President Obama's speech to the United Nations has been called naive and even "post-American." It was something else, as well: the most extravagant excursion into self-worship we have yet seen in an American leader.
Beware of politicians who claim to be "humbled by the responsibility the American people have placed upon me." It's a neon sign flashing the opposite. And sure enough, in almost the next sentence, the president allowed that "I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world." Really? The whole world pulses with hope and expectation because Obama is president? People in Amsterdam, Sao Paulo and Taipei have a spring in their step because an Illinois Democrat won the White House?
Well, yes, he says, but it's not "about me," rather it's a reflection of dissatisfaction with the "status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences and outpaced by our problems." Oh, yes, and everyone around the world was electrified by Obama's campaign slogan because these expectations "are also rooted in hope. The hope that real change is possible and the hope that America will be a leader in bringing about such change."
Obama is, we are told, the smartest man to sit in the Oval in many a year. And yet he is capable of truly flabbergasting fatuities like this: "In this hall, we come from many places, but we share a common future." You don't say? That's right up there with Warren Harding's declaration that "the future lies before us."
Obama announced that we no longer "have the luxury of indulging our differences to the exclusion of the work that we must do together. I have carried this message from London to Ankara, from Port of Spain to Moscow, from Accra to Cairo, and it is what I will speak about today." Note the personal pronoun. But what message has this evangelist carried to all these world capitals? That hope and change have been vouchsafed to the fallen world in the person of Barack Obama?
During last year's campaign, Michelle Obama and her defenders insisted that her statement "For the first time in my adult life I'm proud of my country" (for supporting her husband) was unfairly wrenched from its context. Maybe, though she said it more than once.