Obama… Cult?

First they came for the Ron Paul supporters, and I remained silent, for Ron Paul supporters struck me as kind of nutty. (*)

There is something a bit disconcerting on the emerging narrative about Barack Obama, and the word “Cult”.  The thing is that going over the list of Democratic Party nominees, you almost would guess they have been super-sensitive toward this charge — going out of their way to nominate personality-less candidates that could not in any way transfix or emotionally connect to you with either empty or full platitudes.

So we arrive at a can’t win situation.  Politicians delving into policy focuses are derided and told that the electorate wants to know not so much anything on that score — a bit complex and nobody’s an expert on these intricate matters, but about “Values” that might inform such policies.  For good or bad, there we are, there Obama has staked his claim.  What does it get us?  “CULT!”  Hare Krishna, dangeditall.

And from no less a Democratic friendly than Paul Krugman.  But Krugman is a Clinton accolate, his editorial suffering from a “Remove the Log from your own eyes before pointing to the mote in the other’s” situation.

The other case of “can’t win” comes in the always present background noise about voter and political apathy, particularly with the Youth.  So when “The Youth”, or a lot of Youth, throw their lot in with a candidate (for better or worse, as indirect a manner it is, the way into the electoral political process) — they are derided once again.  It was something you saw in 2004 when Howard Dean “Deaniacs” were tarred as tattooed and pierced and purple haired freaks.

In a real way, all presidential campaigns are “Cults of Personality”, and there is no real way of getting around it.  To recall Dean again, it was with him that I came to this conclusion, sometime during his 2003 Summer campaign when I read through a blog description of an event, the blogger proudly pointing to a thousands-gathered crowd chanting (ahem) “We are Dean.”  Understand, I say this about a candidate I genereally liked, actually moreso than any other presidential candidate I’ve come across within the past three cycles, and who I was disappointed that I did not get to vote for — even as a useless symbol past his drop-out.  (A sort of “Identity politics” strikes me as important theme in voting, particularly because your one single vote rarely matters — think of the pride in having voted for and supported Goldwater or McGovern (or Eugene McCarthy) — and why I was annoyed by this news statement about Mike Huckabee voters.)

As for a political figure I do not think much of, I always go back to this New York Times Magazine cover:  here.

So, my thought experiment  goes like this:

The aliens come down to meet you. They say, “Take Me to Your Leader.” Who do you take them to?   Me? I think I wouldn’t know where to take them to. It’s easier as a child, there you can at least take them to your mom and dad, but now? I just don’t know.

Maybe the rule should be that you have it coming if you describe your political campaign as a “Movement”.  I am not going to stand foresquare behind your Barack Obama — I’m just not.  I wish I could take credibly the National Journal and subsequent Republican talking point ranking of “#1 Liberal Senator”, not necessarily for strict ideological reasons as because than I would be able to firmly place him somewhere beyond his impressive array of “Present” votes, and his speechifying would have something backing it up.  But this is what it is, and I suggest the nature of our political discourse has brought us to a point where this is sometimes optimum.  When eight years ago, I squinted at candidate Bush’s thin resume, I do so again and shrug.  But I have a faint warning in my gut: Obama has a steep electoral upside, which comes with a steep electoral downside.  I do not believe it is hard to conjure up the outlines of a massive negative onslaught against him which would leave one a little dizzy, wondering “That the Hell is wrong with our Society?”  It begins with items of racial innuendo — check your email box, please –  (Eventually I’ll come back toward this.)

— No, actually this is overshadowed at the moment by what is at hand… “Cult”.  Looking at the Machivelian trick, now dubbed Rovian, and onto the verb “Swift Boat”, it is a tad more nuanced than “Attack your opponent’s strength”.  The strength has to be shown to be a mask for a perceived weakness.  There was an underlying sense that Kerry was overplaying his Vietnam Service to get away from explaining national security  — something he with which wanted to place himself firmly in several camps.  Obama gets faced with this because his charisma and inspiring speech ends up, in the minds of many — and this is a criticism that Obama fans will just have to own up to and face whether they believe it or not themselves — thought of as a bunch of puffery not backed up with anything substantial.


(*) Or, you know… first they came for the Landon LaRoach supporters, but that actually is a Cult.  Which, I should be getting back to — I haven’t posted on that for a while, have I?

One Response to “Obama… Cult?”

  1. Ann Says:

    Seems like a cult to me. All the elements of cultism are there. It’s disturbing. Now I know how Hilter won Germany.

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