woody zimmermann 120With the Obama presidency drawing to a close, historians will soon be casting about for ways to describe it with metaphor, simile or clever slogans. I make no claim to being a historian, but I am certainly a legitimate observer of how this historic (some might say “hysteric”) presidency has affected American culture, business, government, national defense and international reputation.

Everywhere I go these days I hear people asking the same questions about President Obama: What’s up with him? Is he crazy? Is he stupid? Is he a foreign agent? People are asking these questions because they can’t understand where he is going on issues foreign and domestic.

I don’t think Mr. Obama is any of these. He’s neither crazy nor stupid; nor has he been inserted by infamous powers to subvert the country. Instead, my theory is that the entire raison d'être – the motivating force of his presidency – is chimera.

Chimera is a $5 word which the dictionary defines as “something that exists only in the imagination and is not possible in reality.” (The word derives from the name of a monster in Greek mythology that breathed fire and had a lion's head, a goat's body, and a snake's tail.) I believe the term describes pretty well the inspiration for a presidency that will be long-discussed by historians, wistfully recalled by media hustlers (who loved the great copy it furnished), and gratefully forgotten by millions of Americans who will need years of economic and governmental stability to dig their way out of the mess that The One made for them. (Other than that, I think they loved the guy…)

As I see it, the mysterious figure of Barack Hussein Obama came out of nowhere and sailed into office on a magic carpet consisting of four great chimeras. The first was the hoary leftist dream that the American people truly wanted liberalism as their cultural and governmental lodestar and that the whole country was eagerly waiting for a messiah to implement it. However, the Obama gang was shrewd enough to conceal that socialist dream during his triumphal campaign. Instead of details, Mr. Obama delivered vague, soaring rhetoric about “hope and change” and “fundamentally transforming” the country.

Ordinary people – worried about a flailing national economy and their own shaky finances – eagerly interpreted Mr. Obama’s “change” to mean that he would address their personal concerns. Journalists – who should have been delving into what this virtually unknown shaman meant by “fundamental transformation” – instead furnished fawning descriptions of his impeccably tailored suits or (in one notable case) an account of the “thrill” that ran up a reporter’s leg when he heard this dazzling candidate speak. Some panting lapdogs called Mr. Obama “the smartest man in the world;” others said he might be “the smartest man who ever lived.” (Like, wow! Who needed to dig any deeper?)

Worse than being completely useless during the 2008 campaign, print and broadcast media enabled and actively promoted one of the greatest con-jobs in American electoral history. This gross dereliction of duty inflicted a wound on the Mainstream Media from which they might never recover. It may be fatal.

A few pundits dared to suggest that Mr. Obama was not all that he seemed, or that he was “going for the moron vote” by advocating policies contrary to the interests of ordinary working folks. For their impudence they were mocked, branded as racists, or actually subjected to journalistic “investigation” (using the term loosely).

An Ohio man, dubbed “Joe the Plumber” by reporters, got more thorough vetting than Mr. Obama got after he drew the candidate, in an unguarded moment, into revealing his socialist intentions. Reporters in Mr. Obama’s protective cordon were outraged. This simply wasn’t done. For his breach of etiquette, Joe the Plumber got the “full monte,” as reporters dug into (and publicized) his background, business, taxes, dating history, school-misbehavior, and personal finances.

(In my own humble case, some readers denounced me as un-Christian for questioning Mr. Obama’s advocacy of “social justice” – another sacrosanct pillar of the liberal faith that amounts to taking away the substance of some and giving it to others who “need it more.”) [1]

Easily brushing aside these few objections, Mr. Obama swept gloriously into the presidency – carefully guarded by worshipful media, and aided by obsequious pols who avoided any criticism for fear of being called a racist. Mr. Obama’s skin-pigmentation made him invulnerable to any critique. He gained the White House with the chimera of Americans’ thirst for liberal governance in complete control. At first, most Americans were unaware of it. Those who knew stayed mum.

Somewhere along the way, a related chimera elbowed its way into the Obama imagination. This was the seductive conviction that he was uniquely gifted to accomplish this great transformation of the country. Did he start believing those glowing claims that he was the smartest man in the world (or the smartest man who ever lived)? Or did he always think this about himself? We’ll never know. But whatever the chimera’s origin, our dazzling young leader was clearly convinced that only he could accomplish this historic mission.

A president’s policies controlled by a chimera – i.e., an imagination that’s possible only in his mind – is a very serious matter, of course. It’s a total disconnection from reality. But a chimera of one’s superiority is especially dangerous. A really smart man knows that there’s always somebody smarter than he is. If he’s a leader, he knows that his own will and brain-power are not enough. He can’t go it alone, so he looks for other smart people and puts them on his team.

But a leader who thinks he’s smarter than everybody else is headed for big trouble. That alluring chimera becomes an incubus that draws the life out of his administration by keeping him from being helped by the smart people he needs. I believe this chimera has hobbled Mr. Obama’s government from the very start, virtually guaranteeing its failure

In the arena of foreign affairs, three additional chimeras have joined the superiority-chimera as Mr. Obama’s guiding lights. The first is the conviction that Muslims are fair, reasonable people who just want to live in peace and harmony with others. The second is an equally strong conviction that the USA is the “world’s bully” that must be cut down a pegs or two. And the third is a belief that immigrants will save us. Mr. Obama’s entire foreign policy becomes entirely clear when the influence of these chimeras is recognized. It all boils down to a four-part formula: “Muslims good; USA bad; immigrants a must; Obama knows best.”

Is Mr. Obama really a Muslim? Does he hate the USA? Is he a kind of Manchurian Candidate sent in to defeat us? In order: I don’t know; I don’t think so; and probably not. I always give a man the benefit of the doubt, even when the evidence seems to go against him. I do believe Mr. Obama is a patriot, not a traitor. But he really thinks he is helping the country by acting as he has over these seven years. He is certain that his path is the right one – for us and for the world. His faith in those chimeras is absolute. They are his reality.

Can anything shake Mr. Obama’s faith in these ruling chimeras? Who knows? Would an event like Iran atomic-bombing Israel (or maybe even the USA) make him reconsider his “peace-loving Muslims” chimera? Would a total collapse of our economy convince him that liberal socialism is a flawed system that can never work? Might he change his mind about immigrants if he found that they are mostly becoming Republicans? Could he ever see that he is not the smartest man who ever lived? I answer ‘I don’t know’ to all of these. (But I doubt it, I doubt it, maybe, and I doubt it.)

Mr. Obama’s entire life-experience has convinced him that those chimeras are right. He has never lost an election. He knows he is on the correct path. When something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. Really, if the whole country collapsed, I believe he would blame either Republicans or subordinates who didn’t implement his inspired policies correctly. “Infamous powers” (who have always worked against him) would also be blamed – or perhaps some internet video that makes fun of The Prophet. That Big Media let him get away with these absurd evasions speaks volumes about their political slant.

Many – hopefully most – Americans now understand that they made a huge mistake when they listened to the siren song of a silver-tongued stranger wearing $2000 Armani suits. Anybody can make a mistake, but learning from your mistakes is the great thing. Let’s try not to repeat the same error in judgment this year. The stakes are very high. The country is strong, but it’s not indestructible. We need to be wise.


[1] See “Going for the Moron Vote,” 24 June 2008 - http://ahherald.com/columns-list/at-large/4259-going-for-the-moron-vote