President Obama has spent most of his professional life delivering speeches to crowds who were willing to accept without question the premises from which his rhetoric proceeded.
Whether he believed this left-wing foolishness we cannot know, but the base that propelled his career forward certainly did.
When, as he detailed in the description of his time as a community organizer in “Dreams From My Father,” he spoke to gatherings of urban poor in Chicago, he could tell them that if only the power elite cared, their lives would get better.
Once ensconced in the Illinois legislature, he could tell his constituents that things would get better if only they could change downstate and especially those Republicans in the statehouse.
During his campaign for and after his election to the United States Senate, he could tell larger audiences that the problem was President George W. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. He could promise hope if the change would come first.
During his presidential campaign and after he entered the Oval Office, he could assure the majority of Americans who voted for him that indeed now the time had come and America was in the hands of those who truly cared and who could truly lead the country.
Two years into a presidency that seems on the brink not just of failure but of repudiation and even collapse, the audience for this nonsense seems on the verge of suspending its suspension of disbelief.
“Quite frankly, I'm exhausted,” Velma Hart told the president last week. “I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.”
Those who never believed the hype are not disappointed now, only alarmed at how quickly fiscal profligacy has metastasized and worried that absent a U-turn on Nov. 2, a fiscal stroke could arrive that makes the panic of the fall of '08 that elected Obama look like a picnic.
But those, like Hart, who believed that government could solve intransigent problems, are not only disappointed but dispirited. Obama's faithful never believed in the dynamism of the private sector, only in its corruption. They never trusted Bush except to do favors for Halliburton. They never bought Afghanistan as a necessary intervention, but only as a colossal exercise in revenge.
Now even that audience is waking up to the reality of a world where government cannot create wealth, but only consume it, and where enemies like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Afghanistan's Taliban care not a whit about “outreach to the Muslim world.”
Perhaps the last man to wake up in America is the president himself, and perhaps it took a chin shot from Hart to deliver the message. The choir doesn't want any more preaching, any more promises of a better future “if only…”
They sent in the small contributions. They provided the votes. They delivered the huge congressional majorities, and those majorities delivered an enormous “stimulus,” plus Obamacare, and still the economy is wheezing, inner-city schools are still failing and health care is still expensive.
Obama's entire career has been built on overpromising. Now not only is he underdelivering, he is doing so in spectacularly woeful fashion, and his teleprompter-dependent rhetoric is leaving even his true believers cynical and uninterested in turning out one-more-time for another round of hype built on bitter charges against an evil overclass.
The snake oil has been tried and it doesn't work. In fact, it makes things worse. Much worse. And the customers are angry.
Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.