In today’s Wall Street Journal, there’s a cynical editorial by Fouad Ajami — an editorial that is, in my opinion, the opening salvo in the campaign to unseat Barack Obama. Ajami — who achieved some notoriety by being the only prominent Arab intellectual referenced in Dick Cheney’s defense of the Iraq invasion — argues that Barack Obama is actually a “pessimist.”
Now — the more politics changes, the more it stays the same. Ajami references Reagan, who somehow managed to brand himself as an “optimist,” and defeat the sighing, intellectual, “pessimistic” Jimmy Carter, in 1980. This is what the Republican establishment will try to do to Obama in 2012.
I actually think that the opposite is true. I’ve never been so inspired by the optimism of a leader — a leader who has maintained his even-temper in the face of the most cynical politics America has seen in perhaps a century or more. Ajami’s editorial is written in a glib, erudite tone — and conceals the fact that it has, at its heart, absolutely no evidence. But, then again, neither did the folks who said that the Obama Health Care proposal had “death panels” in it.
Reading Orwell as a whippersnapper convinced me of two things: 1) Never trust a talking pig. And, 2) Politicians — and political rhetoricians — will often use your strengths against you, when they are in a desperate situation. Obama’s biggest strength? His message of optimism and hope. So: Let’s try and spin that negatively — the argument goes — and what will remain?
Here is a link to the Ajami: