Greg Cochran points out a profound change in American culture: from celebrating and promoting heroes of accomplishment to doing the same for heroes of suffering. Consider two war heroes-turned politicians. Dwight Eisenhower got the 1952 GOP nomination because of his accomplishments even though he didn't suffer much for them -- he was never in combat in his life. But organizing D-Day and managing the Anglo-American coalition suggested he had what it takes to perform well the day-to-day work of the Presidency during a particularly scary part of the Cold War. In contrast, John McCain is likely to get the 2008 GOP nomination in large measure because of his tremendous suffering during the Vietnam War, although he never accomplished all that much in the military.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are granted Honorary Heroes of Suffering status because of their being non-white males. Moreover, Hillary attained Presidential Timberhood by suffering through her husband's public infidelity.
Similarly, Obama's autobiography is pure emo rock: Yes, I know, sitting on the beach in Hawaii smoking dope may sound like a pretty soft life to you, but it was hell to me because of my"story of race and inheritance." The drugs were just “something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind . . .”
So, he had to go Suffer with His People on the South Side of Chicago for four years. Sure, he didn't accomplish anything in those four years, other than once helping Mau-Mau the all-black Chicago Housing Authority into removing some asbestos from a housing project, but that's not the point. The point is that he suffered.
In contrast, Mitt Romney, who, among other accomplishments (none of them D-Day scale, of course), saved the 2002 Winter Olympics (which by the way, were much better run than the embarrassing 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta), proved so unpopular that he dropped out today.