Mark Lilla: I need a level-headed conservative to explain this to me, and Charles R. Kesler seems an excellent candidate…. [W]hen Kesler begins his book by dismissing those who portray the president as “a third-world daddy’s boy, Alinskyist agitator, deep-cover Muslim or undocumented alien” the reader is relieved to know that “I Am the Change” won’t be another cheap, deflationary takedown. Instead, it is that rarest of things, a cheap inflationary takedown — a book that so exaggerates the historical significance of this four-year senator from Illinois, who’s been at his new job even less time, that he becomes both Alien and Predator. Granted, there is something about Obama that invites psychological projection, notably by Scandinavians bearing gifts. But Kesler outdoes the Nobel Prize committee by raising the Obama presidency to world-historical significance, constructing a fanciful genealogy of modern liberalism that begins just after the French Revolution in the works of the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel; passes through Karl Marx and Charles Darwin and Oswald Spengler; and culminates in … “The Audacity of Hope” and 2,000-plus pages of technical jargon in the Affordable Care Act. It’s some performance, and actually quite helpful. A sense of proportion, once the conservative virtue, is considered treasonous on the right today, and Kesler cannot be accused of harboring one. But his systematic exaggerations demonstrate that the right’s rage against Obama, which has seeped out into the general public, has very little to do with anything the president has or hasn’t done. It’s really directed against the historical process they believe has made America what it is today. The conservative mind, a repository of fresh ideas just two decades ago, is now little more than a click-click slide projector holding a tray of apocalyptic images of modern life that keeps spinning around, raising the viewer’s fever with every rotation. If you want to experience what it’s like to be within that mind on a better day, then you need to visit “I Am the Change.