Elites Should Blame Selves, Not Obama, for Believing His Messianic Pretensions
December 6, 2010
Have you noticed among the Obama-supporting elite a desperate agony upon realizing that he is not quite the messiah he made himself out to be and which they so willingly embraced?
Many leftists are disgusted with Obama for supposedly betraying the cause on a number of issues, which tells us how irredeemably liberal they are. But their sense of betrayal runs deeper than ideology.
It’s not just their belief that he’s abandoned them on numerous policy issues. It’s also their belated discovery that he’s not superman.
So we’re witnessing a number of liberal and conservative elites scapegoating Obama for their own foolishness in deifying him. I say “scapegoating” because no one has a reasonable right to rely on another person’s self-portrayal as messianic. If they bought into his claims to personal transcendence, then they are more culpable than he is, and their anger is transferred hostility, redirected from themselves to the now-exposed mortal.
The elites’ investing of supernatural hope in Obama was a product of their worldview, which diminishes, perhaps even erases, God’s role and looks to man for salvation. Their subsequent deflation was inevitable because no mere human being is transcendent.
My assessment gains further credibility when you consider that some of these former Obama disciples are still torn, not quite willing to let go just yet of their fantastical expectations — their faith. So in their essays, we can detect both resentment and a sense of residual hope that Obama will return to his godlike state. At once they berate him for betraying them in his holding himself out as almost otherworldly and yet plea for him to return to this very same resplendent glory that they now ambivalently reject.
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift reminisces about Obama’s halcyon days — his period as a consummate presidential campaigner — when he would overcome each difficult challenge by rising to the occasion. “He came through the crucible each time because he realized he would otherwise lose.” Clift observes that the left-wing MoveOn.org is running ads “calling on the president to ‘be the president we fought to elect.'” She says, “The rest of us (non-Republicans) are craving the leadership we know he’s capable of, and time is running out.”
The New York Times’ Frank Rich attributes “the baffling Obama presidency” to a form of Stockholm syndrome, whereby “the hostage will start concentrating on his captors’ ‘good side’ and develop psychological characteristics to please them — ‘dependency; lack of initiative; and an inability to act, decide or think.'” “Obama,” Rich argues, “has seemingly surrendered his once-considerable abilities to act, decide or think.” Rich says that Obama is neither the naive centrist the left is making him out to be nor the socialist conservatives claim he is. “The real problem is that he’s so indistinct no one across the entire political spectrum knows who he is.”
Obama should have broken out of his Stockholm chains and stood “firm on what matters to him and to the country rather than forever attempting to turn non-argumentative reasonableness into its own virtuous reward.”
Put aside Rich’s distorted perspective in thinking that Republicans have been the aggressors in their relationship with Obama or that he has been conciliatory rather than the bully he’s actually been. What’s more noteworthy is his disgust with Obama for not being the super-liberal, super-aggressive, super-decisive, super-competent chief executive he and his ilk believed he would be. Rich seems to believe less than some others in Obama’s potential redemption.
Michael Lerner writes that liberals “believe it is critical to get Obama to become the candidate whom most Americans believed they elected in 2008.” He recommends a primary challenge from the left, which “would pressure Obama toward much more progressive positions and make him a more viable 2012 candidate.”
The New York Times’ David Brooks, who has sometimes been mistaken for a conservative, begs Obama to make yet another speech (this time on tax reform) and to reclaim the greatness the Brooks “intellectuals” projected upon him. “If Obama moved vigorously on this sort of tax reform, starting at the State of the Union, he would vindicate my description of him, which would be nice.” I suppose he means the one in which he lusted after the crease in Obama’s pants.
These examples and many others show the pure folly in so many having invested so much in a man about whom we knew so little and what we did know was troubling.
The elites’ uniform disenchantment with Obama says much more about them than it does him, namely that they are hopelessly lost in the intoxication of their intellectual elitism and the mire of their crippling worldview and that they didn’t have a clue about Obama when they formed their little cult and still don’t as they stumble upon, kicking and screaming, his abundant failings.