Obama: The fine line between optimism and hubris

Rarely if ever has anyone been “so roundly criticized for such grievous offenses as giving excellent speeches and urging people of different backgrounds to come together," said Bob Herbert in The New York Times.

Barack Obama no longer will settle for being president, said Rex Murphy in the Toronto Globe and Mail. The job, apparently, is now beneath him. During the last leg of his Obama-palooza world tour last week, the sublimely self-assured Democratic nominee drew huge crowds of enraptured European admirers and star-struck prime ministers and presidents, and generally presented himself “as some combination of emperor and rock star.” Obama’s hubris hit its apex at a massive rally before 200,000 people in Berlin. Declaring himself “a fellow citizen of the world,” Obama apologized for past U.S. misdeeds (“I know my country has not perfected itself”) while calling for a new era of international cooperation in which religious, racial, and national animosities would disappear. “People of Berlin—people of the world—this is our moment!” he declared. Maybe this sort of jaw-dropping presumption will propel Obama to the White House, said Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post. But given his lack of experience and accomplishments, he may simply be encouraging millions of voters to ask: “Who does he think he is?”

As a conservative who has sometimes admired Obama’s optimism, said David Brooks in The New York Times, I’m a bit aghast myself. Before his messiah complex set in, Obama used to express a sophisticated awareness “that history is tragic and ironic and every political choice is tainted in some way.” Contrast that to Obama’s Disneyesque vision in Berlin of a world in which people inspired by his wonderfulness would link hands across borders and ideologies to magically alleviate hunger, genocide, global warming, and all other manner of human nastiness. This “hazy and unbounded utopianism” is doomed to fail, said National Review Online in an editorial, since it defies the selfishness of human nature. Europeans may applaud his call for international unity now. Just try, though, to get them to commit money or troops to Afghanistan or Darfur.

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