From Josephus it appears that in the first century before the destruction of the Temple a number of Messiahs arose promising relief from the Roman yoke, and finding ready followers. Josephus speaks of them thus:
"Another body of wicked men also sprung up .... they were deceivers and deluders of the people, and, under pretense of divine illumination, were for innovations and changes, and prevailed on the multitude to act like madmen..." (Josephus... ii. 13, §; 4; idem, "Ant." xx. 8, §; 6)
Now if I were in charge of editing Maureen Dowd, I would have said something along the lines of "the fall of false messiahs" rather than "the mighty," but obviously some people did see Obama as "mighty" -- having, characterized by, or showing superior power or strength; great in amount, extent, degree or importance, exceptional -- even if I never did.
At any rate Dowd is not too keen on the president and although this may be only a fleeting ripple effect from Bill Clinton's recent remarks, she writes -- somewhat bitterly:
.... The president who started off with such dazzle now seems incapable of stimulating either the economy or the voters. His campaign is offering Obama 2012 car magnets for a donation of $10; cat collars reading “I Meow for Michelle” for $12; an Obama grill spatula for $40, and discounted hoodies and T-shirts. How the mighty have fallen.
.... The legendary speaker who drew campaign crowds in the tens of thousands and inspired a dispirited nation ended up nonchalantly delegating to a pork-happy Congress, disdaining the bully pulpit, neglecting to do any L.B.J.-style grunt work with Congress and the American public, and ceding control of his narrative....
.... The president had lofty dreams of playing the great convener and conciliator. But at a fund-raiser in Minneapolis, he admitted he’s just another combatant in a capital full of Hatfields and McCoys.
No compromises, just nihilism.
A recent book about the president quotes his 1980's New York girlfriend, Genevieve Cook, (and her diaries from the time) at some length, and Dowd picks up the thread:
Cook told Maraniss that she thought Obama’s desire to “play out a superhero life” was “a very strong archetype in his personality.”
But superheroes and mythic figures must boldly lead. Obama’s caution — ingrained from a life of being deserted by his father and sometimes his mother, and of being, as he wrote to another girlfriend, “caught without a class, a structure, or tradition to support me” — has restrained him at times.
Only now, at this late date, are some folks noticing that perhaps growing up in a dysfunctional family, in which all (three) of your parents abandon you in one way or another, might have left Barry a bit damaged.
Daniel Greenfield expresses the same idea, from a different angle:
What do you talk about when you[']re handing out Medals of Freedom?
If you're Obama, you talk about the same thing that you always talk about. Your own greatness, your own pervasive specialness and the amazing historicity that someone whose middle name is that of a Muslim warlord and mass murderer is sitting in the White House.No one ever picks up a guitar, or fights a disease, or starts a movement, thinking: 'You know what? If I keep this up, in 2012 I could get a medal in the White House from a guy named Barack Obama.' That wasn't in the plan. But that's exactly what makes this award so special, Obama said."
Is this some kind of mental illness? I'm asking this as a serious question. Does Obama walk into pizza shops and give his order as, "You probably never thought that in the year 2012 you would be getting an order for a deep dish pizza with extra boiled arugula and squid on top from a guy named Barack Obama, a happening dude who happens to live in the White House, and who is influencing your life and mine in many special ways."
At this point if I ever met Obama, I would just have to ask him, "What the hell is wrong with you? Did you not get enough attention as a child?"
And me? Being that I'm not as bitter as Dowd and less clever than Daniel, I'm afraid I have little to add other than to note: When I see Obama and pizza in the same sentence what occurs to me is not arugula, but "pupperoni."