When love begins to sicken and decay,
It useth an enforcèd ceremony.
There are no tricks in plain and simple faith.
But hollow men, like horses hot at hand,
Make gallant show and promise of their mettle.
So spoke Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and he might as well be speaking about Barack Obama.
What happened to the idealistic, bright young president who lifted the world’s heart as he took his throne? How was he so thoroughly compromised in just two and a half years that he found himself addressing a stonily silent United Nations general assembly, mouthing empty platitudes about a Palestinian state being achieved by negotiation?
Barack Obama is a highly intelligent man, an academic, an intellectual, and his inner being must have cringed as he repeated the empty formulas he had been given to read out. He knows perfectly well that his speech was crafted between Washington and Tel Aviv and he must know, unless he is a fool, which he is not, that what he spoke was empty nonsense.
There will be no negotiation with the Israeli settlers whose only aim is to drive all others out of the land they covet. These are not people who negotiate. Already, whatever tatters of Palestinian territory remain are so torn to pieces that they cannot possibly function as a state even if agreement is reached tomorrow and yet Barack Obama urged the Palestinians to be reasonable.
What sort of cynicism is this?
Has America become such a slave to appearance, to the media and to the superficial that nothing matters any more? There’s no doubt that Barack Obama is a very accomplished public speaker, and there’s no doubt that he delivers a fine oration. But it seems that his fine words and his immaculate delivery are masking a moral void. In many ways, and I never thought I’d be saying this, there seems to be little difference between Barack Obama and George W Bush.
Shakespeare put it one way, Eliot another, and both are accurate.
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
How sad that Barack Obama turns out to be a hollow man.