Smart piece by James Crabtree in February's Prospect about Obama's moving pains. According to Crabtree, Obama is (surprise, surprise) yo-yoing between embracing open-source democracy and relying on adults like Larry Summers and Hillary Clinton to authoritatively run his show. Crabtree is particularly good on exposing the gobldeygook of Obama's moralizing new media followers:
Commentators and bloggers quickly claimed this campaign model as prooffor any number of pet theories, normally about the power of the internet to change politics. Obama, so they tell us, is an "open source president" in an era when "politics is viral," who ran a campaign embodying "crowd sourcing in action." Technology gurus, like former Wired journalist Peter Leyden, speak bafflingly of how "Obama is catalysing the paradigm shift in American politics."
What Crabtree reminds us is that language matters and that vapid, pompous language generally reflects vapid, pompous thinking. And I suspect that the catalysing/paradigmatic garbage written by journalists like Leyden about Obama reflects the intellectual dodginess about the new regime in DC. As Dorothy Rabinowitz argues in the Journal this morning, Obama's vapid, pompous language is likely pretty soon to get on all of our nerves:
To hear Mr. Obama speak now on matters like the national defense is to recognize that the leader now in the White House is in every respect the person he seemed on the campaign trail: a man of immense moral certitude, prone to an abstract idealism, and pronouncements that range between the rational and the otherworldly.... That's not counting the occasional touches of pure rubbish.
Exactly. And it's those occasional touches of pure rubbish which Obama must most beware. I actually like most of Obama's ideas; it is the distastefully religious abstraction of his language that annoys me. Obama needs to bring his words down to earth. And he might begin by dropping all the infantile nonsense about open-source internet democracy and instead focus on running America from above.