Americans seem unable to tell eloquence from hype, so we have heard the incessant use of the word historic lately to describe what is, after all, a superficial change in our rulership. The news media have been groveling comically before Barack Obama, our Boy Wonder, because of his skin tone and partially African ancestry. His father was reportedly an unremarkable Kenyan sot who deserted him as a toddler and had almost no part in his formation.
This new president of ours is a virtual dark continent of a man. We really know little about him, but the vacuum in our awareness is being filled by empty superlatives and impossibly high hopes.
Mythologists are straining to draw portentous analogies between Obama, on the one hand, and Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King on the other. Obama himself encourages this by borrowing bits of these demigods’ famous phrases.
His worshippers are already eager to chisel his features into Mount Rushmore. Why wait? Americans believe profoundly in Great Presidents, who need not have accomplished anything beyond starting wars and getting shot. The media have already dragged out poor old Doris Kearns Goodwin to provide Historical Perspective. Obama’s birthday is not yet, at this writing, a federal holiday, or even a Unitarian high holy day, but it’s getting a trifle fulsome. Talk about high expectations! Hail to the Chief may have to yield to a new presidential theme, such as Magic Man.