Obama: Appearance and Reality – Introduction

“Obama’s is the most transformational presidency in modern history, but it simply does not feel that way.”
Michael Tomasky, “Obama’s Big and Quiet Transformation,” New York Review of Books, LX:2, 7 February
2013, 19.

Last week Obama was inaugurated for his second term. I was busy focused on the Israeli
election. Then it was Martin Luther King Day. I needed to say something. In the next
three weeks I will devote my Blog to Barack Obama, but only after first giving space
to his conservative economic and cultural critics who appear even more bizarre than
the economic spoilers. Though the conservative cultural critics are dismissed by many
of the conservative chattering class, such as David Frum, as a danger to Republican
prospects, they offer some deeper insight into the fundamental question that concerns
me. After I give his strong and weak defenders a chance to reply, I will then ask the
question that bothers me most? Why is Obama’s presidency experienced so widely as
at best a mediocre and, at worst, a failed performance? Why is he lauded by a few as a
great president? If he is a great president, why the discrepancy between appearance and
reality? Why the great chasm in experience? I offer a phenomenological account of the
experience of the Obama presidency as he begins his second term.

Like the serials of old that we used to watch in movie theatres on Saturday afternoon as
kids, I have divided the BLOG into instalments. Just let me know if you hate instalments
or hate hearing another word on Obama or hate both and do not want to receive the Blog.

Week I
A. Obama as a Failed President
B. Obama as a Dangerous President to the Essence of America
C. Obama as a Great President
D. Obama as an OK President

Week 2
E. Analysis of the Economic War Among the Chattering Class
F. Analysis of the Cultural War
G. The End of the Old Racial War on Both the Right and the Left
H. The New Cultural War

Week 3
I. Obama as a Black President Who Appears to Embody Whiteness
J. Obama as a White President Who Embodies Blackness
K. Obama as a Gestalt President – Both Black and White
L. Blackness as the New Cultural Norm.