A shame about Obama — Shepard Fairey, the “street artist” who created one of the best known works of political propaganda of modern times—the iconic poster of Barack Obama captioned “hope”—said in a recent interview that he had instead lost hope in the man he helped elect President in 2008. Asked if he believed Obama had satisfied the expectations he initially aroused, Fairey replied simply: “Not even close.”
Europeans often have no clear idea of just how unpopular Barack Obama has become in his own country—perhaps primarily, without going into particulars, because the actual product of the Presidency has regularly disappointed the (exaggerated) expectations raised by his election.
The precise data obviously vary according to the source, but Gallup—which practically invented presidential approval ratings—calculates that Obama’s average “approval index” over the first six years of his presidency was 47%, markedly lower that that of two other presidents thoroughly detested by the American public: George W. Bush (49.4%) and Richard Nixon (49.1%). It should be noted that the index is an average and that American presidents tend to be popular early in their terms and to fall from public grace as time goes on.
Many Americans recognise that Obama faced an impossible task, and that he sought in every way to do what he could—but they believe that this was not enough, especially for someone elected on the basis of the muscular “yes we can” slogan. That is the tragedy of failed demi-gods.
The phenomenon poses a problem for the next Democratic presidential candidate—presumably Hillary Clinton. She already faces the obstacle of being admired but not loved, and in fact she is not very loveable. Now she cannot even lay claim to the “good work” performed by her party under the outgoing administration—one in which she in fact took part.
Turkey and the golden toilet seat — According to a Reuters report, the Turkish President, Tayyip Erdoğan, has promised that if his political opponents manage to find a golden toilet seat in one of his many bathrooms, he will resign his post.
Politicians promise many things, but the neo-Sultan’s unusual proposal is an attempt to beat back criticism of his decidedly “imperial” lifestyle in view of the Turkish parliamentary elections which will take place on June 7th.
Erdoğan moved into his new palace—which literally has a thousand rooms—after his spectacular electoral victory last August. The immense structure, illuminated at night by powerful floodlights, is popularly known as the Ak Saray, the White Palace. It dominates Ankara from a hilltop on the western edge of the Turkish capital.
His predecessors were satisfied with far less, but on the other hand they did not claim to be the Founder of a “re-newed” Ottoman Turkey, with all the necessary glory that implies.
Erdoğan hopes for an electoral success in Sunday’s vote strong enough to allow his party—the AKP, a Turkish acronym for the “Party of Justice and Growth”—to strengthen its parliamentary majority to the point where it can emend the Constitution in the direction of an even stronger and more autocratic presidency. Opinion polls suggest that is not very likely, but pollsters have found rough going around the world in recent times—beginning with disastrous forecasts (for them) in Israel, Poland and, lately, in Great Britain.