When Barack Obama first became famous in the United Kingdom, I concluded that he was a more intelligent, more histrionically skilled version of Tony Blair. But perhaps I was wrong. He may in fact be a less intelligent, more histrionically skilled version of Tony Blair. Otherwise the parallels between the two remain uncanny: the narcissism, the incompetence, the shallowness, the intellectual vacuity, the pathological dishonesty, the hatred of or indifference towards history and the historic nation. There are even the same rumours about past homosexuality, a similarly grotesque, Lady-Macbeth-like wife and a love of vapid, worthless celebrity culture shared with her. Michelle Obama’s recent Oscar-presentation stunt is the Cherie on the icing, though, to give Cherie Blair her due, she never gave me the impression that racial hatred was an even stronger element in her nature than egotism and desire for personal gain.
Racial hatred may seem like one big difference between Obama and Blair, but their policies in terms of race, for reasons around which I won’t interrogate issues, have been more or less the same. Voting “conservative” in either nation wouldn’t have made any difference to that. It would also have made little difference to the speed with which each nation is being destroyed. But the Tories and Republicans couldn’t appeal to voters in the same way as their supposed rivals. Like Blair, Obama saw that the key to electoral success was to get people to vote not for him, but for themselves. That’s why so many Guardianistas in the UK so desperately wished they could “Vote O in ’8”. The narcissistic, self-righteous thrill would have been even greater than voting for Blair. Obama was black, after all. Black, for Mandela’s sake! Like Blair, Obama offered himself as a mirror for liberal narcissists; and like Blair, he’s disappointed more and more of those narcissists as the years have passed. But, by himself, he wouldn’t have destroyed my faith in democracy as comprehensively as Blair did. T.B. was an obvious fake and a bad con-man. B.O. is a better con-man and a less obvious fake. It isn’t as hard to understand how he fooled so many and got the chance to do so much harm.
A lot more harm, in fact, because the United States is a much bigger and much more important country than the UK. Historians will give its collapse much more attention in future, but I wonder how many of them will put the blame where it belongs: on one of the two great curses of modernity. The first great curse has been the car, the second has been television. Cars have destroyed our cities; TV has destroyed our culture. Blair and Obama are what TV hath wrought in politics: ultimate expressions of the ultimate abomination of liberalism. Après eux, le Déluge. “After them, the Flood.”