Fouad Ajami in today’s Wall Street Journal, on “Obama and the Politics of Crowds,” about "something odd -- and dare I say novel -- in American poltiics about the crowds that have been greeting Barack Obama”:
[T]he tragedy of Arab political culture has been the unending expectation of the crowd -- the street, we call it -- in the redeemer who will put an end to the decline, who will restore faded splendor and greatness. . . . [T]he faith in the Awaited One lives on, and it would forever circle the Arab world looking for the next redeemer.
America is a different land, for me exceptional in all the ways that matter. In recent days, those vast Obama crowds, though, have recalled for me the politics of charisma that wrecked Arab and Muslim societies. A leader does not have to say much, or be much. The crowd is left to its most powerful possession -- its imagination. . . .
The morning after the election, the disappointment will begin to settle upon the Obama crowd. Defeat -- by now unthinkable to the devotees -- will bring heartbreak. Victory will steadily deliver the sobering verdict that our troubles won't be solved by a leader's magic.
In fact, they can be made much worse.