Tomorrow he’s announcing something concrete—an escrow account out of BP to get the cash to all the Gulf workers whose livelihoods have been trashed. But will this be deemed leaderly enough to assuage the angst among his supporters that the oil gushing into the Gulf is seeping away like his presidential potency? Obama fans become more and more glum that he keeps flubbing the very role he was expected to be so good at: Therapist to the nation. The Great Comforter.
That would be a mistake, at least for his younger voters.
I’ve come to realise that one reason why Barack Obama triumphed over Hillary Clinton in 2008 is that he is, for his younger supporters, a father figure for a fatherless generation. We’ve managed to do with our dysfunctional sociology what most places need a major war to accomplish: create a fatherless generation open to a figure such as Barack Obama. And I’ve also come to realise that, his uninspiring response to the BP oil gusher notwithstanding, it will take a lot more than this to dislodge him from their support.
Brown is right to peg George W. Bush as a “macho” father figure. But this generation isn’t looking for that. This country in general isn’t looking for that, not any more, at least.
I’m not sure how much more failure it’s going to take to force people to realise we have a dysfunctional elite led by a weak, inexperienced helmsman. Probably a great deal: our system has gone on for so long, and we have been so successful, and we are so overconfident, and we are so clueless that anything else other than what has gone before could be in our future, it will be a hard transition to reality for us. The oilfield is a hard teacher (that’s experience talking,) but it will take a sterner schoolmaster than that.