Saturday, June 27, 2015

A timid facsimile of leadership

This article is well-intended, but it's simply false. Obama did not "find his voice" in eulogizing Rev. Pinckney; instead, as in just about every other crisis he has faced, Obama gave the impression of one who comes late to the party, makes tentative gestures in the direction of doing or saying the right thing and finally, emboldened or perhaps ashamed by the examples of those with more heartfelt conviction than he, makes a mighty effort to overcome his characteristic buttoned-up timidity. That's what we saw yesterday in Charleston: not a leader, not a prophetic voice, but a callow young man, "trying his wings" at "leading a black congregation," as he had seen done by better men than he, by launching into "Amazing Grace." Coming from the likes of AME Presiding Elder Norvell Goff, it might have been a majestic gesture; coming from callow Barry, it reminded me of nothing so much as Aldous Huxley's label "Arch-Community Songster," from "Brave New World."

Obama's problem is that he is made of lemon jello and yet trying to lead a dangerous and challenging world. He isn't really a leader and not really a grown man; he is a glib, clever lad, forever trying on various costumes and poses in front of a mirror, to see which combination will have the best effect.

The thing that came across in Charleston, as it had come across in Boston two years ago, was that he is still "trying" to be taken as a mature man, a morally commanding figure, a leader of stature. Trying. That pretty well sums him up. Because, sadly, trying is about the best Barry can do. There is something fundamentally missing from him. If you didn't see it yesterday, it was either because you wanted Rev. Pinckney and his fellow martyrs to be honored, or because, like many others, you are inclined to give Obama too much of the benefit of the doubt.

No comments: