Barack Obama is Not Jesus

February 5, 2008 – talkingpointsmemo.com – by Kathleen Geier

Though my first choice for president was John Edwards, today I voted for Barack Obama. He’s not perfect, but he’s a good progressive and unlike Hillary Clinton, he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. As a constituent of his while he was a state senator, I remember very clearly that he was an outspoken opponent of the war at a time when most others in public life were running scared. And, unlike Hillary Clinton, he didn’t stand and applaud when Bush said the surge was working.

That said, I’m getting increasingly weirded out by some of Obama’s supporters.

On listservs I’m on, some people who should know better – hard-bitten, not-so-young cynics, even – are gushing about Barack, raving about his “game-changing” politics, about his “power to inspire,” about how they wept while viewing the now-famous Dipdive video, and on and on.

Then there’s this unsettling article from a few weeks back about Obama’s volunteer operation. One volunteer speaks of her encounter with the man himself:

But the clincher came on March 17, when she met the Democratic contender face to face. She describes how he lit up the room with his wide smile, shook her hand and thanked her for volunteering.” He looked at me, and the look in his eyes was worth 1,000 words,” said Mack, now a regional field organizer. Obama hugged her and whispered something in her ear – she was so thrilled she doesn’t remember what it was.

Here’s more:

Mack wanted to drill home one of the campaign’s key strategies: telling potential voters personal stories of political conversion.She urged volunteers to hone their own stories of how they came to Obama – something they could compress into 30 seconds on the phone.

“Work on that, refine that, say it in the mirror,” she said. “Get it down.”

She told the volunteers that potential voters would no doubt confront them with policy questions. Mack’s direction: Don’t go there. Refer them to Obama’s Web site, which includes enough material to sate any wonk.

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.”

But he’s not Jesus! He’s not going to magically enable us to transcend the bitter partisanship that is tearing this country apart. And even if he is elected, in no way will that show that somehow we have “gotten beyond” race.

The Obama campaign’s instruction to their volunteers to steer clear of policy questions. How can we truly bring about real political change if the movement the Obama people are building is devoid of ideological content, content merely to mouth gauzy generalities about “coming together” and “yes we can”? Such a movement becomes a cult or personality rather than engine for social justice and political transformation. And personality cults can be a huge turnoff to those who are not already drinking the Kool-Aid.

Don’t get me wrong — inspiration is fine, necessary even, and the impressive grassroots organizing the Obama campaign is doing holds real promise. Ultimately though, neither Barack Obama nor any other leader is going to save us. What progressives achieve or do not achieve during the next presidency is almost completely dependent on how strong progressives are as a political movement.

Just look at our current president. He’s miserably incompetent and widely despised by at least half the country. And yet, he’s gotten much of his agenda passed through Congress. This has little to do with any special talents or abilities George W. Bush possesses has everything to do with the incredible power and discipline of the conservative movement in this country.

That’s why, although I support Barack, I don’t think Clinton would govern in ways that would be much different from him (except perhaps in foreign policy – and even there, there’s some doubt, since their senate votes about Iraq have tended to be similar). Like Obama, Clinton is a savvy pragmatist. If the center of gravity moves to the left, that’s where she’ll be.

I worry, however, that some Obama supporters have become so emotionally invested in him that they would not support Clinton if she eventually prevails. And that would be tragic. Voters are fed up with Republicans, have moved significantly to the left on many political issues, and are more open to voting Democratic than at any time in years. Democrats are well-positioned to finally to enact a progressive agenda and maybe even achieve long-deferred progressive goals like universal health care and labor law reform.

To do any of this, a Democratic president is essential. And the small differences between Clinton and Obama are infinitesimal indeed when compared to the differences between either of them and any of the Republicans.

There’s a famous story about FDR meeting with a group of reformers trying to persuade him to support one of their goals. After they finished speaking, FDR said to them, “You’ve convinced me. I want to do it. Now make me do it.”

We need to remember that — that the next president will do the right thing only if there are incentives (in the form of massive political pressure) for him or her to do so.

So I say, we should all get a grip, stop all this unseemly mooning over Barack, see him and the political landscape he is a part of in a cooler, clearer, and more realistic light, and get to work.

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6 comments

  1. The heat of the battle continues. Every candidate has used every tool there is to be heard, bedazzled, e.t.c interpreted by the other sides as something…strong points ridiculed and has to be that way. Election time…politicking…strategized. At the end, “We The People In The U.S” vote for a president.

  2. When the Beatles came to town in 1963 there were a lot of people that just didn’t get it, even demonized the Fab Four because they had shaggy hair and looked a little different from your average American.

    Girls wept and fainted; boys hooped and hollered. The rest was history. I knew it then, and I know it now.

    Young people are smarter than we old farts, so it they are for Obama, then they know what the future needs, then I am for Obama.

  3. That analogy is what’s wrong with the whole cult of Obama. The president of the United States is not an entertainer, but an extremely serious job that requires serious solutions for real problems. It makes sense that people would go crazy for the Beatles because they are musicians. They play and move onto the next city. But a president shouldn’t be swooned over. We are electing a person to the most important job in the world.

  4. Obama is not only devoid of substance he is a racist. He belongs to a black separatist church which only ascribes to black values and Africa. They revere Louis Farrakhan. The pastor is anti-white. If he is elected, white people will become second class citizens. Are you for that?

    Also Obama is a world socialist controlled by the CFR and Zbigniew Brezhinski. He will go to war in Darfur, Pakistan, or any other place they tell him to.

    This article below proves that he’s merely a tool for the world government and promoter of a tax to be paid to the UN to fuel its totalitarian control over us and to redistribute the wealth to other countries.

    “A nice-sounding bill called the “Global Poverty Act,” sponsored by Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama, is up for a Senate vote on Thursday and could result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States. The bill, which has the support of many liberal religious groups, makes levels of U.S. foreign aid spending subservient to the dictates of the United Nations.”

    “The bill defines the term “Millennium Development Goals” as the goals set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, General Assembly Resolution 55/2 (2000).”
    “In addition to seeking to eradicate poverty, that declaration commits nations to banning “small arms and light weapons” and ratifying a series of treaties, including the International Criminal Court Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol (global warming treaty), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
    An Obama presidency would be racist and a disaster for the USA.

    In one of Obama’s campaign offices, there is even a flag with a picture of a murderous Marxist dictator on it!

    Read the rest here:
    http://www.gopusa.com/commentary/ckincaid/2008/ck_02131.shtml

    “MANAGUA, Nicaragua: President Daniel Ortega, who led the 1979 revolution in Nicaragua, says Barack Obama’s presidential bid is a “revolutionary” phenomenon in the United States.”

    Yeah, the Marxist Revolution.

    Judge the man by the company he keeps. He’s a dangerous empty suit.
    I am not surprised that his people are instructed NOT to talk policy, This is another Hitler in the making.

  5. Ok now NH…you are nothing but a little worm that just crawled out from under a rock. It is because of people like you that this country is in such a mess. You love the status quo and all you live for in your pathetic life is to come up with absurd and false statements to undercut other peoples well- meaning positions. In one single phrase, you are intellectually challenged and please stop making a fool of yourself. Your motive and penchance to peddle false rumors and malign others credibility is very obvious and transparent.

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