Obama’s postmodern detachment is feeble and parochial. It’s true that he hadn’t seen much of America until he ran for president, but he hadn’t seen much of anywhere else, either. Like most multiculturalists, he’s passed his entire adulthood in a very narrow unicultural environment where your ideological worldview doesn’t depend on anything so tedious as actually viewing the world. Ignatieff, who actually has viewed the world, gets close to the psychology in his response to criticisms of him for spending so much time abroad. Deploring such 'provincialism', he replied: 'They say it makes me less of a Canadian. It makes me more of a Canadian.'As one who has lived in many countries, my own experience is that it makes you a permanent outsider, unable to 'read' the mood of whatever country you're in, especially the one you were born into. What you are left with are the feeble tools of pragmatic observation and deductive reasoning, which count for very little in the balance of how societies work.
Age also alienates, as the sheer repetitiousness of collective human folly becomes personal when you live long enough to witness a full turn of the wheel, and yesterday's discredited dogmas become the shiny new orthodoxy of the chattering class. And it is of that cohort, permanently seeking enlightenment up its own collective fundament, that Steyn writes in one of his signature conclusions:
In recent months, a lot of Americans have said to me that they had no idea the new president would feel so 'weird'. But, in fact, he’s not weird. True, he’s not, even in Democratic terms, a political figure - as, say, Clinton or Biden are. Instead, he’s the product of the broader culture: there are millions of people like Barack Obama, the eternal students of a vast lethargic transnational campus for whom global compassion and the multicultural pose are merely the modish gloss on a cult of radical grandiose narcissism.