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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Obama personality cult

As I mentioned in this post, some pundits are getting a little weirded out by the creepiness of some of Barack Obama's supporters. Want more? Check out this website: Is Barack Obama the Messiah? Some highlights:

A big black vehicle came past, escorted front and back by mounted police to hold the crowds away. People rushed forward screaming hysterically. Police edged them back and the vehicle moved slowly forward. I asked a woman, “Who was that?” She’d been one of those who pushed herself up toward the SUV. She turned to me as if I were out of my mind, “It was HIM!” she yelled. “But,” I questioned, “how do you know? All the windows were darkened.” She replied, “I felt it.”
Seattleite Wendy Malabuyo, a 31-year-old engineer, said she couldn't name any specific accomplishments that qualified Obama to be president but pointed to his career of "serving the underserved" in Chicago after graduation from Harvard.
"He inspires me. I can't even say. … He gives me so much hope," Malabuyo said. "It makes me feel like something will actually change. So I'm speechless. I love him. I love everything he stands for. I love everything that he can bring to this country. And we just need to get him there."
Asked what the senator has accomplished that makes him fit to become president, Cruce said: "Well, I think the biggest thing is he is like a key. He's going to unlock a door that's going to allow us now to pass and finally be able to do some things we would like to do. There are not going to be as many barriers as there have in the past."
Jan Young, 56, of Maple Grove, said the size and diversity of the crowd was unlike anything she had seen in politics in her lifetime. "It's almost like the Messiah, you know?" said Young, a woman who said she originally backed Clinton but was drawn to Obama over the last year. "People really, really want change, and you feel it. You don't just hear it -- you feel something coming from him."
"He looked at me, and the look in his eyes was worth 1,000 words," said Mack, now a regional field organizer. Obama hugged her and whispered something in her ear – she was so thrilled she doesn't remember what it was.
"My job is to be so persuasive that if there's anybody left out there who is still not sure whether they will vote, or is still not clear who they will vote for, that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany ... and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama"
. . . Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence. . . .

This is getting a little unsettling. Obama's primary campaign has become almost completely self-referential, and primary voters in the US are being swept up in a wave of hysteria generated by a charismatic demagogue who says almost nothing substantive about policy of any kind. This can't end well.

1 comment:

GrannyGrump said...

It reminds me of Harold Saxon from "Doctor Who" -- a malevolent space alien who assumed human form, appeared virtually out of nowhere, and became Prime Minister of Great Britain. Both The Doctor's companions admit that they voted for Saxon, but can't say why, can't name a single policy of his, a single stand that he took. He just made them feel hopeful.

Obama's no space alien, but there's something inherently evil in rising to power that way, on being The Rorschach Candidate that everybody sees with different eyes but everybody follows unquestioningly.