March 13, 2008


Obama Fatigue: The dangers of an elite celebrity candidacy. (Yuval Levin, March 8, 2008, National Review)

America's cultural elites are easily swept up in fashionable new idealisms, especially those that confirm their existing predilections and demand no serious personal sacrifice. But the culture of cool is also powerfully allergic to forthright displays of devotion and fervor. Its most powerful weapon is sarcasm, and the kind of piety on display in the Obama movement seems to beg for sarcastic deflation. Can we doubt that a South Park episode concluding in the handing out of Kool-Aid at an Obama rally is forthcoming?

Can Jon Stewart's Daily Show put up with statements like Halle Barry's above for long before letting loose a massive assault on the whole endeavor? How long can a politician go around saying "we are the ones we've been waiting for" before a sharp and memorable punch line leaves him with a nasty lasting bruise? And how will Obama's young followers respond when forced to choose between the movement to change the world and the snide knowing chuckle?

The frantic pace of our cultural trends means Obama is running a very serious risk of making his most ardent supporters tired of him very quickly. A nasty turn in his press coverage in just the past week offers Obama an ominous preview of how that could feel. This may not be his fault, but it is certainly his problem.

Meanwhile, one crucial Democratic constituency may be tired of the show already. The elitist drift of Obama's campaign inevitably weakens his appeal among blue-collar voters. And in this regard, it is more than the messianic excesses on the stump, but Obama's style and personal history that could bring him lasting trouble. Throughout the Democratic primary season, we have witnessed a significant divide between highly educated white-collar voters and less educated blue-collar voters -- a pattern powerfully evident in this week's results in Ohio. Obama's performance with black voters has masked some of this, but if you examine the white vote in state after state, you find that Barack Obama is the Ph.D.'s candidate, and Hillary Clinton the working stiff's candidate.

This is not entirely shocking of course. Obama -- a son of two Ph.D.s, married to a J.D., and possessed of one himself -- is, apart from his race, the epitome of the contemporary American upper class.

Nominating a fad in the Winter to run in the Fall would certainly seem a dubious strategy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 13, 2008 1:37 PM

Well snark is a powerful weapon, but true believers in an increasingly monolithic party (tow every line or you will be tossed into the outer darkness where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth and Joe Lieberman) can do a pretty good job of intimidation, and that too is a powerful weapon.

On the other hand, watching the commissars purge themselves is very entertaining.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 13, 2008 3:21 PM

"toe the line"
I knew that.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 13, 2008 3:32 PM

C'mon, why doesn't anyone mention The Obamadhi's true disqualification: His (and his wife's) association with the University of Chicago.

(Did they change the name? Back when I worked at Chicago Lying-In, it was "the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics". )

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 13, 2008 6:27 PM

The collective ego may have a thick boundary, but so did Mr. Creosote's gut. The incoming tiny morsels are additive.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 13, 2008 6:57 PM

Does anyone have a link to Obama's white family, you know the ones who raised him in the Chicago ghetto located in Oahu?

Posted by: erp at March 14, 2008 8:26 AM