It is 2008. An unknown figure steps from the mist. No one knows his background. There is no birth certificate. No college transcripts or other records. No known friends. No apparent experience. A virtual blank slate stares at you. Are you watching a remake of the eponymous “Legend of Bagger Vance?” No, you are witnessing the emergence of Barack Obama on his march to power.
“The Legend of Bagger Vance” was a Robert Redford directed movie made in 2000. The principal actors were Will Smith, Matt Damon, Charlize Theron and Jack Lemmon (his last movie). The film was about a fictional golf event in 1931, held in Georgia. Smith played the central role of Bagger Vance, a mystical and mysterious caddy. Damon played Rannulph Junuh, whose life, golf game and love interest Bagger magically rejuvenated. The story was set against an epic golf match Junuh played against Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones.
Awesomestories.com provided the following background for the film:
As Steven Pressfield (author of The Legend of Bagger Vance) has acknowledged, Bagger Vance, and the story of his legend, are based on the Hindu epic and scriptural poem, the Bhagavad-Gita. … In the epic, Bhagavan is the “Supreme Personality” who helps his follower, Arjuna, understand much about war and about life.
In a review of the film, the following observations were offered:
… co-producer Michael Nozik has described Bagger as a “Native American coyote trickster,” and costar [Charlize] Theron has expressed her fascination with how “you don’t ever know where he comes from or where he’s going.”
The Legend of Bagger Obama started with a masterfully crafted and executed presidential campaign. It was a campaign of personality, centered on a young, unknown, but messianic figure. The Clinton machine, the most feared force in politics, was taken out first. Then an inept Senator McCain was easily defeated.
Visions of Camelot redux filled the media. Millions supported the shadowy and charismatic man. A groundswell of popular support, hope and goodwill ushered him into office. Marvin Olasky captured much of the excitement in a recent post, especially that of the media:
Tom Brokaw compared Obama’s inauguration to the overthrow of Communism in 1989: “I was in Prague when that happened. . . . The streets were filled with joy.” CBS Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez rhapsodized, “A new day is dawning here in the nation’s capital. . . . Does it get any better, or more beautiful, or more spectacular, than this?”
The trappings of office added additional majesty. He was a rock star who had assumed the highest office in the land. His presence dominated the airwaves and newspapers. Exaggerations became truth if he uttered them.
This “Supreme Personality” seemed to believe his mere presence and pronouncements constituted governance. Management and decision-making seemed beneath him. In many ways, it was as if Bagger Vance, himself, had ascended to the White House. It was just how Bagger might govern. Mere pronouncements, filled with mystical wisdom, would solve the world’s problems. Presence and image would replace actual decisions. That was what Bagger knew and did.
Movies are easier to script than real-life. Bagger Obama’s “legend” soon began to falter. A teleprompter malfunction exposed oratory skills that appeared to be no better than his ridiculed, illiterate predecessor. Campaign promises were quickly abandoned. Numerous embarrassments abroad developed, as did a pattern of waffling on issues.
Unlike a movie, real-life has angles never intended to be filmed. Campaigns can be orchestrated. After election, all camera angles are in play. The young emperor soon began to be viewed as without clothes and without crown. Some of his biggest supporters in the media began criticizing, even satirizing Bagger. Olasky described:
Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show on Comedy Central is often a leading indicator of sentiment among younger voters. Stewart last month waxed sarcastic regarding not only Democratic spending and deficit-creation, but also about Obama’s personal style of implying frankness and then serving up bromides.
Maureen Dowd’s New York Times column is often a leading indicator of sentiment among older liberal voters. She wrote recently, “The animating spirit that electrified his political movement has sputtered out. If we could see a Reduced Shakespeare summary of Obama’s presidency so far, it would read: Dither, dither, speech. Foreign trip, bow, reassure. Seminar, summit. Shoot a jump shot with the guys, throw out the first pitch in mom jeans. Compromise, concede, close the deal. Dither, dither, water down, news conference.”
Stripped of his aura, Bagger Obama was reduced to an ordinary man, subject to ordinary judgment and scrutiny. He was seen as just another politician. “The One” had morphed into “Just Another One” (ordinary politician, that is).
Without his halo, Bagger Obama’s campaign phrases sounded sophomoric and empty. “Yes we can!” had no meaning. “Hope and Change,” conveniently imprecise and effective in a campaign, was useless for governing. The public passed judgment now in terms of effectiveness rather than awe. Warts and blemishes were apparent with the Messiah lens removed.
The prolonged Afghanistan troop decision, scripted as the measured consideration of a wise leader, did not play well. It was merely another politician stalling while he searched for a political strategy. The “correct” war of the campaign was now just a political problem. Geopolitics or troop safety seemed irrelevant.
The Gitmo base closing represented another campaign-promise fiasco. The decision was postponed for more than a year, and the base may never be closed. Attempts to transfer prisoners to other places were clumsy and replete with political bribes.
Health-care reform morphed through endless iterations. At the end, there was no discernible logic behind the plan. Inconsistencies, deals, falsified data and outright lies were evident to anyone willing to look. Despite the problems and unpopularity, healthcare moved forward not unlike an ancient pagan ritual. Congressional Democrats sacrificed the best healthcare system in the world and the American taxpayer to their God, Bagger Obama.
Nowhere was the lack of leadership more apparent than in the economic sphere. Promises and forecasts were consistently wrong. The vaunted stimulus package was little more than large-scale looting, cronyism and vote-buying. Increasingly non-government economists agreed that economic policies were harmful.
In response, the Administration maintained that a recovery was under way. But citizens knew that stocks were lower than they were in 1999, no net job creation occurred this century and foreclosures and bankruptcies were increasing. No alternative, credible plan was offered.
Bagger Vance was able to rehabilitate Junah’s golf game to the point that Junah could compete with Hagen and Jones. If Junah had lost the tournament by 17 strokes, there would have been no story and no legend. Bagger Vance’s magic was “real” in the sense that he could mystically create outcomes.
Bagger Obama strode onto the stage selling the same magic. His “game” was our economy and geopolitical role in the world. Since his arrival, conditions in both areas have worsened. Bagger’s magic did not work. He is losing his game by much more than 17 strokes.
Obama sold a product he could not deliver. Image and reality collided, and reality won. The unfolding tragedy is that everyone but Bagger Obama seems to realize this. What was once viewed by people as confidence, control and wisdom is now seen as narcissism, naiveté and self-absorption. Competence is no longer presumed, it is doubted. Yet, Bagger continues playing his role.
We are at a dangerous point in both the Presidency of Barack Obama and the country. Does the Administration have any idea of what to do? Do they believe they can continue to use Hollywood imagery in lieu of real, hard decisions? Hype, rhetoric and Greek columns are irrelevant. Markets and enemies are immune to dramaturgy. The President, his minions and the country are apt to find that out shortly.
For Bagger Obama, it is difficult to visualize how this ends. It is unlikely that he can rehabilitate his presidency, because there is no way to rehabilitate the phony image. A different image might work, but it is doubtful that people would fall for such a marketing ruse. Americans are forgiving people, but they have never been kind to con men. The most likely scenario is that Bagger Obama is a one-term embarrassment to the country, the world and the Democrat party.
Obama’s fiction was great. He was a wonderful actor who was able to effectively play a President on TV, for awhile. The performance was all form and no substance, fine for a movie but not real life. The Fall sweeps have come and gone, and the Obama show did not pass muster. Unlike TV, mercilessly this show cannot be cancelled for three more years.
Somewhere from beyond the mist the real Bagger must be chuckling as he watches. Perhaps he would provide the following advice:
“You know you can just go ahead and creep off somewhere I’ll tell folk you took sick… Truth be told, ain’t nobody gonna really object… In fact, they’d probably be happy as bugs in a bake shop to see you pack up and go home…”
For Bagger Vance this may be humorous. For most of us, however, the next three years will seem like a dangerous eternity.