Barack Obama believed that he could preside over the end of humanitarian intervention, which he called simply war. He was momentously wrong… History, whose course he thought he knew, has trapped him. Obama can no longer get away with his routine as the uplifting realist. There is no such being.
Rhetorical treason against the American Idea: If Americanism is right, then it represents the uniquely both realistic and uplifting idea, the means for the real attainment of what good can really be attained, while recognition of that good as both real and really good ought to be uplifting, or authentically and therefore all the more uplifting. Americanism is not just pragmatic but pragmaticist: It does not accept that its actualizability must be diminishing, or that its endless perfectibility, or imperfections, and extensibility, or limitations, are spiritual defects. It demotes all other utopianisms, all eroticizations of lesser because merely imaginary “rights,” as relatively defective and dangerous unless understood realistically for what they are: things that never can be.
History, whose course Wieseltier often seems to think he knows, has trapped him: The failure to maintain the romance alongside the reality and the reality alongside the romance leads to transparently one-sided recitations of facts as thought known but obviously neither fully thought through nor truly known, in which whichever realized “nightmare” is purely the result of a president’s failure of courage and vision, when, as everyone knows or ought to know, the dreary realism of the chief executive was and still remains as it could only have been: an adequation to the mood or thought or shaken will of a nation taught skepticism by the unhappy results of its last Wieseltierian fling. It is not in the nature of emotions, individual emotions or mass emotions, for any particular state of them to persist forever. In the meantime, to insist there is no such being as an uplifting realist is pure pessimism – reality as inherently depressive – and completely contrary to the yearnings that Wieseltier, as best friend of the historically lovelorn, or like Ahab to the “sanely woeful” Blacksmith, wishes to encourage in us once again.