Why do we expect President Obama to plug the Gulf oil leak, squelch the Taliban, reconcile the Israelis and Palestinians, and forge a global treaty on greenhouse gases? Because "Americans like to read politics and history as a tale of the Great Man," Paul Starobin writes in the Washington Post. We're "eager subscribers to the Hercules myth of how the world works," and Obama in particular seems more than happy to play into that myth.
Liberals should remember that FDR "was not a magician either" and conservatives "might be reminded that the world was not exactly plastic to the touch of Ronald Reagan." Just as "it took an economy on war footing to end the Great Depression—and it took Stalin's Red Army to mete out a lethal blow to the Nazis," Obama will not single-handedly cure the world's ills, either. The Hercules myth is "a child's fantasy—this innocent faith in masters of the universe," and it's time, Starobin urges, for America to just "grow up."