In 2007-08, Obama’s high-toned, consistent persona was everything. What else was there? Barack Obama took a blank slate and wrote a masterpiece of a presidential campaign across it. From nothing, this fresh Obama persona defeated the familiar, experienced Hillary Clinton in the primaries. In the general election, he ran famously on “hope and change,” gave a stirring speech on race in America, and persuaded enough moderate and independent voters to turn 2008 into a “historic” American election.

Barack Obama had levitated himself above the usual, dispiriting muck of politics. This new person seemed to be precisely what a disgusted electorate wanted. Candidate Obama embedded that image in the American psyche. He built it. He fed it.

Now he’s deconstructing himself into another Obama. The latest Obama, which seems genuine, routinely ridicules and mocks his opposition. He mocks pretty much anyone who disagrees with him about anything.