August 7, 2008

The Pseudo-Intellectuals' Candidate

Justin Katz

Has anybody else gotten the sense that the Obamanation has the interesting effect of highlighting how extensively the zany intellectual clichés from the academic Left are ingrained in the liberal/Democrat movement? Consider Victor Davis Hanson's post aptly titled "Postmodern Architecture":

What was stunning about the NY Times' Bob Herbert's charge that the McCain campaign, in its satire on Obama's messianic sense of self, had deliberately inserted clips of the phallic Leaning Tower of Pisa and Washington Monument to drive home a racist trope about black men and white women was not just his embarrassing ignorance of architecture, or his infantile pop-Freudianism, or even his preemptory efforts to tie all criticism of Obama to racism and thereby stifle dissent. It was the sheer arrogance in the manner in which he persisted in his false points: "An image right there... of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and ... the Washington Monument.... You tell me why those two phallic symbols are placed there...".

Anybody who's sat through a college literature course no doubt recognizes Herbert's over-reliance on Freudian symbolism. (E.g., "His use of the word 'thrust' during the sword-fight scene emphasizes the phallic nature of the sword and raises the question of the white man's primal fear of being sexually compromised by the African American.")

Here's another example:

I think that the writer thought it smart to use the word "biracial" instead of "black" to feed on white male fear of black men taking white women.

I also think that the writer also thought it was brilliant to use the phrase "tiger by the tail" which is very close to the children's rhyme "tiger by the toe" which was originally the not so childish "n***** by the toe".

The blogger goes on, in the comments, to highlight the ostensibly racist letter writer's use of the word "lust," but a more rewarding deep reading can be performed without ripping the word from its succulent context:

Every scientific analysis of news coverage has noted the vastly dissimilar treatment of the two candidates. The media lust to be a part of "making history" by helping elect a biracial candidate. So, in the process, everything from ethics to integrity is chucked over the side. We're gonna make history. But, oh, at what cost?

We can well imagine the orgasmic euphoria with which the headline "Obama Wins!" would be written, and some of us may already harbor the foreboding fear of the governance that may follow it, but when it comes to fantasies, I'd suggest that the dark ones of the White Male are not nearly as significant a factor as the titillated craving for the expiation of guilt by means of submission to the Other from those who see in every tower a phallus and therein an expression of power.

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And sometimes a political campaign is just a political campaign.

I guess my wife wasted all those years getting her Masters in Psych. Apparently all you have to do is be able to open a box of Wheaties and you're qualified to speak in depth about the inner workings of the human mind.

Posted by: Greg at August 7, 2008 7:51 AM

A certain desperation has sunk into the anti-Obama rhetoric that goes well beyond the anti-Kerry and anti-Gore rhetoric. At least Kerry, Gore and Clinton weren't among THOSE people, right?

Posted by: rhody at August 7, 2008 10:57 AM

Rhody-check my remarks on leftist tactics on another thread-you guys are as predictable as an atomic clock

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 7, 2008 11:08 AM


I'll take Obama's "pseudo-intellectuals" over the anti-intellectuals who seem to be making up a larger share of the Republican party every day. Following the Bush administration, any kind of intellectual at all will be a welcome change. And McCain's Paris Hilton ad does nothing to burnish his image as a substantive candidate.

Posted by: Pragmatist at August 7, 2008 4:33 PM

Justin Why do you refer to the Obama presidential campaign as "Obamanation"?

Posted by: Phil at August 8, 2008 9:36 AM

It's easy to explain why flippant Justin refers to the Obama campaign as "Obamanation". It's because the poor man is a McCainiac.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 9, 2008 10:49 PM


Despite all his cleverness , Justin can't or won't answer a simple question.

Posted by: Phil at August 10, 2008 9:07 AM

You'll note that I haven't written much of anything in the timespan since you posed your question. Gotta keep life on track and all.

At any rate, it didn't strike me as all that complicated or interesting a topic. "Obamanation" is just an instance of literary short-hand that leverages pop-cultural vernacular. It also has a near-homophonous attribute that I find amusing.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 10, 2008 10:51 AM


Thanks for the answer.

Posted by: Phil at August 11, 2008 7:46 AM

A joke is only funny once. To repeat it tirelessly is to taunt and tease - such a childish game. It's what makes you a lightweight.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 11, 2008 3:10 PM
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