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The Boggart President

For 4 years now, we’ve been debating exactly WHAT Barack Obama is. In his own autobiography “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama described himself as “a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” That was a pretty astute observation and served him well getting elected on 2008. Liberals saw him as the second coming of JFK. Moderates saw him as a bridge between warring Washington factions. Gay activists believed he would legalize gay marriage and religious groups trusted that he wouldn’t. Hispanics believed he would favor immigration reform. He convinced women’s groups he’d uphold legalized abortion and yet a majority of Catholics still voted for him. But, there’s a problem with being all things to all people. The coalition of special interest groups supporting Obama often have conflicting goals. You can’t support school choice for minority families AND the teachers’ unions. You can’t turn a blind eye to illegal immigration while unemployment is so high among black teenagers.

The flip side of Obama’s supporters projecting all of their hopes and dreams onto him has been his enemies projecting all their worst fears onto him. Ironically, that’s also worked to his advantage. It’s been hard for the right to attack him when we can’t make up our minds just WHAT it is we’re attacking. Is he a communist? A fascist? A Muslim Manchurian candidate? The term “imperial president” seems to be popping up in editorials lately. And now, even the left is joining in the fray by tagging him as another corporate shill and violator of human rights over the drone attacks.

So, what we have here America is our first Boggart President! For those of you not familiar with the Harry Potter symbolism, a boggart is a shape-shifting bogeyman that appears in the form of the viewer’s worst fear. For Harry, it was the dreaded Dementor. For his friend Ron, it was spiders. If I saw a Boggart, it would probably be a nest of copperheads living under my porch.

It’s hard to hit a moving target and Obama keeps bobbing and weaving as analysts on both sides keep trying to pin a definition on him. Personally, I like FORMER President Barack Obama. Has a nice ring to it.

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