The Corner

And the Next Presidential Mask Is TR?

When Obama was a candidate, we soon got bored with his constant self-comparisons to Reagan, as if Obama shared the same eloquence and would likewise would be a historic landmark president, a paradigm changer. Once elected, Obama became our new Lincoln. In December 2008, he took a Lincolnesque train ride to D.C. from Springfield, as if he, too, ever so slowly, was coming east to save the nation with his “Team of Rivals.”

After being inaugurated, he was reinvented as a Depression-era FDR. We heard for months about a new “100 days” as he pushed through Obamacare, as if this landmark president were enacting a second New Deal in early 2009. Then we had Obama as Woodrow Wilson — bored with details, perhaps, and surly and petulant in Wilson fashion, but masterful at soaring internationalist rhetoric and all sorts of progressive new utopias, a “reset” after his neanderthal predecessors.

More recently, Obama became a fiery Truman, a “Give ’em Hell, Barry” who barnstormed the country, railing against a “do-nothing” Congress that would not up by another $500 billion his unhinged $4 billion–plus new debt. Now the latest mask is TR’s: the greatest recipient of Wall Street cash in presidential campaign history becoming a historic regulator, trust-buster, and populist, harping about “trickle-down” economics.

This is all pretty pathetic. What we have here is an adolescent president in desperate search of an adult identity of his own, without which he borrows liberally from others, often oddly from Republicans or conservatives. And coming back from Lala-land to reality, today we get Obama’s anti–Wall Street speech as a backdrop to Bill Clinton’s Wall Street lobbying firm taking $50,000 a month from the bankrupt MF Global of liberal Jon Corzine — a progressive whom Joe Biden once assured us was a go-to guy when economic crises were upon us. 

All stranger than fiction.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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