The Shield Cracks

When the hermetic, perfect world created in 2008 came into being, the Lightbringer at its center was protected from the moment of his nomination in a kind of numinous cloud of cultural, media and elite opinion protection.

Jokes about Obama, well…they just weren’t funny. “It’s hard to make fun of Obama in general because he’s a cool character,” said Jimmy Kimmel. Noah Rothman called it “Obama’s prohibitive coolness.”

Criticism of his policies and politics were obviously racist in nature…what other explanation could possibly obtain? Mockery of his pomposity, his flagrant sense of personal grandeur, his Administration-as-personality-cult was a product of Republican sour grapes (and, duh, racism).

Even the mild comedic hits on Obama in popular culture were anodyne, bloodless things and mostly along the themes of his coolness, his intellect, his perfection. He was the straight man to the GOP foil.  He was the cool kid in the room full of conservative dorks.  One famous incident of self-editing to protect the image of President Cool was a spiked SNL skit.

What strikes me about the New Yorker cover is that it not only clearly takes Obama down several pegs, but references the Eastwood moment of the RNC convention, which we were assured by our betters for several weeks was a disaster for the Romney campaign. Think about it: the New Yorker is mocking Barack Obama using an image from a gag from the Republican National Convention.

It’s a singularity of irony, they just don’t know it.

The cracks in the Acela Corridor’s Barack Protection Protocol are showing because Obama’s most compelling attribute was the belief that his intellectual prowess is unmatched by any President, perhaps any mortal.  A cornerstone of their faith in him was always that Barack Obama’s intellectual firepower could be deployed at will, and destroy Mitt Romney at a time and place of the President’s choosing.

What they saw Wednesday night wasn’t the demigod they’ve protected like so many cultural Myrmidons, but a stammering, detached, utterly outclassed man hoisted on the petard of his own laziness and incuriousity. The damage to their perception of him isn’t enough to draw them to Romney, but in their post-modern, super-ironic world, the moment Obama showed weakness, he became a legitimate target.

The cover of the New Yorker — one of the tentpoles of respectable liberalism and elite opinion — is a signifier of the scope of Obama’s failure this week. 

As the dozens of snarky articles, brutal editorial cartoons, late night comedy shows taking new and unaccustomed shots at Obama (I’m not counting Chris Matthews and his epic rant) build up a certain cultural momentum, the sense that Obama’s failings are suddenly funny is a deadly virus in the bloodstream of liberal opinion.

Barack Obama is a man of abundantly evident self-regard.  The growing sound of mockery and derision must be painful to him, especially coming from the unexpected quarters of his erstwhile allies. Once the mockery starts, it’s hard to stop.  Ask Bill Clinton.

The clues of an Obama meltdown in high-, low- and even pop-culture tell me that the next debates for Obama aren’t just consequential: they’re existential.

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  1. jt
    Rick Wilson:

    Criticism of his policies and politics wereobviouslyracist in nature…what other explanation couldpossiblyobtain?

    Lefties are offended that Romney would speak to the President this way. On lefty talk radio the things that I have heard are along the lines of:

    • Romney cheated because he was lying all the way through – followed by examples of “lies”.

    • Obama was looking down because he was afraid he would burst out laughing at Romney’s lies.
    • Where was Lehrer? He let Romney get away with his lies.
    • I was appalled at Romney comparing the President to his “boys”. He was calling the President “boy”. Racist!!!
    • Priorities are where people put their money – Romney puts his in the Cayman Islands.
    • Romney was an aggressive bully. Obama was reserved, polite, presidential.

    The threat is that we’ll see a “feistier Obama” next time. This is dangerous for Obama. Judging by his latest speeches he’s likely to come across as a failed, incompetent President slinging mud at a smart, sensible, accomplished man. His base and probably his instincts are pushing him to be nastier since he has few accomplishments to run on. Bye-bye moderates and undecideds.

  2. Dudley

    The Emperor is butt nekkid!

  3. HoosierDaddy
    Dudley: The Emperor is butt nekkid! · 0 minutes ago

    Biden knows it, that’s why he could comment authoritatively on the size of his stick.

  4. ChrisC

    I agree that the New Yorker cover is shocking – kind of like having a Sarah Palin editorial on in the NYT.  But it is not possible to overstate how deeply held ideas, like Obama’s perfection, are held by liberal true believers.  Having worked in higher education, I have met liberal professors who were unabashed fans of Stalin – an extreme example of hanging on to failed leftist ideas, to be sure.   It’s wound up in the fiber of their being and one bad debate performance is not going to pry it loose.

  5. Cuban Mike
    One of the throng of stalwart liberals at work recommended a New Yorker article on child rearing a few months back, my daughter was only weeks old then.  I scoffed at the suggestion, to his bewilderment.  Should I reconsider given the latest cover?  Nah. On a related note, the gentleman in question thought Clint’s empty chair skit was just plain awful and not the least bit funny.  Wonder if he finally gets the joke?   
  6. HerrForce1

    In Obama terms & perception, these debates are just bumps in the road.

  7. At The Rubicon
    Dave Carter

    You’re not alone at all.  But I wouldn’t depend on Obama’s rattle alone.  Obama will likely be an angry customer next time, and Governor Romney would be well served to be at least as prepared next time as he was last Wednesday. 

    This strategy of being well prepared is one that all successful business people understand: He who is best prepared wins.

    It was abundantly clear Wednesday night that Mitt is inside Obama’s OODA loop. Watching Mitt’s face, you could see that he was prepared for everything that Obama said and already had his prepared response ready long before Obama finished speaking.  Mitt was well-prepared.  I have no doubt that Mitt is STILL inside Teh Wan’s head and will be as equally prepared next time as well.

  8. HeartofAmerica
    RightinChicago: WOW That was the most finely written post I have ever read on Ricochet. I concur wholeheartedly. · 6 hours ago

    I agree. This post nails it. I might just have to “borrow” it.

  9. Larry3435

    Apparently, Obama believes he is running against the caricature of Mitt Romney made up by his campaign. I think he was shocked that the guy on stage with him was the actual Mitt Romney, as opposed to the fantasy that Obama calls the “real” Mitt Romney. After all, Romney’s positions can’t be what Romney says they are. Romney’s “real” positions are the ones that appear in Obama’s teleprompter. I think we all knew that Obama wants the world to see him only through the window of his teleprompter, but I was unaware until now that he only sees the world back through that same window.

  10. mezzrow

    “No pressure.”

  11. Dave Carter
    C

    Brilliantly stated, sir.   As for Barack Obama, the little demigod has become mortal.  Somehow I doubt we’ll be seeing many of those halo pictures that used to dot the landscape of magazine racks.  

  12. ConservativeWanderer

    Am I alone in hoping that the end of the adulation will rattle Obama to the point where he does even worse in the next debates, as opposed to better?

  13. Dave Carter
    C
    ConservativeWanderer: Am I alone in hoping that the end of the adulation will rattle Obama to the point where he does even worse in the next debates, as opposed to better? · 2 minutes ago

    You’re not alone at all.  But I wouldn’t depend on Obama’s rattle alone.  Obama will likely be an angry customer next time, and Governor Romney would be well served to be at least as prepared next time as he was last Wednesday.  

  14. ConservativeWanderer
    Dave Carter

    ConservativeWanderer: Am I alone in hoping that the end of the adulation will rattle Obama to the point where he does even worse in the next debates, as opposed to better? · 2 minutes ago

    You’re not alone at all.  But I wouldn’t depend on Obama’s rattle alone.  Obama will likely be an angry customer next time, and Governor Romney would be well served to be at least as prepared next time as he was last Wednesday.   · 0 minutes ago

    Angry people make mistakes. I would hope Mitt is ready to knock Barack’s errors out of the park.

  15. DocJay

    I’m hoping he messes up even worse.   The comedy comes when the narcissists world falls apart.   I’m positive he’s blamed his inner circle for his own shortcomings as admitting he’s wrong isn’t in his makeup. 

    If he really loses it then his book and speaking deals will take a hit.  Sweet justice.

  16. WI Con

    I’d be interested to read about the debate preparation process from both camps. One would (or should) be pushed on one’s own views, exposed to the other sides views – be willing to be ‘dressed down’, roughed up & mocked.

    Considering that, what do you think those sessions looked like for Obama. Does anyone really think Kerry was able to do that, or did they just talk about what a joke those folks in the GOP are? They are so insulated/protected that they succumb very quickly when not in a protected environment.

  17. Rick Wilson
    C

    Thank you! The halo pics were always a favorite of mine. Unsubtle, much?

    Dave Carter: Brilliantly stated, sir.   As for Barack Obama, the little demigod has become mortal.  Somehow I doubt we’ll be seeing many of those halo pictures that used to dot the landscape of magazine racks.   · 31 minutes ago

    Edited 29 minutes ago

  18. Rick Wilson
    C

    From your lips to Valerie Jarrett’s ear.

    ConservativeWanderer: Am I alone in hoping that the end of the adulation will rattle Obama to the point where he does even worse in the next debates, as opposed to better? · 30 minutes ago

  19. Rick Wilson
    C

    Indeed…remember, Obama is a brand, not just a man.

    DocJay: I’m hoping he messes up even worse.   The comedy comes when the narcissists world falls apart.   I’m positive he’s blamed his inner circle for his own shortcomings as admitting he’s wrong isn’t in his makeup. 

    If he really loses it then his book and speaking deals will take a hit.  Sweet justice. · 13 minutes ago

  20. HoosierDaddy

    Don’t forget that the Newsweek cover story didn’t seem to hurt Obama at all. And none of the criticism from the left after the debate questions Obama’s ideas, only that he didn’t fight back against Romney’s “lies”.

    Not a single democrat or undecided voter I’m aware of was influenced by the Ferguson story.

    I don’t think there has been a crack in Obama’s media shield. His poor performance has rallied them to demand that he improve by merely returning to his true self, and rallying themselves to the new narrative that everything Romney says is a lie.

    The place to look for cracks is in the ‘downticket’ races.