Thursday, February 07, 2008

Obama and Mass Messianism

I don't know if you've noticed, but this election has been truly bizarre, which, of course, makes it very interesting to observe, if only from an academic perspective, which would be fine, if so many important issues weren't also in play. Getting away from the Republican weirdness for the moment, let's look at some of the truly bizarre goings-on on the Democratic side.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one weirded-out by all of the strange messianic language surrounding the Obama campaign right now. Mark Shea notes several things. He quotes Jake Tapper at ABC News:
Inspiration is nice. But some folks seem to be getting out of hand.

It's as if Tom Daschle descended from on high saying, "Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of Chicago a Savior, who is Barack the Democrat."

Obama supporter Kathleen Geier writes that she's "getting increasingly weirded out" by some of Obama's supporters...

Describing various encounters with Obama supporters, she writes, "Excuse me, but this sounds more like a cult than a political campaign. The language used here is the language of evangelical Christianity – the Obama volunteers speak of 'coming to Obama' in the same way born-again Christians talk about 'coming to Jesus.'
Joe Klein, from Time Magazine, notes some things about Obama's Super Tuesday speech:
And yet there was something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism — "We are the ones we've been waiting for" — of the Super Tuesday speech and the recent turn of the Obama campaign. "This time can be different because this campaign for the presidency of the United States of America is different. It's different not because of me. It's different because of you." That is not just maddeningly vague but also disingenuous: the campaign is entirely about Obama and his ability to inspire. Rather than focusing on any specific issue or cause — other than an amorphous desire for change — the message is becoming dangerously self-referential. The Obama campaign all too often is about how wonderful the Obama campaign is.
The gift of the master of rhetoric.

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