Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Unstated Embarrassment"

Today Fouad Ajami attempts to measure how America could have made Barack Obama president. Link here.

His money quote: "There is a widespread sense of unstated embarrassment that a political majority, if only for a moment, fell for the promise of an untested redeemer-- a belief alien to the temperament of so practical and sober a nation."

When we write the history of the Obama ascent and descent there will surely be plenty of embarrassment to go around.

It should not be surprising that academic intellectuals fell for Obama. He is just like them; in voting for him they were voting for themselves. At least, they are in touch with their narcissism.

Nor is it surprising that that union members should have fallen for Obama. He has been their champion, their defender, and, for now, their savior.

The surprise is that Wall Street bankers and corporate executives, intelligent and savvy individuals, could have taken leave of their rational faculties and fallen for a narrative of redemption and salvation.

Especially when not a one of them would ever have considered Barack Obama a candidate to run their companies.

What does it all mean? It means that decades worth of cultural warfare persuaded no small number of people that sobriety, temperance, and practicality were alien values, to be rejected, not embraced. 

It's going to take more than a little embarrassment to get us out of the mess we have just allowed ourselves to be duped into. Unstated embarrassment is a start, but only a start. I think we could do with a little stated embarrassment.

1 comment:

Ralph said...

Intellectuals, union members and Wall Street types share something with the youth and underclass, who also voted for Obama. I would make the case that they are all in what Eric Hoffer describes in "the True Believer" as the frustrated; those who do not truly feel good about themselves, that their lives are spoiled (ruined), and collectively fell under the spell of losing themselves in a percieved higher cause.

There is a big difference between a Wall Street type and a person who starts and runs a small business. Most Wall Street types are employees, not businessmen.