Monday, October 27, 2008

Brian Jonestown Massacre

While I was busy pointing out the inconsistency in labeling Obama both Hitler and Chamberlain, The Editors was writing up the latest in "Obama is like [INSERT HISTORICAL SUPER VILLAIN]" chicanery. In this episode, Obama is compared to, amongst others, Jesus, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot and...Jim Jones?

New meme: Obama is nuclear holocaust Jesus:

Anyone familiar with the history of communism knows enough to be terrified by utopian visions. Equally frightening is the staggering breadth of the Moonbat Messiah’s ego. Not long ago, Obama told Sunday worshipers in Greenville, South Carolina that they don’t have to wait for any Second Coming:

“I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth.”

Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, et al. had ambitions on a similar scale, although I don’t recall them comparing themselves to God. For the messianic aspect, you normally have to leave politics for cults like Heaven’s Gate.

Obama isn’t the first to mix Marxist utopianism with cult deification. Jim Jones did it with his Peoples Temple. Fortunately Jim Jones never had access to the USA’s nuclear codes.

A bit of a misstep here, comparing Obama to Jim Jones, rather than the more evocative Charlie Manson. True, Jones brewed the original Kool-Aid, and did go to darkest Africa swarthiest South America. But Charlie Manson was much scarier, was all about the class and race war, and - and this is critical here - was from the Epochal and Very Scary Late Sixties, rather than the Forgettable and Mostly Embarrassing Late Seventies. [...]

But once you’ve made a narrative choice, you do have to stick with it - you can’t just keep bouncing around, or people become confused. If you are telling the story of a scary vampire, you can’t decide in chapter 2 that he’s also 500 feet tall and radioactive and bent on destroying Tokyo, in chapter 3 that he is actually a giant man-eating shark, and in chapter 4 that he is all this and a super-terrorist trying to plant a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. All of these things are, indeed, scary, but taken together they add up to a muddle.

This is the problem. It’s not just the McCain campaign’s problem - although their inability to pick a narrative and stick to it is a special kind of inexcusable - it’s a problem for the entire wingnut noise machine. Obama is a Marxist Muslim Arab Jesus Black White Terrorist Technocrat Racist Do-Gooder Liberal FDR Stalin Hilter [me: Chamberlain!] Commie Fascist Gay Womanizing Naive Cynical Insider Noob Boring Radical Unaccomplished Elite Slick Gaffe-Prone Pedophile Pedophile-Seducing Liberation Theology Atheist Etc. & Anti-Etc. with a bunch of scary friends from - wait for it! - the Nineteen Hundred And Sixties. It makes no sense. It’s a jumble sale of fears and scary associations from 50 years of wingnut witch hunts and smear campaigns, a flea market of pre-owned and antique resentments, and if one does detect a semi-consistent 1960’s motif running through it all, that’s because that’s when most of these ideas were coined.

One of the more common GOP memes this election season (from the days of "Obama's a celebrity" on) has been how Democrats view Obama as the Messiah. In reality, however, it's the GOP that has the outsized conception of the man. Seriously. McCain supporters act as if Obama's some demi-god capable of ushering in enormous societal changes with the sweep of a hand.

Democrats, at least the pundits and bloggers that make up the majority of the commentariat, are entirely supportive of Obama (after 8 years of Bush, I'd be supportive of just about anyone not promising 4 more years), but also realistic about the fact that he is, in the end, a politician bound to disappoint.

Despite the unhinged railing about Obama being a radical Marxist redistributionist/terrorist enabler, Obama's record (on foreign policy, economics, the environment, etc.) is primarily that of a center-leftist. Recall: the so-called Marxist is featuring massive tax cuts as the centerpiece of his economic policy (aimed at the middle class, not upper class, which makes them socialist I guess); the alleged terrorist coddler has hawkish positions on Afghanistan and Pakistan (more hawkish than McCain - at least according to proclamations); and the supposed reckless tree hugger is willing to support nuclear energy, clean coal technology and ethanol subsidies.

Let's put it this way: he's no Russ Feingold or Bernie Sanders. And even if he was, he would still have to deal with the House and Senate, which means compromise on any progressive agenda.

Obama's appeal has more to do with his calm steady leadership, displays of competence and advocacy of common sense policies at a time in American history when common sense and basic competence are confused for visionary genius due to the ever-present comparison to his would-be predecessor. That's why so many on the right have swallowed hard and endorsed Obama. They're not under the spell of the new-fangled cult leader. They just reached their collective limits with GOP failures. If those that lean steeper to the left are hoping for Obama to be a progressive transformationalist in the mold of FDR, they should prepare for disappointment.

Yes, Obama inspires people and has been drawing huge crowds at rallies and the like. But again, after eight years of one of the worst presidencies in US history, and with the country beset by a host of serious crises, such enthusiasm is not really peculiar. Despite this rather obvious state of affairs, McCain supporters have whipped themselves into a delusional frenzy, writing impassioned pleas to fellow Americans about "The All-Powerful One" whose omnipotent eloquence, charm and mind control powers are going to help him to implement a plan to kill an estimated 25 million Americans who refuse to convert to communism, usher in (or permit) a new holocaust, impose martial law, outlaw free speech, convert the country to a marxist dictatorship and/or make us all drink poisoned kool-aid. Or something.

And the Democrats are the one that think Obama has super-powers?

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