People talk as if the president of the United States were omnipotent, his every wish were law. We discuss what each candidate is apt to do if elected. This careless habit leads us to utter a lot of nonsense, as if politics were just a matter of wishful thinking.
You would think that Abe Lincoln had ended slavery with a mere stroke of the pen, and that any other American president might have done so earlier, if only the whim had seized him.
Now I have little use for Barack Obama, the most leftist president this country has had for quite a spell. But at least he has enough sense to realize, as his inaugural address and other early speeches have shown, that he faces many serious obstacles to getting his way. His chief fear seems to be that he will be a scapegoat when he fails to perform the economic miracles and marvels the rabble are clamoring for. To his credit, he doesn’t advertise himself as The Decider. Most of his important decisions have already been made for him.
Long before we knew who would win the crown in 2008, it was obvious to me that our next emperor would have his work cut out for him: cleaning up the Augean horror of the last few years. And this was before the dimensions of that mess were as clear as they are now.