April 30, 2009
The Celebrity PresidentBy J.C. Arenas
Americans have a long-standing infatuation with celebrities. We respect their talents, envy their looks, and imitate their style. We are captivated by their money and fame, and immerse ourselves in their world in order to escape our own mundane existence.
The vast separation between their reality and our fantasy has led to a perception of these select individuals as godlike figures. The emergence of Barack Obama marries American popular culture and American politics. Unfortunately, as a result, mounting evidence suggests that up to this point the general public has disconnected Obama the celebrity from Obama the politician.
For example, a recent Associated Press poll (conducted April 16th-20th) indicated that for the first time in years Americans believe that the country is headed in the right direction (48% to 44%).
Also, the latest CNN/Opinion Research Poll (conducted April 23rd-26th) finds that Obama has a 63% job approval rating, and 75% of Americans believe he has the personal qualities that the leader of the free world should have.
The established media have played a leading role in providing a foundation for the president's celebrity. In the first 50 days since his inauguration, the network evening newscasts have featured almost 28 hours of coverage to his presidency -- five more hours than the first 50 days of the presidencies of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton combined.
Obama has graced the magazine covers of Vogue, People, Time, Rolling Stone, just to name a few, and he was the first commander-in-chief to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
The media's promotion of this president has transcended demographics and manipulated public perception; he appears to be extremely popular, ergo, he is extremely popular.
For instance, the results of the aforementioned AP poll can't be classified as astounding especially when taken into consideration that only 18% of the poll participants identified themselves as Republicans, who by and large continue to gainsay the president's radical liberalism.
Furthermore, this poll was conducted a day after the National Tax Day Tea Party when nearly a million ordinary Americans -- across party lines -- participated in a grassroots movement to protest against a myriad of government initiatives.
Ultimately, the AP had to skew the data in order to achieve a desired result and spin favorable news in the direction of the president.
The never-ending reverence towards Obama lends credence to the perception of the president's popularity. This manufactured perception from the media assists to conjure the feelings of an average citizen like Dora Ramirez, which provide some clarity to the findings of the also aforementioned CNN Poll.
Mrs. Ramirez's words are kind, but her reflection reveals who she believes Obama is, not what she believes he is doing, and that is the crux of the problem.
Voters will continue to assess the president incorrectly if they allow the Obama they read about on the pages of periodical puff pieces, see in media-biased polls, and view on left-wing television networks to overshadow the existence of the Obama that is leading the country in, for most, an unexpected and unprecedented direction.
100 days in and already the president has wasted billions of dollars that are yet to have a positive effect on our economy, weakened our national security and dispirited our intelligence community, planned a massive tax increase for all Americans in order to subsidize an overextended, larger government, and chartered a weaker path on foreign policy that has emboldened our enemies to advance their national interests at our expense.
Those facts surrounding his presidency thus far have grown from the seeds of reality, so faulty conclusions that the country is headed in the right direction or that Obama was the right person to lead the nation at this time in our history are hardly in order.
Some voters are reluctant to publicly concede buyer's remorse, and understandably, some believe it is too early to judge the president. Perhaps it is, given that much of the key legislation in his domestic social agenda has yet to become law, but we now know that "hope" and "change" means the birth of a new and entirely different America, and the death of a nation that has given us so much.
The time has come that the adoration of his celebrity must end, and the skepticism towards his politics must begin. We have bestowed upon Obama the power to change the lives of each and every one of us, and if we don't see it now, we won't realize it until it's front page news.