David Brooks on Obama: This isn't eloquence, it's Disney

Brutal, not just because Brooks is often used as a proxy for “reasonable conservative” opinion but because he’s gone to Kmiec-esque lengths in the past to spin for Obama. No more. After 16 months on an all-ice-cream diet, he’s finally ready to throw up.

Obama speeches almost always have the same narrative arc. Some problem threatens. The odds are against the forces of righteousness. But then people of good faith unite and walls come tumbling down. Obama used the word “walls” 16 times in the Berlin speech, and in 11 of those cases, he was talking about walls coming down…

When I first heard this sort of radically optimistic speech in Iowa, I have to confess my American soul was stirred. It seemed like the overture for a new yet quintessentially American campaign.

But now it is more than half a year on, and the post-partisanship of Iowa has given way to the post-nationalism of Berlin, and it turns out that the vague overture is the entire symphony. The golden rhetoric impresses less, the evasion of hard choices strikes one more…

[H]e has grown accustomed to putting on this sort of saccharine show for the rock concert masses, and in Berlin his act jumped the shark. His words drift far from reality, and not only when talking about the Senate Banking Committee. His Berlin Victory Column treacle would have made [Reinhold] Niebuhr sick to his stomach.

Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney.

So it is, so it is. It amazes me that the media still devotes so much energy to Obama’s alleged rhetorical brilliance, which is easily disproved, yet so comparatively little to his organizational brilliance, a virtue that might help sell him to undecided voters who are worried that he’s too much of a neophyte to run an administration. The Clinton machine and the McCain, er, contraption had problems internally and made major mistakes (the difference being, McCain recovered from his); not so Team Barry. You’d think that would be a key talking point for the press, but they’re too busy rhapsodizing over the glowing idiocy of “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Our readers like to counter that if Obama’s doing so well, how come his lead in the polls is so small? To which I reply, how is it we’re losing to the political equivalent of a Disney character in the first place?

But never mind that. The more the media pushes the meme of Obama the Orator, the more people like Brooks will respond to the hype by declaring the emperor to have no clothes, and the more substantive McCain, hapless though he often appears, will look by comparison. So please — more major speeches, stat. Exit quotation: “It was a sermon and an unsuccessful one at that. The intellectual gulf between him and John F. Kennedy could not be overlooked. Apart from the niceties and talk about Berliners’ love of freedom, there wasn’t a single original thought… In America the demystification process of the candidate has already begun and continues.”

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