Monday, February 18, 2008

The Real Problem With Obamamania

Forget for a moment that Obama may (really!) have policy proposals; think, rather, about his speechification. A Georgetown prof takes it down for you.

For a campaign that so freely and frequently resorts to the language of "hope," Obama in fact evokes its exact opposite. His salvific and heretical language - reminiscent of the 19th-century rhetoric of Social Gospel such as that enunciated by Walter Rauschenbusch (whose grandson was Richard Rorty) or progressives like Herbert Croly and John Dewey, could in fact use a good dose of theological hope and its accompanying call to humility and realism. Indeed, what marks above all the fundamental similarity of all the candidates in the current election season is the absence of any such theologically-informed realism based on belief in the two cities of Augustine, such as that once articulated by Reinhold Niebuhr or later by Christopher Lasch in his "New Oxford Review" essays attacking gnosticism. But it is perhaps our own obsession with the race for the Presidency - burdened with attendant belief that its outcome might represent a fundamental and permanent improvement in our condition - that contributes to the overestimation of what is possible in politics, and now manifests itself in our longings for someone who will heal the world.

Gee, thanks!! With little modesty, I remind you, dear readers, that I was the one who brought up the error of seeking a "messiah-President"--then specifying Rudy Giuliani as the (R) version. That was before Obama was anything more than a Chicago ward-heeler looking for attention by running against America's Most Hated Woman. (Don't bother; I can't find the link. But try searching on Shark & Shepherd)


Bush was not immune to this "Messiah" complex:

In this sense, amid our readiness for "change, we should recognize a deeper consistency between the appeal of one who would "heal the world" and the messianism that has so often colored the language of our current President. Particularly pronounced in his Second Inaugural, President Bush declared that it was now the permanent intention of the United States to support freedom everywhere, with the "ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

This is one great peril of the overestimation of the human capacity to "heal the world": the willingness to allow optimism to overcome good sense, and at its worse to permit ideology to trump our flawed human reality. But it is, I suspect, the other peril that we will face with an Obama presidency, namely the disappointment that will set in when, inevitably, such healing of the world proves elusive. ...The prospects for disillusionment become ever more certain, the more we are tempted to convince ourselves, and are drawn to promises, that we await a future of "healing," "redemption," and paradisic contentment.

I should add that this monitum has a direct analogy in the "gun control" silliness. Those who propose that disarming Americans will result in zero-violent-deaths forever and evermore thereafter are just mini-Obamas.

Finally, let us not forget that disillusionment produces anger. See GWB for a case study.


Disgruntled Car Salesman said...

Nostradamus, the Aztecs and St. Malachy all predicted that the end of the world would come about what would roughly be December of 2012. St Malachy predicted the coat of arms of the last pope, B16, who is in power now. Nostradamus and St. Malachy also predicted the coming of the "Anti Christ." A saavy man who would convince the populous using propaganda to put their faith into his hands to solve all of the problems in the world. This syncs up... a little creepy.

Dad29 said...

First of all, it's "populACE"

Second, reading those folks for actualities is like believning that JFK was assasinated by the New Orleans DA, or that 9/11 was an inside job.

"You know not the time, nor the hour...."

That was meant, not just said.

Anonymous said...

So far I have seen Obama compared to Hitler a number of times, but this is the first time I have seen someone claim he is the anti-christ.

At this rate Obama is going to be lucky to make it to November with his life.

Tell me again how liberals are filled with hate...

Dad29 said...


That's not what I read in the text of my post. (You can ignore Disgruntled; I don't think he was thinking about 'anti-Christ' in his apocalyptic visions.)

Anyhow, Obama's wife is perfectly ready to step in if something goes wrong with the candidate--and if anyone kneecaps Obama, you should look for HRC's fingerprints.

Anonymous said...

I was referring to the car salesman with the anti-christ comment.

If HRC goes after Obama's knee caps Tanya Harding style would that make Bill Clinton her Jeff Gilooly?