Prof. James Caesar may have a brain fever or it could be that his brain is just dysfunctional. It works well enough for him to pen extremely long articles, however, even if the premises are ridiculous. What he really ought to do, is to go talk to actual supporters of President Obama. He should talk to the people who still support him and the people who once did but no longer do. If he does this, he will discover that virtually none of these people ever had the slightest inclination to see the president as a Messianic figure, nor did they think that the president saw himself that way.

More deadly to his premise than this, however, is his identification of 2013 as the year in which people soured on the president. For those I know who have turned on the president, the change came in the first term. For the most part, it came very early in the first term. Some were appalled that Obama chose Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff and began attacking the president even before he was sworn in. Others were outraged that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner were given responsibility for handling the economy. Others never forgave the president for not getting a bigger stimulus package or demanded a public option in the healthcare bill. Still others were disillusioned that the Bush administration and the CIA were given a pass for torture and that the prison in Guantanamo Bay could not be closed. And then there is the drone program, NSA spying, and the continuation of the war in Afghanistan.

All of these things were evident by the time the voters went to the polls in November 2012 and reelected the president. With the exception of recent revelations about the NSA, none of these things got worse in 2013 than they had been in 2012.

What happened in 2013 is that the president was unable to accomplish through legislative means any of the things that the people elected him to do, and he wasn’t able to do anything about gun violence either, which was a priority that arose after his reelection when the children in Connecticut were cut down in their first grade classrooms. But this hasn’t caused widespread disillusion with the president. Whatever disillusion that exists on the left, already existed, and most of us voted for him again anyway.

Now, if there is even a kernel of truth in what Prof. Caesar is arguing, it is in the idea that Obama encouraged that he could get us beyond a Blue State America and a Red State America and give us a United States of America. I think even Obama felt that he might be able to do this and he spent too much time nurturing this delusion. But, again, that dream began to die the second that the Republicans refused to take responsibility for destroying the economy and opposed the Stimulus en masse. The dream was dead no later than August 2009, when the Tea Party arose. The president did not run for reelection on a promise to fix the culture of Washington. And that is not why people voted for him the second time around.

So, what’s with this?

And what of the Great Disappointment of 2013? In the promiscuous blending of politics and culture that characterizes our age, the launch of the Obama campaign in 2007 marked the beginning of a politico-spiritual movement that promised a new beginning and a transformation of the nation. It was to be the “moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal .  .  . [when we] restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.” Faith in the leader knew no bounds. Obamaism spilled out from the college campuses and tony enclaves of Manhattan and San Francisco into the mass public to become first an American and then a worldwide phenomenon. The legion of believers included not only the youth in their T-shirts emblazoned with the silk-screen Obama image, but also many of the nation’s most experienced political observers. By early 2009, the five wise persons from Oslo had come bearing the gift of the Nobel Peace Prize. No date was fixed for the fulfillment of all the hopes and promises—extensions were continually asked for under the excuse that “change would never be easy”—but enough time had transpired by the end of 2013 for people to sense that the deadline had come and gone.

Maybe the right can comfort themselves that their obstruction has limited how “transformational” Obama’s presidency will ultimately prove to be. In truth, unless the conservatives figure out a way to repeal the Affordable Care Act and eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the president’s transformative legacy will be fairly secure. Some of his great achievements, like the advances in gay rights and decision to look the other way as cannabis is semi-legalized, are really generational achievements. He was merely at the right place at the right time, and was wise enough not to hold up progress.

Other areas of blockage, including (potentially) immigration reform, may come back to haunt the Republicans and redound to the benefit of the next Democratic presidential contender. If, say, Hillary Clinton ultimately gets the credit for reforming our immigration system, that will hardly benefit the Republicans going forward.

The Republicans have proven that they won’t compromise even when they are offered plans that they used to call their own (like the Heritage Foundations’ RomneyCare, McCain/Palin’s cap and trade, or Chained CPI). Everyone knows that the president kept his promise to try to change the culture in Washington, and everyone knows why he wasn’t successful in that regard.

But no one expected a messiah, and no one is disillusioned that they didn’t get one.

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