“More important, any American who’s watched television and hung out on the internet for the past ten years must understand that Obama’s struggles with authority theater are of a piece with the times. How could our society possibly generate a different dynamic inside the beltway? Instinctual decency, grateful subservience, respect for symbols—these attributes belong to a culture that many of the president’s most enthusiastic supporters view as an unfree relic that has to be smashed into bits for progress to be possible.
The discrediting of authority is hardly restricted to politics and journalism. From porn to music to education, deference to big players and established institutions is out, and doing it yourself is in. Respectable opinion leaders, Barack Obama included, fear the rise of a politics which requires Americans to fend for themselves. Yet for decades we have poured our energy into a culture that denies authority to anyone telling you what to do, and no one really pines for the good old days except for the nostalgists writing columns for the New York Times.”