Friday, March 28, 2008

The coming Obama implosion

I probably shouldn't call it "coming" - it's already here, and it's not even April yet. For example, Christopher Hitchens takes another hard look at Obama and doesn't like what he sees. In case anyone's wondering if the Obama candidacy is finished or not, see this and this. There's always a certain amount of BS going on with figures at the fringes of any presidential campaign. But the core of this material is published and publicly available. The problem remains, not so much Obama, as the people around him. If the Clinton people are retreads from a moderately successful administration 10 years ago, Obama's people are failed retreads and would-bes from 20, 30, even 40 years ago.

There's not a lot more to say about the angry Pastor Wright. Long-time Obama-watchers were not surprised by the recent flap. Wright, a well-to-do pastor and child of upper-middle-class privilege, even more than Obama himself, is undoubtedly a cult leader captivating hearts and minds with myth-spinning, half-truths, and "hate speech." But take away the race mongering, and you have a successful cult guru not unlike, say, the Maharishi - and not at all like, say, Jim Jones, who took his beliefs far too seriously. After all, Jones committed suicide. Pastor Wright would never, ever do that to himself. Think instead of all those other angry cultists of the New Left and of how privilege has its price: the Chomskys, the Patty Hearsts, the Weather Underground, etc. - all those children of success acting out some weird personal drama and sometimes inflicting it on the rest of us. Mostly, such people need to heed their own advice and start with themselves.

But back to Obama: while not a full-blown cult follower, he is clearly a cult fellow-traveller of many years. The cult beliefs don't at all fit at all his own biography. But joining the cult was a shrewd political move - it allows him to keep one foot in angry identity politics, even if it's personally irrelevant to him, while still selling himself as "post-racial" to credulous white middle-class boobs. If anyone was paying attention, this whole dynamic was brilliantly captured and dissected last year by Shelby Steele.

Unfortunately, the Obama craze will not go away completely until the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. Clinton will almost certainly win it, by a large margin, leaving the Democrats with two candidates: one with a less-than-even but still serious shot at winning in November, and the other with even more limited appeal and his primary vote lead all coming from his home turf, Cook County, Illinois. The question then becomes, how crazy are those Dems? They specialize in self-destruction, and slavery/segregation/race has been their albatross for more than a century and a half: can they shake it?

POSTSCRIPT: For another slant on what's wrong with the Democrats, see here. Hint: it's more or less the same thing that's been wrong with them for a long time.

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