... Mr. Obama always knew that his greatest appeal was not as a leader but as a cultural symbol.... A greater problem for our nation today is that we have a president whose benign--and therefore desirable--blackness exempted him from the political individuation process that makes for strong, clear-headed leaders. He has not had to gamble his popularity on his principles, and it is impossible to know one's true beliefs without this. In the future he may stumble now and then into a right action, but there is no hard-earned center to the man out of which he might truly lead.
And yes, white America conditioned Barack Obama to emptiness--valued him all along for his "articulate and clean" blackness, so flattering to American innocence. He is a president come to us out of our national insecurities.
This I could anticipate from Shelby, but what came over Maureen Dowd? Liberals have the most to fear from a second term of Carter.
I look at Obama somewhat differently from Steele. Postmodern Obama inverts the order of the 10 moral virtues found in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. The Philosopher goes from courage to wittiness. Obama has no use for courage--probably viewing it as an atavism (hence his trouble addressing military issues)--but this disembodied voice is all wit. That is the postmodern stance: Being above it all. Aristotle had it right, that courage and its psychic source of spiritedness is a necessary part of moral, political, and philosophic life. A fully human life requires wit but does not begin with it.