A triumphant President Obama is being depicted as the French general and emperor Napoleon on the cover of the latest Newsweek.
The illustration of Obama wearing a blue-and-gold waistcoat, looking like a haughty emperor with the White House in the background, is accompanied by the headline: “The Obama Conquest, Lucky General or Master of the Game?”
The image is sure to draw plenty of praise and scorn. At first glance, the comparison seems apt, since Napoleon is considered a military genius who was always several steps ahead of his opponents as he led the French army to conquer most of Europe in the early 1800’s. Obama’s resounding victory over Romney is already burnishing his image as a master campaign strategist who had the electoral college locked up before the campaign even began with his superior ground game and registration advantages.
But in asking whether Obama’s wins are the result of “luck,” Newsweek will surely piss off many Obama loyalists. With back-to-back decisive wins, with substantial evidence of the years of planning that went into the Obama strategy, with the president’s beginnings as a community organizer being employed in devising a ground game that activated turnout better than any campaign in modern history, many people will wonder why the word “luck” is entering the picture.
There will also be musings about whether Newsweek was referring to the president as a petty tyrant, which is the modern characterization of Napoleon—so much so that the psychological community actually came up with the term “Napoleonic complex” in the early 1900’s to describe someone who has an overbearing personality to make up for his small stature. Clearly the 6-2 Obama is not height-challenged, so that part of the Napoleon comparison doesn’t work—though a closer examination of the average male heights in the early 1800’s revealed that Napoleon was about 5-7, which was average height for men at the time. So a century of psychological evaluation of short obnoxious men was actually based on incorrect information.
In the end, General Obama is likely to not worry much about the Newsweek depiction as he has more important matters to occupy him, such as the running of the globe.
Incidentally the magazine has announced that at the end of the year it will revert to just an online version—but it will continue to produce covers for its tablet format.