Magazine July 5, 2010, Issue

The Obama Enigma

(Darren Gygi)
Disconnection from the main currents of American life turns out to be a political disadvantage

‘I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views,” Barack Obama famously wrote in the prologue to The Audacity of Hope. He wrote as though this “blankness” were not part of a conscious strategy for winning the White House. It was the emptiness of his slogans — “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” — that allowed liberals and moderates to consider him a soul mate. Being enigmatic also enabled him to be glamorous. Coolness and distance are not just an Obama strategy; they are also clearly integral to his

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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Helen Thomas was a fixture — a reporter for 40 years, a columnist for ten — always a plus in Washington. She was a left-wing scold: another plus.

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