The 5:20 TBA turned out to be his adoration session with lawmakers in the Cannon Caucus Room, where even committee chairmen arrived early, as if for the State of the Union. Capitol Police cleared the halls -- just as they do for the actual president. The Secret Service hustled him in through a side door -- just as they do for the actual president.
Inside, according to a witness, he told the House members, "This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for," adding: "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."
Seriously. What the bleep is a parodist such as myself supposed to do to compete with this stuff?
Anyway, Mr. Milbank cuts to the chase:
As he marches toward Inauguration Day (Election Day is but a milestone on that path), Obama's biggest challenger may not be Republican John McCain but rather his own hubris.
Over the next year of a primary and the next two years leading to the election of the next president, the campaigns...(APPLAUSE)... the campaigns shouldn't be about making each other look bad, they should be about figuring out how we can all do some good for this precious country of ours. (APPLAUSE)
That's our mission.
And in this mission, our rivals won't be one another, and I would assert it won't even be the other party. It's going to be cynicism that we're fighting against.
Fighting cynicism has drawn our mocking attention, but with the shape the campaign has taken recently, perhaps it does make a lot of sense, if not in the sense that Obama intended.
In the speech above, Obama defined cynicism as the response of voters to years of politically divisive discourse (blamed on the Bush administration, of course), claiming that the cynicism would cause people to give up on politics.
But deep down, in places he doesn’t like to talk about at parties, Obama may have been admitting that his hubris, as Milbank refers to it, would be harder to overcome in convincing voters that he is presidential material than even the dreaded VRWC.
Perhaps Obama doesn’t see the danger in acting and talking in such a presumptuous, arrogant and nearly messianic manner, perhaps he simply can’t help himself (or perhaps he actually believes it). But with Milbank here offering yet more proof that charges of hubris isn’t a baseless Republican smear or just some right-wing talking point, Obama certainly has a problem.
So indeed the cynicism of voters may prove harder for Obama to overcome than McCain.
Because when people see Obama for who he is, understand him for what he represents, witness him in all his vainglorious narcissism, compared to who he offered himself up as, who could possibly blame them for becoming cynical?