One of the great mysteries of the Obama presidency to date is the disappearance of what drew voters to him and carried him to the White House: passion.
During the long primary and then presidential campaign, the 44th president aroused a fervor that we had not seen since John F. Kennedy. Upon arriving at the White House, however, this passion disappeared. Although in his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," Obama spoke of how he worked on himself to control his anger in a white society that is afraid of expressing passion, the transformation of the Obama of “Yes We Can” into a cerebral president is a mystery. And this inability to express passion has disconnected him from Americans at a time when the country is traversed by violent demonstrations of passion — anger, frustration, anxiety about the future — demonstrated by the tea party.
It is difficult to want to do the right thing for people by adopting, for example, health care reform that allows more than 30 million Americans to have insurance and yet be unable to feel their distress. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, faced with the same uprising of passion in the early days of his presidency, was able to oppose these overflows with a mixture of passion and rationality. The president can’t become Sarah Palin or Christine O'Donnell, but maybe something is changing.
The publication of the book by Dinesh D'Souza, "The Roots of Obama's Rage," and especially the cover of Forbes magazine, “How He Thinks” (which is a light version of the book) have suddenly triggered a reaction from the White House. The book says that the 44th president is in fact acting to avenge his father, a bitter Kenyan intellectual, and has unconsciously adopted his anti-colonial, anti-business ideas.
“Barack Obama is the most anti-business president in a generation, perhaps in American history," D’Souza writes. For the first time, Robert Gibbs, spokesman for the president, lashed out at Forbes, accusing the magazine of reaching “a new low” and wondering if “they [had] not fact-check[ed] this at all, or did they fact-check it and just willfully ignore it?”
The article by D'Souza is replete with false claims. For example, he asserts that Obama is not truly American because he spent his most formative years, the first 17 years of his life, outside of the United States in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan. However, Hawaii is part of the United States, and the future president went once, as a young student, to Pakistan. It's not as if he were indoctrinated in a madrassa in Lahore. ...
The president himself, in campaigning to support his economic policy, began to show signs of passion, hoping not to lose both houses of Congress in November 2010.
The rise of the more extreme candidates of the tea party in Republican primaries on Tuesday September 14, 2010; the publication of the Forbes magazine article — a very influential newspaper for the American ruling class — and Sarah Palin’s positioning for the 2012 presidential campaign have suddenly given a boost to the White House, whose only passionate element able to respond to the whimsical tea party is Rahm Emanuel. The White House may finally be waking up.