Sunday, January 3, 2010

Obama: The God That's Failing

What happens when you invest your hopes and dreams, your reputation and your dignity, your future and the future of your children in someone who turns out not to be who you thought he was?

What happens when your god turns out to be a Pied Piper, promising salvation and bringing doom? Or worse, when he is not even a passably competent president?

How well do we understand the process of disappointment, especially when it involves our investment in political leadership?

If we do not fully grasp this psychological phenomenon now, the Obama presidency is going to provide us with much more than we ever wanted to know about it.

Take today, for example. The upper 48 states, plus Alaska, is suffering through one of the worst cold spells in memory. Our president is vacationing in Hawaii, soaking up the sun and surf and golf.

He may not have gone to the ends of the earth, but Obama certainly went to the furthest national perimeter to find a place where he could still feel global warming.

As people freeze to death in Chicago, our president has donned some silly-looking shorts to go out and play golf. As the Florida citrus crop is nearly destroyed by the cold spell Obama takes his daughters out for some shaved ice.

How many in the press, unwilling to see that their god is failing, have pointed out the dissonance?

For a little perspective, turn back the clock to the worst days of World War II in England. Night after night the Luftwaffe was bombing London. The King and Queen insisted on staying in town, in Buckingham Palace. Eventually, part of the Palace was attacked and damaged.

To which the Queen of England responded that she was glad to have been hit: "Now I can look the East End in the face."

True leaders share the hardships of their people. They do not run off for some rest and recreation. As Ann Althouse has stated, presidents should not be taking beach vacations in the middle of the winter, and they should certainly not appear to be fatigued, in need of rest.

By now everyone knows that Obama evinces an otherworldly emotional detachment. He is a type of unmoved mover; someone who produces emotional excesses in others while remaining strangely and eerily above it all.

And yet, unmoved is not the same as absent, not in charge, not up to the job, unwilling or unable to assume the responsibilities of his office.

The message is starting to get through to Obama supporters. And they are reacting, as one might expect, emotionally. One liberal blogger, whose name I cannot recall, was driven to such an extreme of despair that he even admitted to looking forward to President Palin!

Some leftists are beginning to denounce Obama for not being sufficiently left-wing. If they really believe what they are saying, they are fooling themselves.

If Obama were seen as a successful president, if the nation were rallying around his agenda, if his poll numbers were rising, then, I believe, these same leftists would be cheering from the rooftops.

They are chagrined because they see their hopes and their dreams, their future, and especially their future power being compromised by someone whose ineptitude they never grasped.

How did they ever imagine that someone with so little experience and such a flimsy resume could possibly walk into the White House, assume the office of the presidency, and turn the nation radically to the left?

If you ask what they were thinking, the answer is that they weren't.

Of course, they will turn on their god before they will question their own judgment. If Obama has to be sacrificed so that they can still believe in their own sublime intelligence, so be it.

When you invest it all in the wrong stock or the wrong team or the wrong manager you are going to go to the greatest of lengths to rationalize your failure: the game was rigged, the opponents were cheating, the god was a Madoff.

Obama's supporters did not get what they voted for; they did not get what he promised them; they did not get what the press told them they were going to get; they did not get what their hearts so desperately wanted to believe they would get.

People who pride themselves on their intelligence, who constantly tax their opponents for stupidity, just got taken in by the world's oldest political confidence game... the lure and the siren-song of the demagogue.

The demagogue does not appeal to reason; the demagogue traffics in false promises; the demagogue manipulates people by tapping into their intellectual insecurities and convincing them to follow their emotions.

Far too many otherwise sensible and intelligent people got seduced by Barack Obama. They believed because they wanted to believe; they believed because they had to believe... in him, in his cause, in his power to save the republic.

They felt strongly; they felt deeply that this man would be everything they had ever wanted. Like any good seducer Obama told people exactly what they wanted to hear; he became the living version of the god of their dreams.

Somehow, they never asked themselves whether it could all be true. They took it on faith; they took it on hope; they took it as a sign that they were being called upon to love him, to love him beyond reason. Their love, coupled with his, would lead them to a new world of hope and change.

Like the stock market, disappointment and disillusionment does not just move in one direction. At some point, Obama's poll numbers will start to rise again-- which may well correspond to the moment when the stock market starts to fall again-- and true believers will be lured one last time into believing that they have not been duped.

And yet, the second crash is the worst. Then the last holdouts finally abandon all hope. When they discover for a second time that they were mistaken, that their god is not worthy of their love, they will start looking elsewhere.

Sophistry is surely not dead. Some of Obama's supporters, yearning for a truer god, one who will not fail them, will surely light on the idea that if the god failed them, then perhaps they really need a goddess.


booboo said...


The Western Chauvinist said...

Nicely said. "Sophistry" is a word that's been rattling around in my brain for a while now. I was recently reminded of it while reading VDH (or Krauthammer?) writing about the "sophisticates" in DC. I've decided my new retort to my liberal Obama supporting friends/family is going to be "that's very sophisticated" - served up with a wry smile and as William-Buckley-dry as a middle aged, mid-western, moderately educated housewife can manage.

Thanks for the ammo.