Thinking about the Smith College op-ed where a student declares Obama to be her “Personal Jesus,” I’m reminded of something I wrote on the off-duty blog:
This [children singing about Obama] video illustrates a phenomenon that I’ve periodically underestimated in assessing politics this cycle.
A large number of Americans, like the poster on Mulder’s wall, Want To Believe.
They want to believe in a political leader who they can describe in Messianic terms. They want to touch hands that have touched him. They want the face of their leader staring down on them on posters in public places.
They want to indoctrinate their children about his greatness before they can think for themselves, as we saw in the “children singing” video.
They want to sing songs about him, and credit him for “healing people’s souls.” They want to get together in groups of tens of thousands and chant their leader’s name. They want to make that silly “O” salute.
Cam, you and I have talked offline about the Founding Fathers and their vision of what a citizen of the new nation would be: fiercely independent, largely self-reliant, skeptical of government power, fearful of the passions of the public at large, and modest in his national ambitions. A large swath of the public is the exact opposite of this.
“A Republic, if you can keep it.” It’s tough to keep it if enough of the citizenry wants to see the chief executive as a Xersian God-King.
We can argue if Obama’s tax plan is good or bad, or whether unconditional face-to-face summits with Iran’s leaders is a good idea, or whether McCain or Obama have the managerial skills to be an effective president. But it’s impossible to refute someone who believes that Obama is healing people’s souls. You can’t dissuade someone whose criteria for a president is whether or not he can make that “mythical voice boom out over the mountaintops.” It’s fascinating that the press that screamed bloody murder over John Ashcroft holding prayer meetings with some staffers before work is now shrugging its shoulders at the fact that a portion of the national conversation includes, “In the Name of Obama, Amen.”