Barack-a My Soul, Muad-Dib

Today’s offerings at the excellent weblog Gates of Vienna included a post that links to a recent Barack Obama campaign video, which I have embedded below.

I realize I’m only a bilious old crosspatch who, unable to hear the chorus of angels that wells up in exultation whenever the junior Senator from Illinois opens his pie-hole, has nothing better to do than snipe from his rocking chair at the sweet optimism of youth. Nevertheless, I have to say that this video gives me the shivering fantods. A pan-ethnic parade of smug and ensorcelled thralls, in varying transports of ecstasy, swim into view to explain that their god-child will fix the environment, end all war, bring the nation together, stifle corporate greed, speak for all people, make America the darling of the world, and so forth. A few miracles are left unpromised — perhaps a World Series ring for the Cubs, or a chemistry Nobel for Paris Hilton — but with O-Ba-Ma, anything’s possible.

See for yourself.

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  1. bighominid says


    I’m sorry, man, but I LIKE that video! Maybe I’m just sick of cynicism in political advertising (cf. that fearmongering Hillary commercial about who would be better in a crisis).


    Posted March 2, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Things are worse than I feared…

    Posted March 2, 2008 at 11:56 pm | Permalink
  3. the one eyed man says

    It’s a zeitgeist thing. You’re being Ward Cleaver in a Lindsay Lohan world. I think there are analogies to two other men which help to explain the Obama phenomenom.

    The first is Ronald Reagan. Like Obama, Reagan campaigned to an electorate which was demoralized and fed up with an inept President. The “morning in America” bit played perfectly to an electorate which had enough of Jimmy Carter withdrawing from the Olympics or telling them to turn the heat down. As Rudy Giuliani can tell you, the be-very-afraid meme doesn’t work too well any more. Let’s have fun again plays much better. Obama is the anti-Bush: it’s hard to think of two politicians who are more dissimilar (well, maybe Cheney and Obama are even further apart). Obama just fits the times.

    The second is Tiger Woods. Like Tiger, Obama has black blood and mixed parentage, but being black is not at the core of his public persona (at least in the sense that Obama is not Al Sharpton and Tiger is not Muhammed Ali). They are both at the top of their fields. They are both very cool under intense pressure. And they both have enormous followings and generate lots of excitement. If the American electorate could elect George Bush because he was thought to be more fun to have a beer with than John Kerry, who could be surprised that in 2008 people will vote in big numbers for the coolest guy in the class?

    Posted March 3, 2008 at 11:55 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    No, no, Peter – I understand why folks like Obama: he’s a decent guy, and he’s hip, young, and smart. I might even end up voting for him myself, come November.

    What gives me the vapors here is the cult of personality that seems to be swirling around the man – people swooning at rallies, the ascription of magical powers, and, in this video, the chanting of his name with eyes closed in messianic rapture. It’s religious in its fervor, in its joyful surrender to some Utopian eschaton, and it’s creepy.

    Posted March 3, 2008 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
  5. eugenejen says


    As an atheist and growing up listening to all cult of personality propaganda about Chiang Kai-Shek and Chiang Ching-Kuo, (though those are much milder versions compared to those for Mao Zhe-Tong in China and the Kims in North Korea), I somewhat understand why zealots push cult of personality for Obama. Human being needs a personified icon to project what they desire abstractly! It has the same root just like religion. Because our emotional mind just can’t bear anything abstract, impersonated. Unfortunately those emotions definite will collide with reasons.

    So after a Maud-dib, do we need a Leto Atreides to fuse our mind with … iPod?

    Posted March 3, 2008 at 2:32 pm | Permalink
  6. Tom says

    “Human being needs a personified icon to project what they desire abstractly!”

    That’s all fine and well. But this is the United States, which was set up to be different. It’s not supposed to be a place where we put our faith in “leaders,” because frankly, we’re not supposed to want to be “led.” It’s not supposed to be a place where we invest so much emotion in the elected representative we call the president.

    It was supposed to be different here. We were supposed to be trying something different on this particular parcel of land on the globe. The whole United States concept was supposed to be a whole new way of doing stuff. So my problem isn’t so much with Obama himself — whatever; he’s just another grown-up high school debate-clubber trying to get votes — as it is with watching the populace exalt the role of presidency to this iconic, omnipotent status. In that regard, I have precisely the same problem with the video, and Obamania, that our host has articulated.

    Posted March 3, 2008 at 11:30 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Why, thank you, Tom. Quite right.

    Posted March 3, 2008 at 11:35 pm | Permalink
  8. eugenejen says

    Mal and Tom,

    I agree with you too. The system in United States should be set up differently. In fact, when I was fed up by those stupid propaganda when I was a teenager, the best counter example is United States!

    But the question for us now is why Obamania and Fundamentalist are rising in our perception. Is because the internet makes such previous radical idea be popular? Then that may mean our past rationally may be just due to mass media is under control of rational elites. So this means I just dig grave for myself in democratize media production, because Internet may just now become outlets for those dangerous irrational voices. Or is it deep inside our genes and social memes and always ready to come back to fight against rationalism due to its strong emotional spiritual bonding experience? Or just because U.S.A.’s recent immigrants came more from countries that foster higher religion zeal and fail to integrate those immigrant as before?

    I just don’t like one day that I will be tied on the stake to be burnt and people around me chanting happily that “Go to die, godless bitch and may the fire clean your sins”

    Posted March 4, 2008 at 5:08 am | Permalink
  9. eugenejen says

    Sorry for missing one thing.

    “Human being needs a personified icon to project what they desire abstractly!”. It is not fine or well.
    It is just like epiphany. It shows that most human beings has this limit on their mind to grasp abstract idea and
    discuss with emotionless tone. Even religions like Judaism and Islam recognizes it and forbids it as idolatry. Which may be exactly the cause to all problems that we have now because the world is much more complex than savanna 10000 years ago.

    Posted March 4, 2008 at 5:22 am | Permalink