Back then he was merely smart, a political prodigy who could use pigment to obscure his inner geekiness. Above all, he wasn't a member of the Torture Party of Limbaugh.
Now though ...
Cuddlin' With Evil / Obama shakes hands with people we're supposed to hate. Are we all going to die? (Morford)I know that anyone who attains the presidency must, by historical precedent, be at least half-mad.
... Obama was the leader to watch because he did that most rare of things among major world leaders: He listened. More than that, he heard. More than that, he did not insult, demean, degrade, patronize, scold. He shook hands and spoke cordially with everyone in the room, including supposed 'enemies' like Hugo Chavez, a clever pipsqueak of an America-hating media slut who is zero threat to the U.S. but who normally dominates the TV cameras anyway, but who was so disarmed by Obama's effortless, high-road calm that he suddenly had no footing, no audience, no stage from which to bluster and spit. Go figure.
As reported by the Miami Herald:
"[Obama] listened with an extraordinary patience, and he was intellectually elegant in his responses." - Chilean Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez
"I can't recall a U.S. president who has sustained such an open-minded dialogue with the region." - Argentinean Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana
Naturally, all this articulate, respectful diplomacy means one of two things.
One: We are blindly kowtowing to all sorts of scummy, evil forces of the underworld and undermining America's godlike supremacy, and soon will be overrun by drug lords and baby rapists and fat, sweaty, cigar-chomping socialists who love to coddle baby-raping drug lords. This is known as the "Fox News angle." Also known as the "Hysteria Special," and also, simply, "The Limbaugh."
Option two: We are about to make extraordinary progress in the world, as we set a new tone of intelligent cooperation in our foreign policy, restoring much of the respect and international goodwill Bush so grossly destroyed, as we finally step back up to the adult's table, not as the domineering father figure everyone fears for his drunken, violent tirades, but as the kind of elegant intellect and influential peacemaker everyone wants to emulate.
That last thing? About emulation? I think that's the most potentially transformative thing of all.
See, we all know the idea of how Obama's raising everyone's game. It's barely 100 days in and already people speak glowingly of the Age of Obama, how the calm, constructive vibe he exudes like a beacon is actually changing people's everyday behaviors, redirecting our attention from violence and rancor and overconsumption toward something a little bit lighter, smarter, less fear obsessed, more respectful or even just simply nicer. The bastard...
Even so ... even so. We are far, far more fortunate than we deserve.