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.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday
...quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris.
Genesis 3:19
Making sense of extreme Republican Outrage!

Some conservative Republicans are contemplating voting for Hillary(!) in the national election should John McCain secure the Republican nomination. Roland Martin at CNN generalizes a bit, but he does make some sense here:
... with conservatives one seat away from having a majority on the Supreme Court and the next president having the power to name up to three justices, do you actually think the folks who've fought two generations to re-take the Court actually want to see three Clinton jurists?
I'm sure even the most conservative Republicans can make the best of a McCain nomination if only they use their brains. I think it was foolish to expect the perfect conservative to emerge who had any chance of appealing to independent voters and who could successfully trounce a Democrat in a national election -- not after the mess left behind by the Bush Administration. Now, issues do matter. But is committing suicide really the best option in this case? Perhaps the Republicans could've done better, but I'm quite certain they could've also done far worse.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Who is a RINO?

With all of the John McCain talk buzzing around, I'm hearing the term "RINO" ("Republican In Name Only") thrown around a lot lately. RINO is a term that has changed in meaning over the last several decades. The scope of my life isn't long enough to recollect it myself (I was born in the late 1970's, but I only remember Reagan). Wikipedia has a decent article outlining who has traditionally been considered RINO within the Republican Party and for what reasons. You might be surprised... or you might not:
From 1936 to 1976 the liberal side of the Republican party frequently won the national nomination with candidates such as Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Thomas E. Dewey, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford. Indeed, other terms for Liberal Republicans include Nixonian and Rockefeller Republican. The mainstream of the party was generally supportive of the New Deal, and the conservatives were the RINOs.
Soon, Reagan came along and how many initially took him seriously?
After 1980 there were few if any open liberals in prominent positions in the GOP, except for numerous "moderates", such as George H. W. Bush, who had run for president on the stance that Reagan's Conservative platform was "voodoo economics".
And then, when I think of RINO today, I think of folks along the lines of pro-choicers Giuliani, Bloomberg, etc... but then McCain doesn't quite fit that mold, at least not in the same way. And who else has held the RINO label? Romney, Huckabee, and Ron Paul.

This election, who isn't a RINO? Perhaps we should redefine what the "Republican Base" truly entails. Yelling and screaming from folks like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh isn't helping very much.


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