Craig Karpel is a recovering addict. He says so himself. His addiction is to Barack Obama, and his recovery inspires him to write a book. He offers a 12-step program, patterned after the program that has rescued thousands of town drunks.
He’s a confirmed Obamaholic, but he doesn’t blame the president. He absolves Mr. Obama of blame for the addiction to the messiah from the South Side of Chicago that turned so many healthy Americans into junkies. His book has created a bit of a buzz already.
“My name is Craig K.,” he says in the opening line of “The 12-Step Guide for the Recovering Obama Voter,” published by HarperCollins’ Broadside Books.
“I’m an Obamaholic. Welcome to what Alcoholics Anonymous would call a ‘meeting in print.’ We’re here to admit to each other and to ourselves that the Obama presidency isn’t Obama’s fault — it’s ours. We should be impeached for having elected him.”
Though the collective stupor induced by Mr. Obama’s speechifying four years ago is finally dissolving, little by little, there’s still a lot of stupor out there. Gallup only this week said Mitt Romney has edged ahead of the president in a national poll of voters, but what is remarkable to the sober observer is that Mr. Obama is keeping it close, given the unholy mess he has made of the economy.
The president offers words, pretty enough but not much consolation to someone desperate for a job. He correctly figured in 2008 that since few voters in his left-wing base had ever been to church or heard good preaching, his own skill with words would be taken for seductive eloquence. He adopted the pitch and cadence of the black pulpit, and though there are hundreds of black (and white) pulpitmasters who can preach rings around him, the swindle worked. Addiction, particularly among those who imagine themselves the elite, blossomed like the deadly nightshade.
Only a 12-step program, writes Mr. Karpel, can free the naive and clueless from an imprisoned mind. Mr. Karpel is no right-wing zealot. His book is neither rave nor rant. He was once, like the president, a left-wing community organizer. He once wrote speeches for Abbie Hoffman. He mocks the soft, gooey language of quackery, of the frauds who have turned once-sturdy verbs into the soggy language of academics, therapists and charlatans. “We urgently need to embark on a 12-step program that will enable us to heal.”
He argues that the election of Mr. Obama was the triumph of biography over achievement, of empty promise over performance, the result of aspiring to elitism.
“Outside of technical fields, proverbially brain surgery and rocket science,” he says, “academic credentials are an indication not of achievement, but of promise.” Mr. Obama posed as a Harvard scholar, but since he has resolutely refused to release any evidence of student prowess, we don’t know whether he was the academic genius he assures us he was or a fraud laughing at how easy it was to fool so many people.
Only by taking 12 measured steps can voters cure themselves of addiction to the idea that there’s a solution for every problem, to the temptation to find someone to blame for frustration and disappointment, for the addiction to denial, and finally to recognize the importance of attaining what he calls voting sobriety.
“Even when we realized this president was incompetent,” he writes, “we were in denial about our own incompetence as voters.”
Mr. Karpel, eager though he is to repent and make amends, may well be embarked on a fool’s errand. The elites are unlikely to see their practiced error in judgment; how can anyone with a Ph.D. be so wrong when he’s so sincere? But there may be hope for enough of the rest of us.
Obamania, in this view, has the classic features of addiction: the buzz, the rush, the flush, the high, the euphoric contentment. “And now we’re experiencing the inevitable comedown: the crash, the craving when the addiction isn’t satisfying, the misery of withdrawal.”
Only with recovery can addicts begin to cast sober ballots. No more dream of being delivered into a fairy tale kingdom of Arthurian legend. “The president’s job isn’t to pull a sword out of a stone. It’s to manage the nation’s government and to inspire Americans to be their best selves.”
Mr. Karpel is correct that we’ve become a culture addicted to wishes and dreams, in which celebrity reigns and entertainment is all. The circus is fun, and addiction feels good for a little while. But there may be hope for change. Who wants to be the town drunk forever?
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.