Friday, February 15, 2008

Obama's Secular Revival & Charles Krauthammer et. al.

Obamamania is sweeping the secular left in the form of a messianic cult. Here is a round-up and some thoughts.


Charles Krauthammer weighs in today on the hopemongerer in chief:

There's no better path to success than getting people to buy a free commodity. Like the genius who figured out how to get people to pay for water: bottle it. . . .

And now, in the most amazing trick of all, a silver-tongued freshman senator has found a way to sell hope. To get it, you need only give him your vote. Barack Obama is getting millions.

This kind of sale is hardly new. Organized religion has been offering a similar commodity -- salvation -- for millennia. Which is why the Obama campaign has the feel of a religious revival with, as writer James Wolcott observed, a "salvational fervor" and "idealistic zeal divorced from any particular policy or cause and chariot-driven by pure euphoria."

"We are the hope of the future," sayeth Obama. We can "remake this world as it should be." Believe in me and I shall redeem not just you but your country -- nay, we can become "a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, and make this time different than all the rest."

. . . Interestingly, Obama has been able to win these electoral victories and dazzle crowds in one new jurisdiction after another, even as his mesmeric power has begun to arouse skepticism and misgivings among the mainstream media.

ABC's Jake Tapper notes the "Helter-Skelter cult-ish qualities" of "Obama worshipers," what Joel Stein of the Los Angeles Times calls "the Cult of Obama." Obama's Super Tuesday victory speech was a classic of the genre. Its effect was electric, eliciting a rhythmic fervor in the audience -- to such rhetorical nonsense as "We are the ones we've been waiting for. (Cheers, applause.) We are the change that we seek."

That was too much for Time's Joe Klein. "There was something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism," he wrote. "The message is becoming dangerously self-referential. The Obama campaign all too often is about how wonderful the Obama campaign is."

You might dismiss as hyperbole the complaint by the New York Times's Paul Krugman that "the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality." Until you hear Chris Matthews, who no longer has the excuse of youth, react to Obama's Potomac primary victory speech with "My, I felt this thrill going up my leg." When his MSNBC co-hosts tried to bail him out, he refused to recant. Not surprising for an acolyte who said that Obama "comes along, and he seems to have the answers. This is the New Testament." . . .

. . . Obama has an astonishingly empty paper trail. He's going around issuing promissory notes on the future that he can't possibly redeem. Promises to heal the world with negotiations with the likes of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Promises to transcend the conundrums of entitlement reform that require real and painful trade-offs and that have eluded solution for a generation. Promises to fund his other promises by a rapid withdrawal from an unpopular war -- with the hope, I suppose, that the (presumed) resulting increase in American prestige would compensate for the chaos to follow.

Democrats are worried that the Obama spell will break between the time of his nomination and the time of the election, and deny them the White House. My guess is that he can maintain the spell just past Inauguration Day. After which will come the awakening. It will be rude.

Read the entire article. You can also find some more thoughts on the nature of the cult of Obama:

Soccer Dad - Hope is Like Bottled Water

American Thinker - Obama's Politics of Collective Redemption

If you wish to see just how truly cultish and messianic the Obama campaign is becoming, do read through the thread on this forum discussing Obama and why the individuals on that site are for him.

Bookworm Room has a thoughtful post on this messianic effect Obama is having on his crowds:

I am not saying that Obama is Hitler. I am saying, however, that both his speaking style and the audience reaction to that style are typical of the connection between a demagogue and his audience. It’s not new, it’s been around for a while, but in an age of inarticulate politicians, we’re unused to it and have no resistance.

(A little historical note: my father, who escaped Hitler’s Germany in 1935, heard Hitler speak at a public rally. And my father, who was Jewish and therefore unlikely to be swayed by Hitler’s words, noticed exactly what Hillary’s friend said: His speeches were commonplace. It was his connection with his audience that was out of the ordinary.)

Read the entire post. She also sites to article by Daniel Henninger, deconstructing Obama's message and speaking style, and Dean Barnett, at the Weekly Standard, who compares the Obamamania effect of a full on teleprompter driven speech with the much less elevating permformance Obama gives when off the teleprompter.

As to the point Bookwormroom makes in her first paragraph, at the American Thinker blog, one individual wrote:

. . . Obama's speeches remind me of the sermons given by a preacher at one of those mega churches. They give feel good sermons using words like change and hope. Now a lot of conservatives go to church on a regular basis and they hear oratory like Obama gives all the time and they wonder what all the fuss is about. A lot of liberals on the other hand don't go to church and they have never heard "sermons" like this before and it really affects them emotionally. . . .

Read the entire article.

Part of the problem in dealing with Obama - a large part actually - is that he is an "identity politics" candidate. Thus, to criticize him or question him on any grounds whatsoever is to be challenged by his acolytes as an unfair attack on his identity.

Cheat Seeking Missiles - The Most Ridiculous Story of 2008? Part 2

American Thinker - The Audacity of Questioning Obama's Commitment to Israel

I find myself more than a bit concerned at Krauthammer's prediction. Everything about Obama - from his plan to withdraw from Iraq, take pressure off Iran and engage in talks, his economic ideas, etc. - seem a disaster in the making. There are several people out there who seem to think the Obama cult cannot survive the reality of a campaign against McCain. I am nowhere near as sanguine on that issue. I think that the realities of that campaign would weigh not at all on the secular converts to the religion of Obama. He will outraise McCain by tons of cash, his meaningless speeches will be saturating television and radio in one minute sound bites, and I think there is a real chance McCain could lose the coming election to Obama.

Some people disagree with me, and make very reasonable arguments in the process. For example, you can see Richard Baehr at American Thinker, who has some contrary thoughts on how this will play out. Rick Moran thinks that Obamimania is more like the Crusades than a cult, and that it can be successfully challenged. Big Lizards thinks that the Obama campaign will be unable to compete with the reality of McCain, writing in How the Democrats Will Attack McCain... and Fail Miserably.

There is some additional information being posted dealing with Obamanomics. WaPo tells us today that Clinton and Obama share a similar economic vision. Given Clinton's radical economic views, I find that distressing. The NY Post discusses the questionable tax policies Obama is advocating. PJM writes on Obama's hard left socialist economic tendencies. Rick Moran has an excellent post out on both Clinton and Obama's health care proposals - Mandate me, baby. And The QandO Blog has an interesting post on Obama, Exxon Mobil, Economics and Populism.

Update: And see this very good round-up at Right Truth, that includes a look at relative tax rates proposed by the candidates.


Dinah Lord said...

Pardon my blog pimpage, GW.

But Muslims for Obama have put up a really creepy video in support of their new American Messiah. It's totally wack and makes one think of Leni Riefenstahl.

Excellent piece, btw.

"hopemongerer in chief." Heh.

Debbie said...

I was scared before reading this post, not I think I will run for the hills, hide in the cabin and wait for the end of the world as we know it.

Seriously, Obama's hold on people is something we have not seen, at least not in my lifetime. It's truly scary. No other way to describe it.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth