No president in my lifetime has fallen from heaven to earth as rapidly as President Obama. Others have lost popularity and lost control of Congress, but none fell from such a height. Who can forget the rapturous cries of joy when he was elected in 2008? Who can forget all those predictions of a ‘transformational presidency,’ hailing the one term Senator from Illinois as a new Lincoln, a new FDR, and (my personal favorite) the ‘Democratic Reagan’?
Some of this was a natural pride that virtually the entire country felt at the election of our first African-American President. Slaves helped build the Capitol building; to see a black man take the oath of office on those steps was a great historic moment — a visible sign of healing and grace. America’s first black President means something regardless of politics and party to everyone in this country and even to everyone in the world. There was bound to be a contrast between the transcendence that the President represents and the cruel reality of ordinary politics into which he immediately and necessarily plunged.