So argues Matthew Continetti at the Free Beacon, and not without justification. In 2008, Barack Obama was a rock star, taking the political world by storm and filling arenas across the country — and even in Germany. Four years later, Obama has a tough time filling high-school gyms, prompting Continetti to make a comparison to a spoof of rock-star decline:
The most telling moment of the campaign this week was not Mitt Romney or Joe Biden’s speech to the NAACP convention, but President Obama’s Tuesday appearance in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nor was it the content of Obama’s message that made his utterances noteworthy. It was the small venue: yet another community college. Now, Kirkwood Community College is no doubt a fine place, but Sports Authority Field at Mile High it is not. And one is unlikely to come across a better indicator of presidential shrinkage.
The White House took desperate pains to note that the president talked to an “overflow crowd.” What it did not mention was that an overflow crowd in a community college gym could not fill the seats in, say, the OSU stadium. There was a time when Obama regaled audiences of 30,000, 75,000, 80,000 people. Now he speaks to true believers at high schools. By the end of the campaign he may well find himself, like Spinal Tap, playing to a threadbare crowd at Themeland Amusement Park in Stockton, California (a city which, fittingly enough, is bankrupt). The sign outside: “PUPPET SHOW AND PRESIDENT OBAMA.” …
The cool and collected traveler with global popularity has vanished. In his place is a president with nothing to say about Europe’s fiscal crisis, one who seems impotent in the face of Russia’s belligerent support of a murderous Syrian dictator, whose attempt at Middle East peace was a colossal failure, who seems more interested in preventing an Israeli strike than in stopping the Iranian bomb, and who happily cuts away at America’s defense budget. Global confidence in and approval of Obama’s policieshas fallen. Only Japan and Russia view the United States more favorably than they did in 2009. The citizens of the world are as disillusioned as the citizens of the United States. “Our moment” and “our time” seem to have passed.
Some of this is to be expected. The problem with novelty acts is that they rarely transcend their novelty, and people tire of novelties rather quickly. Even rock stars eventually end up playing the minor-casino tours. When your act doesn’t change and it doesn’t produce results, it’s easy to end up closer to Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods than U2 or the Rolling Stones.
Of course, when your one-hit wonder is titled “Hope and Change” and then you transform into a small and petty politico desperate to find the next shiny-object distraction from your own record, the reason for the decline is obvious — as Team Romney argued in a new ad released last night:
That speech highlighted in the ad took place at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver — on a stage built to look like an ancient Greek building. Perhaps Obama can learn a lesson from some ancient Greek tragedies about hubris, if the Spinal Tap farce doesn’t work for him.