President Obama will hold a press conference today in the wake of last night’s tidal wave of Republican Senate and Congressional victories. His reality-distortion field will be in overdrive; the humiliating defeat of an election defined almost entirely by opposition to his agenda will be bullishly reinterpreted as an opportunity for America to realize — once again — just how much they’ve disappointed him.
First, you’ll see his barely-contained contempt for the voters. After the briefest nod to their unhappiness, they’ll be described as angry, disaffected, and easily fooled by dark money and deceptive television ads. If only America was smart enough to understand his vision. If only they had his advantages of godlike wisdom and preternatural intelligence they’d understand what a terrible mistake they’ve just made. He’ll be very sad for them, really.
Next, he’ll punch the Washington media’s buttons with his usual phony construct of “I’m willing to work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, to get things done for this country.” Anyone, that is, except those mouth-breathing, cousin-marrying, snake-handling, slack-jawed, red-state yokels with bad suits and state-college educations. He’ll listen to good ideas, as long as they precisely match his own faculty-lounge vision of technocratic government uber alles. He’ll be open to reforms, except anything to do with the unsullied perfection of Obamacare or any other part of his regulatory overstate. He’ll certainly be willing to talk about the conduct of our foreign and military operations, as long as we remain constrained by his minimalist vision of American interests in the world, and continue to dishearten our allies and comfort our enemies.
What you won’t see in Barack Obama’s eyes or language is real understanding. He’ll say the words the Acela Media expects, and go through the motions at the press conference, but it will be empty of any true realization that this election was a brutal national referendum on his policies and his leadership. This President lacks the fundamental self-awareness of how his actions (and inaction) brought this day upon him. Obama has always been the student with the gold-star sticker. He’s been told he was brilliant, special, and historic at every inflection point in his life. As a candidate — and as president — he was given every gift, extended every latitude, and cradled in the loving embrace of a media simultaneously enraptured by his charisma and terrified of criticizing the first black President in even the mildest terms.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. He’s not entirely without self-awareness. Listen closely to Obama’s words today, and you will note one bitter realization: in seven years, not since that moment on the steps of the courthouse in Springfield, Illinois where he became the political “It Guy” of the American media, cultural, and political worlds, has the spotlight ever shifted away from him. He’s still on the stage, and he still has lines to read, but Hillary Clinton will now consume every warm, bright ounce of adoration and attention from the same people who once genuflected before him and gushed over his every word.
Obama now stands in the cold, dark wings of the stage of American political history with other failed Presidents. Today is the last day of Barack Obama’s true power. He’ll still be able to cause trouble for the next two years, but his power has been drained from him in the most painful and fundamental way, at the hands of the voters he has always viewed with such disdain.