The Campaign Spot

‘Magic,’ ‘Lightbringer’, ‘Messiah’ — Not New Terms To Obama

If you haven’t read the “Lightworker” column by Mark Morford in the San Francisco Chronicle, you really ought to.

I realize it’s San Francisco, but I didn’t know that American newspapers that traditionally supported the separation of church and state described presidential candidates as “an enlightened being,” as an “ethereal and magical thing that seems to enthrall millions of people from all over the world,” carrying “a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity” and so on…

the rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul…
There’s a vast amount of positive energy swirling about that’s been held back by the armies of BushCo darkness, and this energy has now found a conduit, a lightning rod, is now effortlessly self-organizing around Obama’s candidacy. People and emotions and ideas of high and positive vibration are automatically drawn to him.

Here’s the thing. We can laugh at Morford, and others who have described Obama’s abilities as “magic” or all of the quotes collected at the “Is Obama The Messiah?” blog. The latest classic:

“What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation’s political history. … The event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance.”– Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. on Obama’s winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

Why stop with one chapter? Why not a Third Testament?
But as I read biographies of Obama like David Mendell’s Obama: From Promise To Power I find that people have used messianic or magical terms to describe this man throughout his career.

“While Obama’s campaign operation was stagnating under a lame-duck campaign manager, Bettylu Stalzman was working hard. She was pulling together fund-raisers and lobbying [eventual campaign manager David] Axelrod hard on her belief that he indeed had a budding star on his hands in Obama. “I’m sure she used the word magical,” Axelrod said with a smile. [Emphasis in original, page 183.]
In Chicago, Obama was listed among the dozen or so politicos who had “IT.” Beneath a flattering photo of a smiling, confident-looking Obama, the [Chicago] Sun-Times breathed heavily: “The first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review has a movie-star smile and more than a little mystique. Also, we just like to say his name. We are considering taking it as a mantra.” [page 218]
They serenaded the Hyde Park Democrat with chants of “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” Obama drew such a passionate outpouring from the crowd that even he and his aides were overwhelmed. “At one point, I thought Barack was going to rise up over the people and start saying, ‘My children, my children, I have come to free you,’ joked his driver and bodyguard, Mike Signator. “It was just incredible.” [p. 297]

Exit question, as the guys at Hot Air (and The McLaughlin Group) say — if Obama or his campaign wanted the messiah/savior talk to end, could they stop it? Would they? Are they more or less okay with supporters describing their candidate in quasi-religious terms — recall the volunteers being instructed to tell voters how they “came to” Obama, much the way some Christians describe their “coming to Jesus” moment — and what does that tell us about the candidate, his team, his followers (believers?) and how they see themselves?

Most Popular

White House

Trump vs. the ‘Policy Community’

When it comes to Russia, I am with what Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman calls the American “policy community.” Vindman, of course, is one of the House Democrats’ star impeachment witnesses. His haughtiness in proclaiming the policy community and his membership in it grates, throughout his 340-page ... Read More
Law & the Courts

DACA’s Day in Court

When President Obama unilaterally changed immigration policy after repeatedly and correctly insisting that he lacked the constitutional power to do it, he said that congressional inaction had forced his hand. In the case of his first major unilateral move — “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” which ... Read More
Books

A Preposterous Review

A   Georgetown University professor named Charles King has reviewed my new book The Case for Nationalism for Foreign Affairs, and his review is a train wreck. It is worth dwelling on, not only because the review contains most of the lines of attack against my book, but because it is extraordinarily shoddy and ... Read More
White House

Nikki Haley Has a Point

Nikki Haley isn’t a Deep Stater. She’s not a saboteur. She wouldn’t undermine the duly elected president, no siree! That’s the message that comes along with Haley’s new memoir With All Due Respect. In that book, she gives the politician’s review of her career so far, shares some details about her ... Read More