
The problem was Romney, who was commanding, fluent, reasonable, articulate, sharp-witted, warm, occasionally funny, full of ideas, full of facts, full of thoughtful, detailed criticisms of Obama policy (who the hell expected him to bring up, as an afterthought, Dodd-Frank’s failure to specify what a “reasonably qualified” mortgage applicant was, and how that chilled lending? Obama sure didn’t!), and, therefore, ultimately, full of qualification for the job and yes, full of gravitas.
That’s the problem.
Not Obama. I repeat: This is who Obama is. He has never been this brilliant intellect and keen policy analysts liberals have, in their BubbleWorld, dreamed him as.
The problem is not that Obama is or was awful. The problem is that he is what he always is — adequate and hardly ever more — and Romney is actually on top of things, an accomplished executive with a winner’s thirst for victory an an A-student’s understanding of what victory requires.
So part of the extreme emotional deflation of people like Sullivan — who only a few years ago called me a “frothing Caesarist” (I take that to mean a lickspittle for a Man on a White Horse) — is due to their having invented in their minds a conquering hero, an Eternal Champion, a Mussolini-like figure of incredible prowess in all matters including sexual (“Mussolini breaks a new horse every day, and a new woman every night,” an old Fascist saying went).
And he’s never been that. He’s been a very average politician, whose only above-average skill is giving a scripted, TelePrompTed address to people who already support him.
So for people like Sullivan, this is a bit of a bitchslap to their entire fantasy worldview, the day they saw Obama As What He Is rather than What They Fantasized Him To Be.
And they’re shocked by this. They feel their psychical mooring-lines stretching to the break.
This is partly Obama’s fault, of course. He encouraged this.
But it is much, much more the fault of people who pride themselves on being skeptical realists who permitted their minds to run to the magical and to the (frankly, blasphemously) religious….
The fusion of religion and politics has in fact been every bit as deleterious as the liberals always warned us.
It’s just that they were the ones who actually fused God and President.
I long for the days when elections were not about Salvation, and the Press Corps were not Acolytes, each vying to prove their devotion unto their Prophet….