April 6, 2011
Obama Re-Election and the Cult of PersonalityBy Steve McCann
Barack Obama has made it official: he is running for re-election. The 2012 presidential election campaign has officially begun. The election will ultimately be a referendum on Barack Obama regardless of whom the Republicans choose as their nominee. Deep in the bowels of the White House and in strategy sessions in Chicago, the Obama team is formulating its campaign strategy convinced that their guy's charisma and delivery combined with a willingness to say anything will result in re-election.
Team Obama knows it will not be able to honestly campaign on the President's record of accomplishments. There is a risk in basing their campaign solely on blaming everything on President Bush and the mantra that things would have been worse if they had not pursued their policy agendas. After all Barack Obama will have been in office for four years by Election Day 2012.
Even the most optimistic of economists and the Federal Reserve itself predict that the economy will not have completely turned around by November 2012, as the unemployment rate will remain around 8-9%. The annual budget deficit will still be in the $1+ Trillion range and the total national debt will have increased over $5.4 Trillion dollars during Obama's first term (more than the debt from the founding of the country in 1789 through 2001). There is also a consensus that the Middle East will still be in turmoil, the threat of terrorism markedly higher and our foreign policy in shambles.
There is little option but to replay the 2008 campaign.
Therefore the White House will, as its primary tactic between now and November 2012, focus on re-instituting and re-enforcing the "cult of personality" strategy so successful in 2008 (particularly against Hillary Clinton) while contrasting Obama against the dull and bland personality of any of the Republican candidates. Secondarily and in concert with the once-mainstream media and the unions, the well-worn and threadbare accusations of the nominee as being mean-spirited and in league with the "rich" will be on full display. In reserve will be the heavy artillery of racist accusations to be used to create headlines and sidetrack the Republicans whenever the opportunity, real or imagined, presents itself.
The cult of personality can be best summed up as: a country's leader using the mass media, staged public events and government assets to create an idealized and celebratory public image often through unquestioning flattery and praise as well as outwardly sincere empathy with the populace.
This term in connection with Barack Obama was first brought up in 2008 campaign by the Hillary Clinton supporters and notable left-wing commentators such as Paul Krugman in the New York Times in reaction to the tactics of the Obama campaign and the adulation of the media.
In the past "cult of personality" was most often associated with various dictators and brutal communist leaders such as Stalin and Mao Tse-tung. While no one is comparing Barack Obama to those vile and evil leaders, there is one trait that is necessary if a cult of personality is to flourish. That is a determination, without any moral scruples, to say or do anything (true or false) in order to accomplish one's goals. Therefore every action of Obama from this day forward, from the most pronounced to the least noticed, must be viewed through the prism of his re-election.
That trait was recognized by many Hillary Clinton supporters in 2008 as they watched the Obama campaign lie about her positions, pull out the race card whenever possible and utilize underhanded and in some cases illegal tactics to win in various caucus states. In the meantime Obama was going around the country holding combination rock concert and religious revival campaign appearances mouthing infinite platitudes but no substance. The Obama campaign succeeded into making him into a combination of a messiah/celebrity in what has become a celebrity driven culture. Hillary or no one else for that matter could compete in that environment.
Whoever the Republican candidate will be in 2012, he or she would do well to study the 2008 Obama campaign against Hillary Clinton and not the just focus on the failed candidacy of John McCain.
The first step in defeating Obama is to not to acquiesce to "political correctness" and racial intimidation. Mr. Obama has been President now for four years, he is of African descent therefore there is no new ground to break or national guilt to assuage. His is no longer an historical candidacy. Both Hillary and McCain were so intimidated by that factor that they refused to figuratively take the gloves off and challenge his many statements and outright lies.
When, not if, the race card is used, the accusation needs to be firmly refuted and turned back on the Obama campaign as being their deliberate attempt to incite racial animosity, anger and a diversion at a time when the country if facing so many problems created by the Obama administration.
The English language contains some short but blunt words that need to be used more often. When someone deliberately tells an untruth it is not spin or a fabrication, it is a lie. The person that repeatedly does so is not someone who is a master of spin or obfuscation, he or she is a liar. Based on Mr. Obama's myriad of false and misleading statements over the past four years, he is a congenital liar and needs to be called out without trepidation each time he reverts to another lie.
The American people can expect to see President Obama on as many sympathetic television talk shows as possible and he will grant innumerable interviews to sycophantic news anchors and talk radio personalities as he can get into his schedule when not interfering with golf or White House parties. The Obama family will be prominently featured in all the celebrity worshiping magazines and news shows, which will also highlight the various White House functions with whoever is the entertainment or sports superstar of the day.
The Republican candidate cannot compete with this onslaught as well as the attention-getting power inherent in the office of the President. He or she should not try to follow in Obama's footsteps in trying to curry favor with the celebrity or the once-mainstream media. Instead, make a campaign issue of the President; while the country is sinking into a financial and economic abyss and the rest of the world has become a more dangerous place under his watch, he is more concerned about being a pop icon and having a good time. The Republican candidate must make some obligatory appearances with the "old" media but he or she should focus full time on the alternative media.
The Obama campaign knows their best chance to win re-election is to firmly establish Obama as an unbeatable cultural icon who saved America from even worse circumstances had he not been President. The Republican candidate must not be intimidated to speak the truth in plain language and aggressively attack the failures and foibles of Barack Obama realizing that he and his team, including the media and the unions, are without scruples and will do or say anything to win. The Obama "cult of personality" must not succeed. Only a genuine accomplished conservative that is determined and unafraid, not those the Party has traditionally nominated in the past, can achieve that goal.