February 16, 2008


You Say You Want a Revolution: Political worshippers of the new Messiah. (Mark Steyn, 2/16/08, National Review)

The Bush-assassination fantasies are concocted by his political opponents and at least arise from his acts — invading the world; slaughtering 14 million Iraqi civilians or whatever it’s up to by now; shredding the constitution. By contrast, the Obama-assassination porn is written by his worshippers and testifies to one of the most palpable features of the senator’s campaign — its faintly ersatz quality, its determination to appropriate Camelot and every other mythic narrative. A few days ago, a local news team went to shoot some film at the Houston campaign headquarters for Obama. Behind the desks of the perky gals answering the phones were posters of Che Guevara and Cuban flags. Needless to say, the news reporters were either indifferent to this curious veneration or too sensitive to mention it, and it was left to the right-wing extremist Roy Rogers fascists of the blogosphere to point it out.

Do Obama’s volunteers even know who Che is? Apart from being a really cool guy on posters and T-shirts, like James Dean or Bart Simpson, I doubt it. They’re pseudo-revolutionaries. Very few people in America want a real revolution: Life is great, this is a terrific country, with unparalleled economic opportunities. To be sure, it’s a tougher break if you have the misfortune to be the victim of one of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs or a decrepit inner-city grade school with a higher per-student budget than the wealthiest parts of Switzerland. But even so, to be born a U.S. citizen is, as Cecil Rhodes once said of England, to win first prize in the lottery of life. Not even Obama supporters want real revolution: They’re messy, your cities get torched, the economy collapses, much of your talent flees. Ask the many peoples around the world for whom revolution means not a lame-o Sixties poster above your desk but the carnage and horror of the day before yesterday.

Poor mean vengeful Hillary, heading for a one-way ticket on the oblivion express, has a point. Barack Obama is an elevator Muzak dinner-theater reduction of all the glibbest hand-me-down myths in liberal iconography — which is probably why he’s a shoo-in. The problems facing America — unsustainable entitlements, broken borders, nuclearizing enemies — require tough solutions not gaseous Sesame Street platitudes. But, unlike the whose-turn-is-it? GOP, Mrs. Clinton’s crowd generally picks the new kid on the block: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. I wonder if Hillary Rodham, Goldwater Girl of 1964, ever wishes she’s stuck with her original party.

Obama Casts His Spell (Charles Krauthammer, 2/16/08, Real Clear Politics)
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 (Aquafina was revealed to be nothing more than reprocessed tap water) and charge more than they pay for gasoline. Or consider how Google found a way to sell dictionary nouns -- boat, shoe, clock -- by charging advertisers zillions to be listed whenever the word is searched.

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."

It's asking a lot even of the black Jesus to keep this state of euphoria going for another 9 months. The length of the American presidential election process is poison to flavors of the month.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2008 9:42 AM

So that's it, Obama is the winner? No total war between him and Hillary?

Posted by: Perry at February 16, 2008 11:47 AM

George McGovern inspired such excitement, too.

"I love you, prairie populist!" (a Yalie, from Doonesbury).

And in November, he got 39%. Obama may struggle to get that, once his votes (and avoidance of them) is known. People can defend policy decisions, but no one can defend purposed obfuscation, especially for 9 months.

The press is cheering for Obama now, but he can't ride that until November. Lots of Republicans are mewling about having to face his oratory in the campaign, but that's just silly. He can't orate his way out of probing ads, his middle name, his reed-thin record, and he can't orate his way out of 3 debates. Nor can he orate his way out of the incredible lightness of his being. Voters under 30 can pick him all they want, and President McCain will be inaugurated with a record win.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 16, 2008 6:19 PM

As a good Dem, I am trying hard to consider Senator Obama should Hil not get her big mo back but, damn, four more years of a person and his followers who believe they are "destined" (Bush speak: called by God) scare me silly.


Posted by: Susan at February 16, 2008 8:48 PM

Susan, just out of curiosity, who are you called by? Yourself?

Posted by: Randall Voth at February 16, 2008 10:53 PM