Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Cult of personality

Whatever Mike Huckabee’s views of his calling are, it seems to me that there’s a good bit of quasi- or pseudo-religious sentiment in a different venue on the campaign trail. Consider, for example, this post, by our friend RC2 (who, it’s safe to say, isn’t likely to vote for Obama in tomorrow’s Potomac primary) and this post, by MOJ’s Rob Vischer, who seems largely immune to the enthusiasm (and I would call attention to the literal meaning of the word) for Obama, despite his unfulfilled intention to vote for him in last week’s Minnesota caucuses.

Although I was taken to task by some commenters for viewing the Obamenon through lenses offered by Jonah Goldberg, I can’t help but call attention to this passage from an email one of Rob’s readers sent to him about Obama:

isn’t it true that at the very heart of progressivism lays the desire to subject all (or most) or human life to politics? That seems to lie at the base of Historicism which is the philosophical expression of progressivism: as the State becomes more and more "rational," experts are more and more able to govern the minutiae of human life in the name of the common good. There is less room for "little platoons" of civil society as their functions are swallowed up in the all-encompassing State. This in turn leads to greater "democracy" because the whole people are able to govern the whole of everyone else’s lives through the State.

This is not to say that all modern-day progressives wish this to occur, but at the very least it needs to be addressed and explained by those who seek to take up the mantle of progressivism today.

I think that there are some countervailing tendencies in Obama’s own understanding of things. But he doesn’t seem to be doing much to discourage the messianism of his supporters (I almost typed "followers"). Locked in a dogfight with the Clintons, that would probably be bad politics. Perhaps I should just take solace in the facts that Obama acknowledges that he’s a sinner in need of a savior (which gives some "hope" for his humility) and that he uses the first person plural a lot (at least that’s better than "I...I...I").

Still, I worry....

Discussions - 5 Comments

the Obamenon.That's very fine!

JK: "Perhaps I should just take solace in the facts that Obama acknowledges that he’s a sinner in need of a savior (which gives some "hope" for his humility) and that he uses the first person plural a lot (at least that’s better than "I...I...I").

Still, I worry..."

Do you worry more that he may become President? Or worry more about what he may accomplish being President?

Here's why I ask -- there's only so much a President can do on his own. Some of the "hope" being generated by his campaign rhetoric just can't be supported by any realistic assessment of what he would be able to actually accomplish in office. For instance, there will be no magical unification of opinion; there will be no sudden eradication of partisanship; there will be no elimination of stress and tension about events in our future.

What, I wonder, will all those beholden to the messianic image do when the picture of Obama-salvation smacks up against the wall of reality? Seriously -- I wonder if there might not be a rather significant case of collective disillusionment.

there will be no sudden eradication of partisanship

Nancy thinks she can ride a 75 seat gain in house on his coat tails. That would go a long way in ending partisanship.

Don in AZ,

I agree that there are constitutional, institutional, and political constraints on what a President Obama can accomplish, even with an augmented majority in both chambers. Should he win election, it will be interesting to see how his supporters react to their (inevitable?) disappointment. Will they be disillusioned about him, or will he try to deflect, and succeed in deflecting, the blame to the opposition that doesn't embrace his beloved unity?

But there is one arena where he can, in the short run--at great cost to the country and to those who trusted us overseas--gratify his supporters. Just consider how he'll manage our engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I understand that Obama-as-President would not be without lasting damage. I don't relish the notion at all, though I am resigning myself to the prospect of it.

My point was related to the inevitable letdown that will follow his election. Nobody can live up to the pre-election expectations, and certainly not one who has built his campaign on, as you say, a "cult of personality." The grind of the office will quickly show he's something less than the promised messiah.

I'm also not certain that the Pelosi-Reid axis will work in perfect harmony with Obama. One thing I wonder is how Obama will react when the realities of the office come crashing around him. Will his inexperience create some personal paralysis, leading others Democrats (Pelosi/Reid/Schumer) to try to wrest power from him?

I do agree that the role of Commander in Chief is one where he could act with immediate imprudence.

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