Sunday 23 July 2017

Obama's cool strength is now his weakness

US President Barack Obama meets schoolchildren as he visits Humayun's Tomb in New Delhi, India, yesterday
US President Barack Obama meets schoolchildren as he visits Humayun's Tomb in New Delhi, India, yesterday

Mary Ann Sieghart

When President Barack Obama redecorated the Oval Office, it was in various shades of beige. "I like taupe," he explained to the 'New York Times'.

Taupe is a nothing colour. It doesn't shout drab; it murmurs it. What a tragic mutation from the vibrant red and blue of those Obama posters emblazoned with the word 'HOPE'. It is as if Obama's taste in decoration is a symbol of the energy that has leeched out of his presidency, culminating in those awful midterm election results last week. The virtues he had then have become his faults now.

Remember how appealing the "no-drama Obama" was during the presidential election campaign? We marvelled at his imperturbability. Nothing fazed him. His Republican opponent, John McCain, became increasingly tetchy during the campaign, which made voters wonder whether they wanted a president who might lose his rag under pressure. With Obama, there was never any danger of that. A leader who was calm under duress seemed exactly what America -- and the rest of the world -- needed.

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