Sunday, April 4, 2010

“What You See is What You Want to See.”

Frank Rich has an interesting Op-Ed, "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Obama."
NOT since Clark Kent changed in a phone booth has there been an instant image makeover to match Barack Obama’s in the aftermath of his health care victory. “He went from Jimmy Carter to F.D.R. in just a fortnight,” said one of the “Game Change” authors, Mark Halperin, on MSNBC. “Look at the steam in the man’s stride!” exclaimed Chris Matthews. “Is it just me, or does Barack Obama seem different since health care passed?” wrote Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast, which, like The Financial Times, ran an illustration portraying the gangly president as a newly bulked-up Superman. [...]

But has the man really changed — or is it just us? [...]

Depending on where you stand — or the given day — he is either an overintellectual, professorial wuss or a ruthless Chicago machine pol rivaling the original Boss Daley. He is either a socialist redistributing wealth to the undeserving poor or a tool of Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs elite. He is a terrorist-coddling, A.C.L.U.-tilting lawyer or a closet Cheneyite upholding the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s end run on the Constitution. He is a lightweight celebrity who’s clueless without a teleprompter or a Machiavellian mastermind who has ingeniously forged his Hawaiian birth certificate, covered up his ties to Islamic radicals and bamboozled the entire mainstream press. He is the reincarnation of J.F.K., L.B.J., F.D.R., Reagan, Hitler, Stalin, Adlai Stevenson or Nelson Mandela. (Funny how few people compared George W. Bush to anyone but Hitler and his parents.) [...]

As far back as 2004 — when Obama was still in the Illinois Senate — a writer at The Chicago Tribune, Don Terry, framed what remains the prevailing Obama takeaway to this day. “He’s a Rorschach test,” Terry wrote. “What you see is what you want to see.” [...]

What’s clear is that Obama largely remains a fixed point even while the rest of us keep wildly revising our judgments, whether looking at him through the prism of partisan politics, race, media melodrama or any other we choose. It’s our recession-tossed country, not his presidency, that is rocked by violent mood swings.

Read the complete article HERE.

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