July 26, 2008

We Can Change What We Believe In

Justin Katz

Catholic blogger Mark Shea has been keeping an eye on the messiahfication of Barack Obama, and I have to admit that there's something foreboding about the fanaticism. The feel is not unlike that sparked by a piece, years back, reporting that Pat Buchanan's young staffers referred to him reverently as The Candidate.

Enthusiasm for a particular candidate can be a great thing, if he or she merits the dedication, but we humans have a tendency to forget that our leaders rank among us.


For the record, this photo of Obama is probably Photoshopped to include the cigarette, but my point wasn't an anti-smoking one, merely a non-celestial being one. Referring to the photos on Mark Shea's post, I'd suggest a high likelihood that pictures of Obama glowing or floating among clouds are manipulated, as well.

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Interesting nonesense from supporters of the party that caters to evangelicals and right wing so called christians.

Interesting nonesense from people who distort and then accuse the candidate of the distortions they create.

Ever watch Pat Robertson and his minions, Rev. Hagee and his loopy followers, drooling over Mc Cain (the slayer of McAbel)?

It's pathetic, you have nothing to contribute so you smear Obama's popularity with your feeble and distorted religious views.

You act like spoiled brats. It won't work. You're going to be taken to the woodshed in November whether you like it or not. Shake and dance and lie and squirm. It ain't gonna work.

You have nothing to peddle but filthy distortions and the country is not buying it.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at July 26, 2008 11:23 PM

Alrighty, Exhibit A.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 26, 2008 11:26 PM

I have noticed two things:
1. You cannot speak plainly regarding Barack Obama, and
2. You offer no reasons to vote for John McCain (the slayer of McAbel). You simply throw mud.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at July 26, 2008 11:45 PM

Justin -

My respect for you just dropped several levels. Honestly, this post is below you and your "think tank."

Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at July 26, 2008 11:51 PM

OTL-I will tell you one non-political thing that I don't like about Obama at all-his patronizing way of speaking to the public as if they were in desparate need of his wisdom-Jesse Jackson called it "talking down"-sort of accurate,except Obama does it with everyone,not just Black people.
McCain is more avuncular-like it or don't;take it or leave it-that kind of attitude.Some people don't like that.I do.
Like going to a doctor-I don't want a back rub-just tell me what's wrong.
I think a lot of the Democrat leadership see Obama as someone they can pressure as opposed to the Clinton machine.That is why he is the presumptive candidate nominee.

Posted by: joe bernstein at July 26, 2008 11:55 PM

I'm not sure what your problem with Justin's post is exactly. It sounded like he was actually holding back from what he might have really wanted to say.

Even I can see Obama's appeal on a raw emotional level. However, I'm also clear-minded enough to see the potential danger which can result from a cult of personality. Obama comes off as polished, optimistic, and enthusiastic. He also comes off as arrogant, elitist, and naive. More than a few leaders in history have shared those traits, but more often than not, it ends up that those who put their trust in "the leader," instead of their own abilities, ended up paying severely for it. You may not see it that way, but most people don't until it's too late.

PS Many conservatives are not sold on McCain, although I would venture that given choice between a boring and dull McCain with decades of experience and military credentials; and someone with virtually no real world experience, who can say nothing better than anyone, that most would choose the former.

Posted by: Will at July 27, 2008 12:10 AM


Rhetoric aside, I'm astonished at your reaction, which I can only see as an indication that concerns about zealotry are entirely on the mark. All I did was note that Obama is human, but many of his followers treat him as some sort of higher creature.

I suppose you'll have to prepare a stake on which to burn me when the Obamanation rules the world.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 27, 2008 8:16 AM

I think there are some of Sen. Obama's supporters (worshipers?) who are so madly in love with him that they are completely blind to the notion that he might be just a teeny bit unqualified for the Oval Office . . . but they are not the real problem.

The real flaw in a candidate whose appeal is largely based on "feelings . . . nothing more than . . . feelings," is that he may win office without ever gaining public support for his policies.

Several months ago Newt Gingrich accurately dubbed Sen. Obama the "Rorschach Candidate," because his supporters see in him whatever they want to see.

So many folks who vote for Sen. Obama will do so because they are taken in by his amorphous message of "hope" and "change," not because they endorse some particular position that he holds.

But that's a recipe for governing disaster; as Gingrich pointed out, the last "Rorschach" to win the White House was Jimmy Carter.

In Sen. Obama's case, perhaps the most smitten of all are the mainstream media folks (tingles up and down the leg, don't ya know), who seem to have cast off all notions of objectivity in their zealous quest to help him reach his destiny.

Posted by: brassband at July 27, 2008 8:31 AM

The "Rorschach" quality of Obama is something I've brought up myself(I don't listen to Gingrich)on this forum,only I didn't exactly call it that.It is accurate,though.I think I used the Al Capp "Schmoo"cartoon character from my childhood days-it would be whatever you wanted it to.
This isn't a random occurence.Obama has managed to project this quality with great skill.
McCain is unimaginative and doesn't get people excited.I think a steady,boring style of government with well thought out political moves at home and abroad might be preferable to change at all costs.Change to what exactly?
This administration has pissed on their shoes and I don't see a parallel between McCain and Bush in any way.
I think Matt is all excited about how he's going to follow Obama to a better world,while Nancy Pelosi is excited about having a friendly neophyte in the Oval Office.

Posted by: joe bernstein at July 27, 2008 9:20 AM

Joe Bernstein,
Help me out. Where in hell is the Iraq-Pakistan border? I need some straight talk here.

If the Democratic leadership sees Obama as someone they can pressure, they surely failed to get him to go away quietly and bow before the "inevitability" of Clinton's candidacy. How can you say that he will cave in to the Clinton machine when he rolled right by it. Obama is going to move the Democrats to the Left, not really far enough left for me, but I'll take the gradualism as a start and a move in the proper direction.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at July 27, 2008 9:57 AM

Joe Bernstein,
Help me out. Where in hell is the Iraq-Pakistan border? I need some straight talk here.

If the Democratic leadership sees Obama as someone they can pressure, they surely failed to get him to go away quietly and bow before the "inevitability" of Clinton's candidacy. How can you say that he will cave in to the Clinton machine when he rolled right by it. Obama is going to move the Democrats to the Left, not really far enough left for me, but I'll take the gradualism as a start and a move in the proper direction.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at July 27, 2008 9:58 AM

Do you read the comments made by others before you respond???
Your response to Joe makes no sense.

Posted by: bobc at July 27, 2008 10:43 AM

It amuses me to no end when someone like Justin tosses around the fanaticism ephitet. This from someone whose religion requires that he accept the infallability of a fellow human being.

McCain supporters know that they could never generate the enthusiasm for their candidate that Obama has already. Since they can't replicate it, they dismiss it. It's the most obvious example of political envy I have ever seen.

Posted by: Pragmatist at July 27, 2008 11:26 AM

What is Matt, from that stink-tank RIFutureless, and OTL whining about?

This is classic "the emperor has no clothes", the "kettle calling the pot black".

This was a fairly benign post, in part high-lighting the very real fact that even the candidate who stakes his claim on the Presidency as someone that can deliver much needed "change" to a difficult and challenging world can not himself make a simple change in his own life by quiting smoking, a bad habit that has no redeeming qualities, especially for someone that is a father and someone, who if they become president, the taxpayers will have to pay for the inevitable extra health-care costs due to this bad habit.

Me thinks Matt & OTL protest too much.

Doubtless, Mr. Obama is charasmatic and one hell of an orator. But that alone is not enough. Check this history books ...history is littered with bad leaders that had great oratory and marketing skills. Lucky for him, his competion is no competion at all.

Posted by: George Elbow at July 27, 2008 11:28 AM

Interesting, Pragmatist, that you believe (based on an erroneous understanding of the doctrine of infallibility) that all Roman Catholics are ipso facto fanatics. No doubt, circumstances permitting, you'd find it an easy matter to justify silencing and disenfranchising us. Best get working on your own stake.

One other area in which you're apparently in need of correction: I'm not, by any reasonable definition, a "McCain supporter," and I'd be just as disturbed were his followers fanatical.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 27, 2008 11:33 AM

I wouldn't even go that far, George. I just thought the picture had a Regular Joe quality.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 27, 2008 11:44 AM

Let's not kid each other - politics is more timing than anything. On that note, Obama is sitting pretty. However, as has been said before, nobody ever went broke betting on the stupidity of the American people. And, sadly, it holds true here. Simply yelling for change is a mighty message in today's environment. And Obama does it well - I admire his oratorical skills, wish I had 1/10th of them myself.
But let's not kid each other, scratch the surface and there is nothing there. I think the leftists here understand that as well as anybody, which explains their vociferous opposition to any and all criticism of their annointed hero.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at July 27, 2008 12:04 PM

OTL-I think the Indo-Pakistan border is somewhere around those extra seven states we didn't know about.:)Everyone misspeaks.Even Al Gore,Nobel Prize recipient,mixed up Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson(and no-they do NOT look alike).
More seriously,I was confused by your answer.I never stated that Obama would be caving in to the Clinton machine.They won't be in a position of power anymore.I never thought the Democratic leadership was particularly pleased with the idea of Clinton Redux,but had resigned themselves to the inevitability of Hillary as the nominee until Obama came along on a massive wave of charisma.Did you notice how many Democratic heavyweights gave their support to Obama rather earlier than one would expect?The Clinton machine is dangerous-even more at times to so-called allies than to Republicans.
I stand by my assertion that the Democratic leadership expects Obama to be more malleable than would have been the case with Hillary.
What Obama accomplished was the political equivalent of Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson.
But now what?

Posted by: joe bernstein at July 27, 2008 12:07 PM


The hysterical and fanatical response from the Sisterhood makes the very point you were opining on. Must really hurt to know you've lost their respect. lol
Btw love the pic of the Virgin Mary with the cigarette. Classic!

Posted by: Tim at July 27, 2008 12:14 PM

I've seen the Obama smoking picture you posted before, but have always thought it was doctored or photoshopped. First, he's nowhere near that dark complexioned. Second, look at the brown filter part of the cigarette. Did you ever see a filter that long?

Posted by: observer at July 27, 2008 1:05 PM

You said,"I think a lot of the Democrat leadership see Obama as someone they can pressure as opposed to the Clinton machine."

What I read in your comment is that you are saying that Obama is more easily malleable than the Clinton machine. However, based upon the fact that he rolled over it, I believe that he has put that argument to the lie. Perhaps that was too subtle for bobc who would do well to go back to playing with alphabet blocks.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at July 27, 2008 1:25 PM

The liberal left and the media love Obama, but just wait until election day. Wait until the red state "fly over" votes are counted. Our counry is more conservative than you might think.

If many blacks will vote FOR Obama principally because he is black, is it OK for many whites to vote AGAINST him for the same reason? I am not necessarily advocating that, but merely identifying a trend that looks likely.

Personally, I will vote against Obama for his leftist agenda. When every left wing labor union endorses a candidate, it says something, and not something good. Universal health care insurance is also a terrible idea. Socialism has never produced productive societies-- but freedom has.

Posted by: Citizen Critic at July 27, 2008 1:36 PM

OTL-bobc made a good point.You have to read things carefully.What I am saying is that Obama was able to take on the Clinton initially because of his emotional ipact on voters,partly because Hillary had high negatives,and as time went on,because of the Democrat power structure.This group knows that if he wins in November,unlike the Clintons he will not have a teaam lined up to do his bidding and enforce his will.This is the "malleable" part-the big Dems will come to him with suggestions and names and he will pretty much have to pay attention.The Clintons would've moved their little mafia right back into place.If you can't see the logic of what I am saying I'd be surprised.I'm not saying he didn't have independent strengths thst helped him beat Hillary,it's just that when he has to start attending to the details,he'll need a lot of input.
I once was in a baseball game as a kid where we were leading 16-1 and we lost 17-16.McCain may be harder to beat than anyone imagines.

Posted by: joe bernstein at July 27, 2008 3:56 PM


I never labeled you a McCain supporter, but did address those who are. But that is besides the point.

I'm pretty sure that you need not worry about McCainites becoming fanatical anytime soon. Sleepy, yes. As for Obama, it is generally considered a good thing for democracy when a candidate creates enthusiasm and excitement. Forgive him for his charisma.

Posted by: Pragamatist at July 27, 2008 5:08 PM

I was referring to the picture, Justin.

Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at July 27, 2008 6:30 PM

Call me silly, but your explanation of your response, that didn't make sense, didn't make sense!

Posted by: bobc at July 27, 2008 7:46 PM

Matty - ...."Referring to the picture"????

What's your point?

Is it not Obama?

Is it not a fact that Obama smokes, despite all the problems associated with smoking?

And as Justin noted, do you think that just maybe Obama himself (and / or his campaign) has Photoshopped or doctored a picture or two of the candidate for campaign literature / propoganda.

Give it up, Matty. You're grasping at ghosts, trying to make an issue out of a non-issue, which I acknowledge is a core competancy of the RIFutureless crowd, particularly when they are on the losing end of an argument / debate, which is the majority of the time.

Posted by: George Elbow at July 27, 2008 8:20 PM

"I was referring to the picture, Justin."

Not that there was any room for misinterpretation of your remarks of course (cough, cough).

So, let me get this right, you had absolutely no problem with the substance of Justin's well-written (as usual) post, but because Justin included a picture of uncertain authenticity showing Obama as an "everyday Joe," and not as The Obamessiah that you'd prefer to believe he is, that you only had a problem the pictorial symbolism employed? So, if Justin can find a more authentic picture of Obama smoking (which we know is the worst thing someone nowadays can be, except when the tax money from them comes in), then everything will be okay?

PS Regardless of the authenticity of this specific picture, it is a well-established fact that Obama is a smoker. He has stated that it is a bad habit that he's been trying to kick.

Posted by: Will at July 27, 2008 10:28 PM

I have to question the word fanatisim, as the "messiahfication" of Obama is coming not from the public, but rather from the media.

The three "major" broadcast networks sending their anchors to cover what was basically a series of campaign events with no real policy implications was just one more demonstration of the bias.

The rejection of John McCain's OP-ED submission to the New York Times after the same publication printed Obama's piece was yet another example.

I saw an interview with one editor in which he claimed that since Obama was the first legitimate black candidate and was turning out large crowds, he is a "story" whereas McCain is not a "story". I give the editor credit for unveiling his bias, even if he attempted to justfiy it by using professionalism as a cover (after all, doesn't a journalist's professionalism require that he or she cover the "story" and ignore the "non-story?).

The reality is that most indendents haven't decided whether they're voting for Obama and McCain--despite the media pressure.

Most people don't know much about Barack Obama. His voting record in Illinois was vague as he dodged votes on controversial issues. His voting record as a 1st term senator casts him as a left-wing, liberal Democrat, but his recent rhetoric would have you believe otherwise.

I still find it amazing that McCain and Obama are within single digits of one another despite the media's heavy coverage of Obama. Also telling is that Obama never seems to break 50% even in the days after appearing on the front covers of national magazines.

Given that Obama routinely polled better than he performed in the Democratic primary, the numbers seem favorable for John McCain--media bias or not.

Posted by: Anthony at July 27, 2008 10:34 PM

John McCain was right on Iraq from the get-go.

When the Bush Administration was making errors, McCain called Bush on it.

At a time when people laughed at the concept of a troop surge and Barack Obama was calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq that would have handed the country over to al-Qaeda, McCain stood strong.

That's enough of a reason to vote for McCain in my book.

Obama has no experience and he knows it.

Hillary Clinton knew it when she told reproters: "I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."

Joe Lieberman served with both men in the Senate and he knows it, which is why he is campaigning for McCain.

Heck, even John Kerry wanted McCain to be his VP candidate.

Why someone would want to support, much less deify, a completely inexperienced person for President when his only "track record" would have been to give Iraq to al-Qaeda is beyond me.

Posted by: Anthony at July 27, 2008 10:49 PM

I'm in agreement with Anthony here. Given the unprecedentedly favorable, if not fawning free press coverage which Obama has received recently, he should really be much further ahead by now. That he isn't, means that there is a more fundamental problem that Obama has to overcome between now and November.

Like him or his policies (or not), McCain is a very well-known quantity. On the other hand, Obama is a clean slate, which means it is much more possible for the opposition to define Obama, than vice-versa.

Trust me, listening to a McCain speak outside of a town hall format (which he does quite well), is about as palatable as watching paint dry. However, he's known for his character and for keeping his word. I don't know where Obama comes from or what he believes. It comes down to whether you want a steady hand on the wheel, or someone who's never driven in control of everything.

Posted by: Will at July 28, 2008 12:49 AM

I am not going to vote for Obama as Messia. I will vote for the Democrat nominee. I would have voted for Clinton. I will vote for Obama because of core democrat beliefs and because of the very real changes a democrat administration will bring. The rightwing incompetents and thieves will have to pack their bags and abandon their government posts. The war profiteers and other right wing pirates will lose their rigged contracts. Investigations into these practices will be able to begin in ernest. I would say that is real change.

Posted by: David at July 28, 2008 7:14 AM

In the interests of being fair,Obama has been taking heatn for not visiting with wounded soldiers in Landstuhl,Germany.I don't know why,but maybe he was concerned about being accused of using the soldiers as a political prop.I can't believe he doesn't care about them.
Dick Cheney,the draft-dodging(5 f**kin deferments)VP and armchair warmonger has cancelled an appearance before the Disabled American Veterans convention over security concerns!The convention organizers refused Cheney's demand that the vets be locked in the hall for two hours prior to his arrival and stay until after he left.Many of these veterans have prosthetic limbs and/or medical conditions which made this demand excessive for a number of practical reasons.
I am a life member of DAV which is a single purpose group-we exist to protect the rights of disabled veterans and provide assistance to them,both physical and legal.All totally free of charge.
Was Cheney afraid of these men and women who gave up their limbs and health to serve the country he wouldn't?
this is a lot worse than Obama making a decision that probably hinged more on how the press might react than any actual disrespect for the soldiers.
It's too bad a crumb like Cheney will be an albatross around the neck of a brave man like John McCain.

Posted by: joe bernstein at July 28, 2008 10:02 AM

Nobody associates John McCain with Dick Cheney.

John McCain is his own man and after several years of knowing McCain, most Americans view him as such.

This race will come down to a choice between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Obama's hope is to make every voter, whether liberal, moderate or conservative, think that he holds their beliefs. But doing so is a difficult (albeit not impossible task), even with ill-defined positions.

McCain's task it to convey Obama's voting record to the public. If he does this successfully, McCain will be the next president. If he fails to do so, Americans will view Obama as a mainstream moderate and will vote for him thinking that he is able to act in a bipartisan fashion. Rather ironic, given that Obama's record is heavily partisan.

Posted by: Anthony at July 28, 2008 10:08 PM

Anthony-I am voting for McCain-I think Obama is all show and little substance.
Maybe he could have visited with the soldiers with no press-I wonder who advises him on this stuff.Everything he does is so rehearsed and pre-vetted it is hard to watch.
The Dems are pushing the notion that McCain is Bush term 3,so some people are certainly trying to associate him with Bush/Cheney.McCain also has to distance himself from Joe Lieberman another never been to war "general".He can't seem to wait to get us into a war with Iran.Oil will be $20 a gallon after that happens.Iran knows that if they ever launched a single nuke,we could obliterate them with a Poseidon sub carrying Trident missiles.
If they threaten Israel,let Israel do their thing-they've had nukes for years.We cannot tie our future to Israel's,or any other country's needs.
McCain has to make it clear that Obama will react to an international emergency the way Jimmy Carter reacted to the Cuban boatlift-paralysis.And Carter was an active duty Navy officer for six years.Of course since he was on a submarine he was literally cut off from society for many years.

Posted by: joe bernstein at July 28, 2008 10:39 PM
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