In response to my post “Endings” (see below), I received the following anonymous comment:
I’ve been reading your blog for more than a year, and have appreciated your view on the PACS-world.Imagine my surprise these last few days – learning that you are a complete nutjob.
Well, imagine my joy at reading that. I guess I shouldn’t be at all surprised, based on the AuntMinnie Off-Topic Forum experience. There are quite a few people involved in health-care, and obviously in radiology and PACS, who rabidly support Mr. Obama. Very interesting, and to me, disheartening. Before posting on this political quagmire, I carefully weighed the consequences of doing so vs. “shutting the F up” as some have asked me to do. Ultimately, I felt it reasonable to share my opinions on my own blog, which is, after all, a reflection of my opinion on whatever I feel like posting.
I won’t tell you that the country is about to go to Hell in a handbasket based on one nasty comment, or on the tense exchanges on AuntMinnie, or even based on the results of Tuesday’s election, whichever way it goes. But I find it sad that at least in this small venue, those not supporting Mr. Obama are called stupid, or rednecks, or right-wing nut-jobs. Those few of us who post against Mr. Obama’s candidacy have not resorted to this childish level of name-calling. I will admit to making some biting statements concerning the outright gushing praise, adoration, and near-worship expressed toward Mr. Obama. Maybe those were just as bad as any other taunt on the other side, but to me, those comments speak toward the behaviour, and not the person. Whatever.
That the followers of Mr. Obama are, ummmm, enthusiastic is (under)stating the obvious. I ran into a lawyer-friend at the store the other day, who was quite upset with her son for not being willing to vote in North Carolina, where he goes to college, although he is a resident here. “There’s nothing we can do about South Carolina, but he could have really helped us in North Carolina,” she sighed. Helped us. This has gone far beyond a campaign.
I have been old enough to have a grasp of what is going on for the last eleven presidential elections. I have never seen the level of devotion to, and even love of a candidate as I have seen for Mr. Obama. Even Ronald Reagan, who was rather widely admired and respected, did not experience the level of near-worship that I’m seeing for Mr. Obama, nor was there the level of derision of the other side. Of course, the media has never, ever, come down as strongly in support of a candidate as they have this year for Mr. Obama. Nor have I ever seen the crucifixion of the sitting president and his party in the media as we have for Bush this cycle. And perhaps the two are related.
Others have called this fanatical devotion to Mr. Obama a ‘personality cult’, which is a term usually reserved for a dictator after he takes power. From the Wiki:
A cult of personality or personality cult arises when a country’s leader uses mass media to create a heroic public image through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are often found in dictatorships.
A cult of personality is similar to general hero worship except that it is created specifically for political leaders. However, the term may be applied by analogy to refer to adulation of religious or non-political leaders.
We’ve all seen the rock-star-like presence, and the screaming adoring crowds. The responses of otherwise-rational people are amusing, to say the least. From a February, 2008 post on Politico.com:
His charms seem tough to resist, even for some of Hollywood’s biggest names. “He walks into a room and you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere,” George Clooney told talk show host Charlie Rose.
“I’ll do whatever he says to do,” actress Halle Berry said to the Philadelphia Daily News. “I’ll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear.”
Welcome to the cult of Barack Obama. Many talented politicians attract devoted throngs — but with Obama, the fervency of his following borders on the messianic, and that phenomenon has only increased in recent weeks as Obama has scored 10 consecutive primary and caucus victories over New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, surged into the lead in the delegate count, and claimed the mantle of front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
Bloggers, being without constraint (so far) have had a field-day with this concept. Have a look at http://obamamessiah.blogspot.com/, showing a collection of images, quotes, and anecdotes that certainly make one wonder. Some excerpts:
This is bigger than Kennedy. . . . This is the New Testament.” “I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often. No, seriously. It’s a dramatic event.”
— Chris Matthews
“[Obama is ] creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom . . . [He is] the man for this time.”
— Toni Morrison
“Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. . . . He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh . . . Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves.”
— Ezra Klein
“Obama has the capacity to summon heroic forces from the spiritual depths of ordinary citizens and to unleash therefrom a symphonic chorus of unique creative acts whose common purpose is to tame the soul and alleviate the great challenges facing mankind.”
— Gerald Campbell
“We’re here to evolve to a higher plane . . . he is an evolved leader . . . [he] has an ear for eloquence and a Tongue dipped in the Unvarnished Truth.”
— Oprah Winfrey
And so on, and so on. Hyperbole? Sure. But there has never been a phenomenon like this in the United States. Ever. How about the campaign worker on the GOTV (Get Out The Vote) squad who tattooed the number of calls she made in one day (204) on her arm? From the Daily Kos:
That’s why it was such a surprise the day I found my desire to win was stronger than my fear, and made 204 phone calls. I gritted my teeth every time I dialed. But I did it. So I got myself a souvenir, to remind me I can push myself further than I thought I could go.
There’s a lot to love about doing GOTV. Maybe you have a cool canvass partner, maybe a walk through a neighborhood of pretty houses on a beautiful day. Maybe you have one of those incredible conversations with someone on their doorstep — maybe an immigrant proudly tells you in halting English that he is now a citizen and is so excited to get to vote for the first time, maybe you actually change someone’s mind, or even just plant an idea you can see they’ll be thinking over for a while. Maybe there’s the thrill of finally getting to log onto Daily Kos and tell your friends you, too, were out there working to elect Democrats.
But even if you can’t find a way it’s fun, if you really believe we need Barack Obama to be president, need 60 in the Senate, need a progressive majority in the House that isn’t constantly undermined by the Republican-Blue Dog alliance, then you need to find a way to push yourself.
I’m sure it didn’t occur to the young lady, but the idea of tattooing a number on your arm has some very, very frightening connotations to some of us.
This election madness will be over on Tuesday, and then we go on, one way or another. I’ll still be the same nut-job I always have been. But I can promise you this much: If Mr. McCain should win, there will be accusations of cheating, voter fraud, and, inevitably, racism, coming from the other side, and there will be investigations and hearings. A winner might not even be proclaimed until all legal challenges are exhausted. Some have predicted rioting from those who might feel “robbed” by such an outcome. Those supporting Mr. McCain will probably express relief and hope for the future, and will try to reach out with some level of graciousness to the other side. Sadly, anger at them will continue, and even smolder for four or eight years, as we have seen with those who have held hatred in their hearts for Bush and the “stupid” electorate since 2000.
If Mr. Obama should win, his supporters will explode in raucous celebration, probably unrivaled in the history of the US, and I would expect to see a significant amount of property damage occur in the process. Think World-Series or Super Bowl championship celebration, but magnified a thousand times. There will be gloating. A lot of it. There will be some timid charges of fraud from the Republicans, having to do with ACORN mostly, and those will be immediately quashed. rightly or not. But there will be far less anger and hatred of the other side by the Republicans than would occur in the opposite scenario. They might remain bewildered as to just what happened to them, and they will still shake their heads at the level of adoration shown to the new president, but that will pretty much be it. They will go back and live their lives (as much as they can afford to and are allowed to, anyway) and plan for 2012.
Personally, I’m thinking we’ll be seeing Bobby Jindal, the young governor of Louisiana, play a significant part in the next election. See? I’m already looking ahead. That’s what keeps me going on a number of levels.
I don’t need to say much more here. I’m going to go wallow in the unpatriotic virtue of selfishness. But I’ll repeat one last time…In my humble, nut-job opinion, Mr. Obama is not what he seems to be, he is not what you want him to be. You may not realize that, or you may and simply not care. But please think before you vote. And then, by all means, vote.