By FOUAD AJAMI, Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2008
There is something odd -- and dare I say novel -- in American politics about the crowds that have been greeting Barack Obama on his campaign trail. Hitherto, crowds have not been a prominent feature of American politics. We associate them with the temper of Third World societies. We think of places like Argentina and Egypt and Iran, of multitudes brought together by their zeal for a Peron or a Nasser or a Khomeini. In these kinds of societies, the crowd comes forth to affirm its faith in a redeemer: a man who would set the world right. (link)
The author of this article analyzes the Obama phenomenon better than any thing I have read.
I am not concerned that Obama is the "anti-Christ" or intents to turn American into a one party dictatorship, yet the unquestioning outpouring of affection and enthusiasm for Obama is disturbing. I have never observed anything like this before in America in my lifetime and don't think we have ever experienced anything like it before in the history of our country. John F. Kennedy was certainly charismatic and drew enthusiastic crowds and FDR and Ronald Reagan were loved by many, but the followers of Obama seem to be almost cult-like in their adoration. The public response to Obama is more like that of the response of fans to a rock star than a political candidate.
While this is the first time we may have observed this kind of unquestioning outpouring of support for a politician in America, it is not unknown in much of the world. The response we are seeing to Obama is more like that that was observed in the German's love of Hitler, or the Cuban's early adoration of Castro, or the Chinese love for Chairman Mao. There is almost a group hypnosis going on, as if people are wrapped up in an irrational frenzy of group-think.
Certainly Obama is an attractive candidate and can make a good speech, however, he has a very thin resume and has never sponsored a major piece of legislation or championed a particular cause. He is undistinguished and has shown no leadership or legislative skills. His blemishes are just ignored by his mass of followers. If any other candidate had had the close relationship with a terrorist such as Ayers, a demigod such as Reverend Wright, or a crook such as Resco, that would tarnish their image; yet, it has not seemed hurt Obama.
If you accept that many liberals are not too concerned with Obama's association with a communist terrorist from another era, you would still think that those who profess a love for the poor and a belief in social justice would be concerned about Obama's relationship with Resco. Resco was the worst of predators who victimized the poor to enrich himself and yet Obama served him faithfully for many years. Obama's followers do not seem to be bothered by this association.
Normally the good-government types would pounce on a candidate who backtracked on a pledge to accept pubic funding for their campaign. Support for public funding of elections and a belief that money is a corrupting influence in campaigns has been a liberal article of faith ever since Watergate, yet Obama can raise unprecedented sums of money from foreign and other undisclosed sources and his liberal good-government followers do not seem to mind.
The author of this piece concludes: "The morning after the election, the disappointment will begin to settle upon the Obama crowd. Defeat -- by now unthinkable to the devotees -- will bring heartbreak. Victory will steadily deliver the sobering verdict that our troubles won't be solved by a leader's magic."
If I did not also share the author's conclusion, I would be more concerned about what I observe.