Passion fades for Barack Obama, the perfect poster boy

 Like many others, I fell for Barack Obama somewhere in the middle of Bush’s second term, writes Gill Hornby.
I’ve probably been in denial for a few months now. Turning a blind eye, trying not to overreact to the little things, even though all the signs were there.
But now it might just be time to face up to it. Another political love affair is over. Another one has let me down.
President Obama’s acceptance speech at the Nobel Prize ceremony wasn’t the last straw, not exactly. And it certainly wasn’t his fault that he won the damned thing. But the text of it – “Some will kill, and some will be killed” – and the headlines – “Obama Defends War as he Picks up Peace Prize”: well, it’s not exactly what we were hoping for, back in those heady early days. It’s change, all right. Just not quite the one we were after.
Like many others, I fell for Barack Obama somewhere in the middle of Bush’s second term. One reading of Dreams from My Father, and that was it. A bumper sticker went on the car (“I Got a Crush on Obama”), posters went up in the kitchen, and we gave up domestic news bulletins for CNN and Fox. It was an obsession: David Cassidy all over again.
But say what you like about David Cassidy – he never fudged around on the closure of Guantanamo Bay. Or spent weeks dithering about his policy in Afghanistan, and then came up with a solution that pleased none of the people, none of the time.
Obama’s commitment to total health care reform landed in the rough within months. His gift for presentation appeared to vanish the minute he hit office; the rhetoric that left so many of us swooning seems now to have deserted him. His domestic approval ratings collapsed months ago. It’s enough to break your heart.
And it’s not the first time. The chances are, if you fell for Barack in 2008, you fell for Blair back in 1997. And OK, I admit it: I did. When he stood on that platform at Sedgefield on election night, paused, gulped and promised: “I will not let you down”, I actually believed him.
Yes, I was a mug. That’s brought home every day, as more poison drips out from the Chilcot inquiry, reminding us all of the many ways in which he did indeed let us down – and quite spectacularly. It’s a bit like being Bridget Jones: are there simply no decent, young, vibrant, attractive, liberal-leaning leaders out there who deserve us?
The trouble is, like Bridget, we’re desperate. We can’t give up on Obama yet. He’s not a total cad. Some form of health reform could be patched together, which would be nothing short of a triumph.
His heart, we must believe, is still in the right place, even though his policies may be somewhere else entirely. We still love Michelle. He chose the right dog. I’m not scraping off the bumper sticker just yet. The poster is still up. It still shouts “Change”. Let’s just hope he does.

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