Maureen Dowd gives a pretty good summary of the liberal perspective on public affairs on the editorial page of today’s New York Times.
Politics, you see, is really a branch of the entertainment industry. What matters is fashion and perception. George W. Bush’s foreign policy has been opposed by the international community of fashion, and by provoking its wrath, Bush has damaged the image of the United States. The decision on whom to elect president in 2008 needs to be made on image grounds.
Itâ€™s all about the magic, really.
And whether we can take a flier on this skinny guy with the strange name and braided ancestry to help us get it back.
Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France and a strong supporter of the United States, recently observed that President Bush has done such a number on our image in the world that no one will be able to restore the luster.
â€œI think the magic is over,â€ he said.
Pas si vite, mon vieux. In terms of style, the Obamas could give Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a run for her euros. …
Obama, like the preternaturally gifted young heroes in mythical tales, is still learning to channel his force. He can ensorcell when he has to, and he has viral appeal. Who else could alchemize a nuanced 40-minute speech on race into must-see YouTube viewing for 20-year-olds?
But at several crucial points in the last year, he held back when he should have poured on, leaving his nemesis around to damage him further.
Obama has social engineering plans as ambitious, in their own way, as the Bush administrationâ€™s failed social engineering plans to change the psyche of America and the Middle East.
â€œI think the president needs to use the bully pulpit to change our culture,â€ he said Thursday, talking energy at a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser in Manhattan. â€œWe are a wasteful culture. Itâ€™s always been that way because of our history. We do everything big.â€
He wants to make government â€œcoolâ€ again. He wants to banish the red-blue culture of conflict on TV and in Washington. And he wants to make the country healthier, thinner and smarter. â€œI want our students learning art and music and science and poetry,â€ he says, in a crowd-pleasing line.
From image flows practical effect, in Dowd’s fantasy. All you have to do is elect this season’s smooth-talking democrat, and abracadabra! all over America, healthier and thinner children are learning “art and music and science and poetry.” The bitter divisions of race and class, city and country, left and right vanish overnight. Republican deer-hunters need only listen to the latest Obama speech on YouTube, and they are instantly converted into tree-hugging socialist supporters of Sarah Brady. The entire country, from sea to shining sea, is magically transformed into one super-sized version of Berkeley, California.
For a liberal, it must be pretty to think so.