Before he became a China scholar, our friend Steve Mosher was an engineer. He likes to say that if you are an engineer whose bridges collapse or whose highways break up, you’re likely to lose your Professional Engineer’s license. But if you are a social scientist, or a history professor and all your ideas collapse under the weight of evidence, you get tenure. And if you are a liberal journalist who gets it all spectacularly wrong, you get promoted.
Andrew Sullivan is a case in point. He waxed lyrical about the Advent of Barack Obama. Even better than the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Obama would stop terrorists dead in their tracks. Here’s a famous paragraph of Andrew Sullivan in full gush mode:
Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man — Barack Hussein Obama — is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.
We elected Barack Obama president in November 2008. And those young Pakistanis all swooned, right? They made sure to wear some flowers in their hair as Islamabad vied with San Francisco to host a summer of love.
Not so much. In the Year Four of the Age of Obama, only seven percent of Pakistanis had confidence in the American president.