More embarrassing, unbecoming, grovelling sycophancy from America’s artists and intellectuals when it comes to Barack Obama. Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is lauding our president’s literary gifts, saying he is the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar:
This is the first president that actually writes his own books since Teddy Roosevelt and arguably the first to write them really well since Lincoln. If you accept the premise, and I do, that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, then Barack Obama is the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar. That has to be good for American artists.
I know that he is not saying that the President is a writer of powerful works; rather, that he is a powerful man who writes. And, yes, he can call down nuclear weapons–whereas Julius Caesar could only put nations to the sword in the old fashioned way–so that makes him powerful, a powerful writer of a memoir. But the comparison to the divinized overthrower of Rome’s republic remains unsettling. Still, what our arts czar says isn’t even true. Lots of presidents since Teddy Roosevelt wrote their own books, from Woodrow Wilson to Bill Clinton.
I know tODD says that some of this artistic adulation is ironic. It just has to be. Maybe it is in some cases. But go to your local gallery, mention Barack Obama, and see what people say. No, this emperor-worship is NOT good for American artists.