“Aside from his mom jeans, tiny feet, and short-stride shuffle, Romney is a dream candidate. On paper, at least. He’s a good family man, a pillar of his community, and he has a résumé thick with business and political accomplishments. In the flesh, though, he appears to be missing the gene that makes someone interesting. Or engaging. Obama, on the other hand, comes across as a brainy, slightly aloof groovester. Like Romney, he is a good family man. Plus, he has one hell of a life narrative and, to the objective observer, a solid track record over the past four years. But for a man who so inspired hope in 2008, Obama has fallen short on selling himself and his achievements. He’s failed to do what the marketers advise all successful people to do these days—brand himself.”
I love that line about “a solid track record”, which nicely overlooks the high unemployment (not fully reflected in the official data), Keystone, Solyndra, the healthcare “reforms”; Libya, the GM bailout, the mess of Dodd-Frank, “You didn’t build that”; Fast and Furious; the refusal to look seriously at the debt/deficit problem apart from talk about tax hikes….
Why do I bother looking at the thoughts of a person such as Carter? For a start, it is good to regularly check what such people think. Like it or not, these people reflect a powerful strand of opinion that exists in Big Media, in the academic world, among policymakers, and so forth. And he is sufficiently plausible to have a level of credibility: not all his views are daft. For instance, he is right, later in the article, to point out that the Obama administration has been pretty easy on the big banks.
A problem with publications such as VF and the people who read them is that they often get swept up in the whole “glamour” of power, just as they do with the glamour of actors, business tycoons, sportsfolk and so on. And for all that they claim to be cynical, cold-eyed observers of such people, frequently putting the boot in to certain targets, at core there is a remarkably starry-eyed belief that only if we are governed by very cool, supposedly clever, people such as us, that all will be well. It is a conceit that seems to take a long time to die.
Maybe Mr Carter should read Gene Healy’s book about the “Cult of the Presidency”.
And a question that such people should ask themselves is this: if Obama has such a “solid record”, how come there is a chance he is going to lose next week, and why is this supposed genius at connecting with the people not doing so today? Why has this combination of Cicero, Jesus and Jefferson failed to work the magic this time around? But to ask such a question, and deal with the answers, is probably a step too far for Graydon Carter.