Hood on the Portraits

Gregory Hood weighs in on the Mr. & Mrs. Obama “Affirmative-Action Portraits”:

Third-rate portraits portend a Third-World nation.

When the collapse begins, people generally don’t realize it. Rarely do statesmen acknowledge the Golden Age of their nation has passed; every leader tells his people their best days lie ahead. And the rituals of statecraft, above all, are designed to impose a sense of continuity and eternity. The nation is forever, the state is uncontested, and the polity is essentially the same as it was when it was founded. Even a revolutionary regime tries to co-opt the legitimacy of its predecessors, not confess to the masses that it is composed of mediocrities and frauds. Decline is usually subtle.

Except when it’s not. Like when the official paintings of Barack and Michelle Obama were unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery on Monday…

When an entire nation has to pretend representations of its former first couple are great works of art rather than two glorified participation trophies, the nation loses its self-respect…

There comes a point when an honor from a mainstream cultural institution becomes self-discrediting. We have an affirmative-action culture, in which “access” to institutions is prized over accomplishment, talent, or even meaning. America has become an affirmative-action nation.

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