The most dismal thing about that David Brooks column conceding that "yes, I'm a sap [for Obama]... remember, I'm a sap... as you know, I'm a sap" was the headline his New York Times editors chose to append to it: "Obama Rejects Obamaism."
In other words, even in a column remorselessly cataloguing how one of its smartest smart guys had been repeatedly suckered by Obama on jobs, on Medicare, on deficits, on tax reform, etc, The New York Times chose to insist that there is still something called "Obamaism" – prudent, centrist, responsible – that for some perverse reason the man for whom this political philosophy is named insists on betraying, 24/7, week in, month out, spring, summer, autumn, tax season. You can set your clock by Obama's rejection of "Obamaism."
That's because there's no such thing. There never was. "Obamaism" was the Emperor's new centrism: To a fool such as your average talk-radio host, His Majesty appears to be a man of minimal accomplishments other than self-promotion marinated in a radical faculty-lounge view of the world and the role of government. But, to a wise man such as your average presidential historian or New York Times columnist, he is the smartest guy ever to become president.
In part, this is a natural extension of an ever more conformist and unrepresentative establishment's view of where "the center" is. On issues from abortion to climate change, a Times man or Hollywood activist or media professor's notion of "centrism" is well to the left of where American opinion is. That's one reason why a supposedly "center-right" nation has wound up regulated into sclerosis, drowning in debt and embarking on its last decade as the world's leading economy.
But in the case of Obama the chasm between soft, seductive, politico-media "centrism" and hard, grim reality is too big to bridge, and getting wider all the time.Mightn't we call it "a bridge too far"?