It's tough being Everyman.

Way back when, before the angry and antic prophet Jeremiah rose to smite him, Barack Obama appeared before us as an open presidential vessel, into which many poured their political dreams.

Foremost were black Americans. Bill Clinton famously diminished the Obama candidacy during the South Carolina primary as just one more Jesse Jackson fling. But across the black community, support for this candidate clearly had deeper roots. Head to head against Hillary, he has been getting huge majorities of the black vote. This was their moment.

Upscale white voters signed on and were belittled as liberals exorcising white guilt. Maybe, but for many Obama was also the un-Bush and un-Hillary.

Independents worn down by 16 years of Red-Blue trench warfare bought the "change" promise. Obama sounded like he could pull it off. Indies like to dream.

Brand-name Democrats, such as various members of the Kennedy aristocracy, went over, calculating it might be easier to push the party forward with Obama's lightness of being than the Clintons' boxcars of baggage.

The periodic ideals of young America we know about.

Even as they watched Barack win, pundits and reporters were agog that a one-term, black-American senator from Illinois could have such an effect. This pickup-team coalition of idealists and pols, led by a virtual Luke Skywalker, was on the brink of pushing the Clinton empire over the cliff. It made the Clintons crazy.

This week we learned the limit of a dream in American politics. At Barack Obama's darkest hour, not one prominent ally came forward to support him. Everyone abandoned Everyman.

No prominent black clergyman came forth to make even the simple point that Jeremiah Wright's notion of the "black church" is but one point on a spectrum of faith. Rev. Wright, now written off as a virtual nut case, got more support from black clergymen than did Obama.

Barack Obama was bleeding by Monday and needed cover.

Where, when he could have used them, were Obama's oh-so-famous endorsers: Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, Oprah, John Kerry, Chris Dodd, Patrick Leahy, Tom Daschle, Amy Klobuchar, Claire McCaskill, Jay Rockefeller, John Lewis, Toni Morrison, Roger Wilkins, Eric Holder, Robert Reich, Ted Sorenson, Alice Walker, David Wilhelm, Cornel West, Clifford Alexander, Donald McHenry, Patricia Wald, Newton Minow?

Where were all the big-city mayors who went over to the Obama camp: Chicago's Richard Daley, Cleveland's Frank Jackson, Atlanta's Shirley Franklin, Washington's Adrian Fenty, Newark's Cory Booker, Baltimore's Sheila Dixon?

It isn't hard for big names to get on talk TV to make a point. Any major op-ed page would have stopped the presses to print a statement of support from Ted Kennedy or such for the senator. None appeared. Call it profiles in gopher-holing.

Blogs and Web sites are overflowing with how this meltdown is largely of Barack Obama's own making. What difference does that make? He is not running for class president; he's running for the presidency of the United States. Even at the crudest level of political calculation and cowardice, there's a point in a presidential race when a candidate's supporters are all in. We passed that point weeks ago. It's him or her.

Analysts and historians will spend years sorting through the lessons of this most bizarre of all presidential campaigns. The Obama desertion points in a few directions.

The nature of modern media coverage and the length of the campaign (two years!) has made these presidential candidates truly larger than life; indeed, they've become almost cartoon-like. Their personas dwarf and overwhelm the parties to which they nominally belong.

As entities, the parties continue to recede. The Democratic superdelegates, created to represent the party's interests, look like deer frozen in the headlights of the two candidates' roaring tractor trailers.

As for the supersized candidates, what strikes one most about them is their "aloneness." They look so solitary. Indeed, it is possible that the old and honorable notion of "standing with" a candidate like Obama simply didn't occur to his famous supporters this week.

Everyone has become used to watching celebrity stars and athletes take it in the neck on their own. Even someone running for the nation's presidency looks like just another personal crack-up.

What about the voters the average Joes and Janes showing up in record numbers in formerly obscure primary states? It's wonderful to learn so much about the politics of Rhode Island, eastern Indiana or swaths of central Pennsylvania, and the candidates themselves are pressing more retail political flesh than ever. The result, though, is pretty clinical data flowing into exit-poll categories whose fluctuating post-primary percentages are somehow more exciting than, well, real people.

The list is long this week of supporters who let Barack Obama hang out to dry. More than a few were last seen running out on Hillary Clinton. Perhaps the solution here is for the two soloists to meet, flip a coin, and spend the next six months as a pair running against John McCain. It looks like they're the only friends they've got.

Wonder Land - WSJ.com