But the truth is - we're doing the same thing to President Obama. Way too many people assumed he would be the "second coming" of salvation from the ravages of the Bush years. And while he's managed to make a lot of headway in tackling the problems that were on his plate when he arrived at the White House...for too many Americans, its just not enough.
Peggy Noonan is the latest to push this meme. She talks about two things she's noticed lately. The first being that no one is optimistic about the economy. And here's what she says is the second.
The second is that everyone hungers for leadership. Really, everyone. And really, it is a hunger. They want so much to be able to respect and feel trust in their political leaders. Everyone hungers for someone strong, honest and capable—as big as the moment. But the presidential contest, the default topic when Americans gather, tended to become somewhat secondary. Underlying everything was a widespread sense among Democrats and Republicans, lefties and righties, that President Obama isn't big enough, and that we don't have to argue about this anymore. There was also a broad sense that there is no particular reason to believe any one of the Republicans is big enough, either.
In an interesting twist, she then goes on to talk about how bad things are right now and veers into dissing the Democrats and President Obama for thinking the right narrative will save the day. As an aside, I couldn't help but think that while President Obama was busy governing, folks like Drew Westen accused him of not doing a good enough job of telling a compelling story to the American people. And now Noonan thinks "he's too obsessed with The Narrative."
She ends with this:
Would the next president like a story? Here's one. America was anxious, and feared it was losing the air of opportunity that had allowed it to be what it was—expansive, generous, future-trusting. It was losing faith in its establishments and institutions. And someone came out of that need who led—who was wise and courageous and began to turn the ship around. And we saved our country, and that way saved the world.
There's a narrative for you, the only one that matters. Go be a hero of that story. It will get around. It will bubble up.
All I could think of when I read this is "I want a Daddy to fix it all for me...now!!!" And it of course reminded me of all the similar columns written by Maureen Dowd that sounded just the same. Of course Noonan has a political ax to grind. But we hear the same thing often enough from the poutragers and those who think President Obama has been "ineffectual" because the economy is still struggling.
Frankly I get really weary of this kind of thing and I truly don't understand it. What I want to shout is "What is it you want this savior to actually DO that you think would suddenly turn this ship around and make all the bad stuff go away?" Oh, and how does that happen given the strategy of total obstruction adopted by the Republicans? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what is our role in all this? I know none of us can fix this on our own. But are we doing our part or are we too busy complaining about what someone else isn't doing?
As a meta issue, I'm really worried about our county's almost complete embrace of the victim culture that says only a savior can rescue us. It just ain't going to happen - we're all human. And the desire to find one is a sure recipe for the end of democracy.