Blog post

“Obama: The Man Who Couldn't”

Clara Heyworth 5 October 2010

In his review of Tariq Ali's The Obama Syndrome for The National, Scott McLemee hits the nail on the head straight off where the book's title is concerned:

The election of Barack Hussein Obama felt like the triumph of cosmopolitan possibility over rugged provincialism ... there was a spark of intelligence in the new president's eyes, where his predecessor had never shown more than a glint of dim cunning. World opinion was festive, for a while [...] 

The very title of Tariq Ali's new book treats all of this as a kind of mental disorder—a "syndrome" to be treated, if not cured, by a strong reminder of political realities. Obama is "an extremely intelligent human being", he writes, but "not a progressive leader by any stretch of the imagination. Wishing that he were is fine but does not bring about the required transformation ... To talk of betrayal is foolish, for nothing has been betrayed but one's own illusions."

Like Ali, McLemee knows that what Obama offers is "fundamental continuity with the policies of previous administrations," and to prove his point he lists some obvious failures: the unfulfilled promise to close Guantanamo Bay, the so-called withdrawal from Iraq, the escalation in Afghanistan, healthcare reform ...

Visit The National to read the review in full.

Filed under: reviews