Alex Massie

Obama: Saviour of the World?

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I suppose it must irritate liberals that the press has picked up on the conservative claim - or meme - that Barack Obama is, even by the lofty standards of Presidential candidates, rather more pleased with himself than is seemly. Here, for instance, the Washington Post's sketch-writer (actually, he's America's only sketch-writer) Dana Millbank today:

The 5:20 TBA turned out to be his adoration session with lawmakers in the Cannon Caucus Room, where even committee chairmen arrived early, as if for the State of the Union. Capitol Police cleared the halls -- just as they do for the actual president. The Secret Service hustled him in through a side door -- just as they do for the actual president.

Inside, according to a witness, he told the House members, "This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for," adding: "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

Emphasis added, of course. You might think this true, you might even think it a good thing. But no sensible person should ever say something like this about themselves. Then again, it might also be thought troubling that Obama seems to believe this himself. Rather than this sort of bragging, this might be a moment for Obama to employ some self-deprecation or some wit. If he's capable of it, of course...

UPDATE: Ben Smith reports that Obama may have been taken somewhat out of context. Still, I don't understand why he'd take such pride in what the rest of the world may think. Yes, everyone wants to be liked but there may be fewer votes in making a virtue of this sort of international acclamation than Obama thinks. Correspondingly, all his european admirers are likely to be disappointed when his presidency fails to live up to the extravagant hope and hype being invested in it. Anyway, here's what a Democratic source tells Ben Smith:

“His entire point of that riff was that the campaign IS NOT about him. [The Post] left out the important first half of the sentence, which was along the lines of: ‘It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol … .”

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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