« Satellite shoot-down is a clear warning to Iran |
Blog Home Page
| Even the left questions the accuracy and reasons for the Times story »
February 22, 2008
'Obamamania" at a tipping point?
It would appear that the overwrought enthusiasm for Barack Obama may have reached its zenith according to some observers.
Margret Carlson of Bloomberg thinks the press is finally getting wise to the candidate:
On primary day, David Brooks of the New York Times, a conservative columnist who doesn't hate liberals, diagnosed Obama Comedown Syndrome, which manifests itself with unexplained pangs of sympathy for Clinton as ``another fading First Wife thrown away for the first available Trophy Messiah.'' Terry Moran of Nightline (full disclosure: he's my brother) is also asking questions:
Paul Krugman, also of the Times, fearing he'd been too subtle in his criticism of Obama, went ballistic over the Illinois senator's rhetoric. ``I won't try for fake evenhandedness here,'' he wrote. The Obama campaign is ``dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality.''
Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC TV's ``Hardball'' who felt a ``thrill going up his leg'' during an Obama victory speech on Feb. 12, snapped out of it this week. When Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, an Obama supporter, looked as if he might describe his own thrill over the candidate, Matthews cut him off. ``Name some of his legislative accomplishments,'' he demanded of a shell-shocked Watson, who was making his national TV debut. ``Name any. What has he done, sir?'' Poor Watson.
It's fair to ask that question, but of him? Let's hope his family wasn't watching as he had the bad luck to be on the hot seat as the pendulum swung back, when hope and dreams dare not speak their names. It's brass tacks, or the hook.
Nightline'' anchor Terry Moran picked up the mantle with a piece called ``Obamania,'' a phenomenon as ``baffling'' to adults as ``Beatlemania,'' he said. He described ``impassioned fans'' screaming and tearing their clothes. ``Is this a political movement or a personality cult?'' he said. He asked if ``there's going to be some kind of reckoning or hangover.'' Then there are the Obama supporters themselves who are beginning to fear they have stumbled on to a cult or religious movement. Margery Eagan of the Boston Herald supports Obama but is aghast at some of her fellow supporters:
I’m nervous because too many Obama-philes sound like Moonies, or Hare Krishnas, or the Hale-Bopp-Is-Coming-To-Get-Me nuts. Is this momentum building in the press to begin whittling Obama back down to size? I believe it is. Americans are quite resistant to a "cult of personality" being suspicious of someone who seeks personal power above that granted by law.
These true believers “Obama-ize” everything. They speak Obama-ese. Knit for Obama. Run for Obama. Gamble - Hold ’Em Barack! - for Obama. They make Obama cakes, underwear, jewelry. They send Valentine cards reading, “I want to Barack your world!”
At campaign rallies people scream, cry, even faint as Obama calmly calls for the EMTs. When supporters pant en masse, “I love you!” (like The Beatles, circa 1964), Barack says, “I love you back” with that deliciously charming, almost cocky smile.
Oh - I’m nervous because it’s all gone to his head and he hasn’t even won yet. I’m nervous because it’s gone to a lot of other people’s heads as well. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings introduced Obama last week in Baltimore and said, “This is not a campaign for president of the United States, this is a movement to change the world.”
“He walks into a room and you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere,” says George Clooney. “I’ll do whatever he says to do,” says actress Halle Berry.
“I’ll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear.” I’m nervous because nobody’s quite sure what Obama stands for, even his supporters. (“I can’t wait to see,” said actress/activist Susan Sarandon, declaring full support nonetheless).
The list of politicians who sought to demagogue their way to power is a long and unsuccessful one. For that reason, "Obamamania" was bound to come back to earth at some point. And I think it will be sooner rather than later.