December 19th, 2016

Let’s canonize Obama

Now that President Obama’s second and last term is about to come to an end, I’ve seen an increasing number of adoring essays such as this one, subtitled “Our outgoing leader brought out the best in all of us”:

The Obamas represented not just the best of black people, but the best of ALL people — white, black, brown and everything in between.

The Obamas are a credit to the race all right — the human race.

Yet President Obama, the most honest, decent President of my lifetime, who leaves with a 56% approval rating, is, if you listen to the right wing’s very mainstream media, a man loathed and hated.

How can that be?

Oh, you know how, right? Because there can only be one reason that anyone on earth can fail to see the astounding, most honest and decent president’s incredible wonderfulness, and that is this:

So — what is the cause for the hate?

Maybe, just maybe, the most decent President of modern times, a man without a whiff of scandal, who didn’t plunge the country into an unwinnable and unjustified war, a man who won’t be forming any billionaire’s family foundation, is hated simply because … he’s black, a black president in a white country? Likely.

This constant refrain began with Obama setting up the meme that the reason motivating his opponents was racism (I documented that message of Obama’s back in real time during his 2008 campaign, here and here). It’s apparently still one of the most basic of the stories that the left tells itself (and the rest of us) when evaluating the very flawed administration of President Obama, as was evident in the New Republic panel I wrote about just the other day.

I wouldn’t pay that much attention to it if it weren’t for an experience I had about a week ago, when I attended a gathering of about ten women, quite a few of whom were talking about Obama in reverent terms. I mean “reverent” quite literally. They were saying that he is one of their most admired people on earth, ever, right up there with Mother Teresa and Gandhi. These are not leftist activists; these are liberal women who are not especially political but who follow politics and world events in average fashion, and are quite intelligent. But they were very sincere about this, and waxed quite eloquent on the subject. In addition, they are completely convinced that Trump’s presidency will bring back another era of Jim Crow, lynchings, and the like.

These appear to be mainstream liberal thoughts at this point, as far as I can tell.

And here is another popular message, although a less race-focused and worshipful one: Trump is already a tainted president, and the Democrats were just too nice and too compromising towards Republicans for too long:

Trump, with the heavy asterisks hovering over his Putin, FBI and 3-million vote deficit-tainted election, could finally put an end to our collective reverence for the presidency. That’s an outcome the country’s anti-monarchal founders might heartily endorse, and it’s the first step to fighting back. Come Jan. 20, many Americans will revere the presidency no more.

It’s a spell worth breaking. Reverence for the office has made Americans too compliant, too soft, too comfortable, and too ripe for autocracy.

Too great a love for the presidency has caused Democrats to neglect state and local politics and to overly prize compromise and a futile quest for bipartisanship. It has made liberals too allergic to federalism and too shy about grassroots politics.

Well, as far as I can see, reverence for one particular president (rather than the presidency itself) is higher than ever.

I agree with one part of that quote, though: the Democrats neglected grassroots politics—although actually, they didn’t neglect it, they compartmentalized it. They felt they had total control of populous blue states (California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, and a few more) and that those were the states that counted, so they didn’t need to do much else. Meanwhile, Democrats at the state legislature level were fading away.

Oh, and Democrats are “too allergic to federalism” when it’s invoked by Republicans. Democrats have never had any problem using it when it benefits Democrats.

29 Responses to “Let’s canonize Obama”

  1. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    This is why they lost.

    Two decades ago, when I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh, one of his gambits was to give Democrats solid advice what to do, knowing that they would never take it, especially from him. We need to give liberals real advice what they should do.

  2. Steve57 Says:

    Personally I enjoy it when my enemies exhibit unambiguous signs of insanity as a consequence of their inability to deal with a shattering defeat.

  3. Ray Says:

    Haven’t seen anything like this since JFK. The democrats worshiped JFK. After his death his time in office was so wonderful, it was Camelot.

  4. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    There are still many people in Russia who speak of Stalin with reverence. Useful idiots, one and all. Utterly incapable of objective examination of accepted orthodoxy.

  5. blert Says:

    Confirmation bias run rampant = Group self-adoration.

  6. Eric Says:

    Linda Stasi:
    “the most honest, decent President of my lifetime”

    = George W. Bush.

    Linda Stasi:
    “unwinnable and unjustified war”

    Contrary to “unwinnable”, Operation Iraqi Freedom was won according to the UN Security Council (December 2010), which mandated the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441) for the UNSCR 660 series, and President Obama (May 2011), representing the chief enforcer of Iraq’s compliance with the UNSCR 660 series.

    However, Iraq’s subsequent trouble is due to Obama’s radical deviation of US foreign policy that disengaged the vital US peace operations with Iraq.

    Contrary to “unjustified”, President Bush’s decision for OIF objectively was justified on the law and facts.

    The US case versus Saddam is substantiated; Iraq was evidentially in categorical breach of the Gulf War ceasefire, including the UNSCR 687 WMD and terrorism mandates, in its “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441).

  7. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    The Democrats made the deal with the progressives that the government employees would be treated like kings if they allowed the progressives to control the agenda. Both overreached particularly at the state levels where government pensions are budget busters. To be thrown from power is not just an inconvenience it is a total change. No one would adopt their positions if not for the largess that flowed from the state. Without that funding or the ability to threaten it’s withdrawal no one would buy solar panels, electric cars, transgender bathrooms etc. For the well off lefties, their government playthings are at risk as is their ability to belong to a protected elite.

    Conservatives usually had real lives to fall back on. So did older Democrats before LBJ.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    DirtyJobsGuy:

    The liberals I know—and the “well-off lefties,” too, of which I know plenty—have “real lives to fall back on.”

    They are upset, but not because they will lose everything that makes their lives worth living. In fact, their lives will hardly change in the material sense or in any other sense except the political. And they will still look down on the right and consider themselves the elite, morally, spiritually, and intellectually.

  9. The Other Gary Says:

    [The 10 liberal women] were saying that he is one of their most admired people on earth, ever, right up there with Mother Teresa and Gandhi. These are not leftist activists; … [they] are quite intelligent. But they were very sincere about this, and waxed quite eloquent on the subject. In addition, they are completely convinced that Trump’s presidency will bring back another era of Jim Crow, lynchings, and the like.

    Liberals pride themselves on supporting “the downtrodden” against “the oppressors.” This is a major girder supporting the edifice of their positive self-image. As a black man, Obama symbolizes “the downtrodden” (never mind the fact that he was raised in rather advantaged conditions), so backing him demonstrates one’s moral rectitude in supporting “the downtrodden.” And the more, the better — all the way to the absurd extreme of showing reverence for the man. Which is basically proclaiming to the world what a wonderful person you are. Hooray for me!

    Completing the picture — while also sweetening the deal — there must also be a dastardly “oppressor” against whom one stands bravely in solidarity with “the downtrodden.” Thus, the flawed Mr Trump is transformed into an evil, racist dictator-in-waiting poised to bring back Jim Crow and lynchings: oh my, he really is bad! Once again: let the world see how brave and virtuous I am for daring to oppose such evil! Double hooray for me!

    And no, intelligence is not a reliable preventative for this kind of reality-distorting self-image enhancement — which, once established, can appear quite sincere.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    The Other Gary:

    Yes, that’s part of the motivation.

    But it actually IS sincere for the people I know, not just pretense or self-image enhancement. They really do believe this of Obama, and they really do believe it of Trump.

  11. chuck Says:

    The mediocre JFK was canonized, and elevation is only going away as fast as the boomers.

  12. DNW Says:

    “… could finally put an end to our collective reverence for the presidency.”

    Collective reverence? What world are these people living in? I guess it’s supposed to reference some golden age. Or, some set of circumstances and attitudes toward office holders which liberals view as ideal.

    But no one with open eyes and any historical memory imagines that this has ever been the reciprocated case. And no one with sound principles thinks that the office should somehow reek with the odor of sanctity.

    Well, politics is religion for some people. And as we conservatives and libertarians have been saying so for years, why be surprised at the evidence?

    Goes along with that “we have been too nice” line of BS they have been peddling; when by every measure, whether it is by word, action, or ideology and philosophy of governance, the modern liberal is, in his essence, the antithesis of a boundary respecting personality.

    And their useful idiots? Well … speaking of …

    I had drinks and an early evening dinner with three male cousins yesterday. Two blood kin, and the other an amiable adoptee I’ve mentioned before, and whose condo was the jumping off point.

    An unspoken agreement kept politics off the agenda. We looked out through the big restaurant bar windows across the strait to a Canada lit in the late afternoon sun; drank beer, ate perch and walleye, talked about lake fishing and boats, grouse hunting, the deep woods, and the best calibers for whitetail.

    We got back to the condo about dark and had a few whiskeys to wrap up; and as I was about to get up and go, my amiable adoptee cousin, clearly troubled, blurted out: “I hear there are some bad things being proposed for social security”.

    “What do you mean?”

    “Well, I hear they are thinking of putting it in the stock market”

    No … this was not a conversation from 10 or 12 years ago. It was from yesterday afternoon.

    Long story short, during a lengthy discussion a couple of us explained to him that unless something new had come up, there had been an old proposal to allow people to manage, if they chose, some small percentage of “their account”. And that the ideological objections to this only emphasized the fact that there was not really any personal account comparable to a real savings account for him in Social Security in the first place; that the term “insurance account” was an old term used to sell the program; that the funds in the system were bookkeeping conventions; and that as it stood, he had no contract with the government whatsoever which gave him any colorable claim against the effects of a congressional action aimed at changing or abolishing it in part or whole.

    Poor guy. He blinked like someone hit him upside the head with a brick.

    The good news for the collectivist minded liberal is, that the atrocity of social insurance will probably continue, and the lives of the hale continue to be robbed to underwrite the lives of the dissipated. The bad news for that particular naive liberal, was that he had nothing that he could not be deprived of – with no recourse – at the stroke of a government pen; should, say certain collectivists decide that certain other portions of the collective were no longer entitled.

    Fortunately for him, he’ll have an automotive pension he started at 50 or something, along with his part time jobs so …

    But I asked him. “Didn’t you know any of this?”

    “No”

    “How come?”

    No answer.

    Then I said: “I guess it’s kind of like the conversation we had about Obama Care, when you told me that it just sounded good to you and your friends, and that you were busy with other stuff and trusted what the union guys and your friends told you?”

    He just nodded.

    We parted friends, as always. You don’t kick a guy like that. He’s not quick enough to be malicious … like a grown child in some ways.

    But he’s voted for years; the UAW party line no doubt.

    He thought, insofar as he thought at all about it, that there was some place where “his money” was stored. He didn’t realize that the fury those liberals who issued talking points or alarms, was generated in part, again in part, by the prospect of legally reshaping the S.S. “accounts” from a pure “social” insurance predicate, to something wherein the claimant did in fact have some individual ownership.

    He just doesn’t know what to make of a world which many of his relatives have been living in for years.

    Whether the liberals Neo quoted on the presidency are equally ignorant, or just nonchalant liars, I would not know for certain.

  13. parker Says:

    Viewing a POTUS as a celebrity (JFK, WJC, BHO) is not a sign of emotional maturity. And, it is dangerous. Yes, RR was inspiring, but it was his ideas that I found inspiring.

    BHO has pulled the wool over a lot of eyes. He is such a small man; petty, vindictive, and pompous. Plus, he will not be humble during his lucrative retirement.

  14. DNW Says:

    ” neo-neocon Says:
    December 19th, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    DirtyJobsGuy:

    The liberals I know—and the “well-off lefties,” too, of which I know plenty—have “real lives to fall back on.”

    They are upset, but not because they will lose everything that makes their lives worth living. In fact, their lives will hardly change in the material sense or in any other sense except the political. And they will still look down on the right and consider themselves the elite, morally, spiritually, and intellectually.

    How much do they know about your secret life again?

    Do any of them have blogs?

  15. DNW Says:

    By the way, the 1st question was supposed to be humorous.

    The second because I’d be interested in looking at that kind of “reasoning”.

    Not that I would bother posting even very mild comments.

    Purely technical responses placed up on WaPo or NYT blog items were promptly removed.

    There is no having a dialog with someone who believes that values and morals are an act of creative will, and reality fundamentally subjective.

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    DNW:

    Every single one knows about my politics and my blog.

    And no, they don’t have blogs. And for the most part, they don’t read mine—except that I sometimes send them links to dance posts or other things I think they might enjoy.

  17. Paul in Boston Says:

    Not having a reverential attitude towards whoever is the President would be a good start. Better yet would be to stop treating “government” with religous awe and start seeing it as a service provided by a bunch of people who sit on the toilet just like everyone else.

  18. The Other Gary Says:

    Neo wrote (5:18pm):

    But it actually IS sincere for the people I know, not just pretense or self-image enhancement. They really do believe this of Obama, and they really do believe it of Trump.

    I agree. I shouldn’t have written that it “appears sincere,” this process of distorting reality so as to create a worldview that enhances one’s self-image. In order for this process to work, it must be believed: you won’t feel better about yourself if you don’t really believe the morality play in which you’re the hero. So yes, they actually are sincere in their reverence for The One and their fear&loathing of Trump.

    And yet… The human mind is a complex gizmo in which belief is not an all or nothing thing. It’s possible for someone to believe something 95% and suppress the 5% doubt. I’d bet this kind of double-think is going on with some of your 10 friends. I mean puh-lease. The combination of a) The Revered Saint Barack and b) Donald “Jim Crow” Trump, the man who can’t wait to lynch blacks, is just too absurd.

    If their rational/perceptual faculties are not totally on the blink, my money is on the idea that some or all have at least a germ of doubt about this nonsense that they’re pushing out of their consciousness.

  19. CV Says:

    Paul in Boston,

    An excellent point. Catholic writer Amy Welborn made a similar argument — that the office of the presidency has become way too important (reflecting both political and spiritual dimensions) in her post #notmycitycommisioner:

    https://amywelborn.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/notmycitycommissioner/

  20. mollyNH Says:

    Odd acquaintances Neo, can’t be bothered reading your blog.
    I find that bizzare, as for the awesome Mr Obama totally a con man as you and many others here have characterized him & my assessment of him as well. I think a big clue is that he cannot speak extemporaneously, shows me that his thoughts are so weird that he cannot articulate them & tries to make do with “ahs errs etc”verbal fillers . Trump on the other hand is amusing with his steam of consciousness bantering which I find amusing & a polar opposite to Hillary’s canned droning that she somehow believed could connect her with people, that is laughable.

  21. Vanderleun Says:

    I guess what all these Obamalovers are trying to emphasize is that Obama’s resume is only skin deep.

  22. Matt_SE Says:

    Your friends are delusional, neo. It doesn’t matter if their belief is sincere; so is the belief of people in mental institutions.
    The only way to settle this is to rely on objective proof, and by every measure I can think of, Obama’s tenure has been either lackluster or a disaster.

    The real tip-off was when they said he was “scandal-free.”

  23. neo-neocon Says:

    mollyNH:

    I don’t find it all that odd that they don’t read my blog. I certainly don’t expect everyone I know to read it; that would be the odd thing, if I expected it. Especially when most of them don’t do that much online reading and are not into blogs in general or getting their news online.

    Most of them are quite busy, as well. They tend to listen to NPR in the car; that’s a big source of information for them.

    Also, I think there’s a tendency to not want to read information that favors the right. This is not unlike the fact that most people on the right don’t spend a lot of time at blogs on the left, either. As I said, though, my friends/acquaintances don’t read blogs at all, for the most part, even those on the left. They don’t eat, breathe, and sleep politics, either.

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    The Other Gary:

    No, I don’t think there’s even 5% doubt in their sincerity.

    I am going on several things here, and one is my memory of my own 20th Century political belief system, pre-political-change. I don’t recall having much doubt. However, I didn’t idolize any politicians, and doubt very much that I would have idolized Obama, either.

    But why would a person doubt her own perceptions if nearly all (or maybe all) of her sources of information agreed? And that includes virtually everyone she knows?

    Of course, they know me and I don’t agree. But I don’t think they really want to know too much about what I think, because I believe I make them a bit uncomfortable because it’s hard to pigeonhole me. I think they know I’m not a bigot (although they probably suspect that deep down I MUST be, or how else could I be a conservative?). And I think they believe I’m intelligent and they know I’m well-informed. So I’m a bit disturbing and there’s really no need to ask me too many questions because they don’t want to become more uncomfortable.

    I think the way they deal with it is by saying to themselves that I’m just kind of eccentric.

  25. The Other Gary Says:

    Neo wrote (12/20 @12:42am):

    No, I don’t think there’s even 5% doubt in their sincerity.

    OK. You know them better than I do. But I think someone who’s 95% sure and heavily suppresses the remaining 5% might come across as very certain. Maybe.

    However, I didn’t idolize any politicians, and doubt very much that I would have idolized Obama, either.

    Right. And I’ll bet you never thought even your most despised politician was working to bring back Jim Crow and lynching, either.

    I don’t know if any of your friends is that far out on the extreme, but if they’re spouting such nonsense, there are only 3 explanations I can think of:

    1) They say these things but don’t fully believe them, sweeping the 3% or 5% uncertainty under the rug.

    2) There actually is something wrong with their rational/perceptual faculties; or

    3) They’ve enclosed themselves in an echo chamber where no contrary opinions are allowed, creating a spiral where everyone eggs each other on to say increasingly outrageous things. In which case, there’s a weird Groupthink dynamic going on in which people say things parrot-like without ever actually engaging their critical reasoning to examine the content of what they’re saying. I suspect this would come across as absolute certainty.

    So I’m a bit disturbing and there’s really no need to ask me too many questions because they don’t want to become more uncomfortable.

    It’s funny; I was thinking about your situation and imagined exactly this, that you’re somewhat “disturbing” to your friends.

    Excuse me for beating a dead horse. But could their discomfort be due to the fact that they know you’re intelligent, well-informed and un-bigoted, and therefore cannot be dismissed in the usual ways. Thus, perhaps they fear, deep down, that some of your “eccentric,” blasphemous ideas might actually be correct.

  26. OM Says:

    And then there is Saint Michelle:

    https://twitter.com/Furrystoat/status/811035343096979456

    I’m not missing them yet, and don’t expect to. The country may still survive the Obamas. Too bad hope is gone (from Saint Michelle, so it must be so).

  27. Barry Meislin Says:

    Downright scary.

    Just when one thought that the level of self-deception and insanity couldn’t get any lower….

  28. Frank B Says:

    One of the most disturbing parts is the statement that President Obama didn’t get us into any unwinnable wars. This shows a shocking level of ignorance about events in the last 8 years.

    How could they forget Libya? The rise of ISIS?

    Its remarkable how immune to reality that is.

  29. mollynh Says:

    Well you ve given a spirited defense of your friends, lol, but I could see some good discussions at this get together eminating from a topic you posted on your blog, I guess they just like their bubble.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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