Sunday, 15 June 2008

Political narcissism

Scott Stephens has written an interesting analysis of Barack Obama's campaign approach, entitled: The dangers of Obamania: why Barack Obama is bringing out the worst in the American public. For me, as someone who isn't following current events in the U.S. as much as I should be, the following quote was both shocking and sickening ... I don't want to be overly apocalyptic, but it seems to me that with an attitude like this Obama is simply affirming a fatal blindness that caused Bush to plunge America into its current crisis. Not that I don't think America can't be a force for good in the world, but this ... ?

And notice the way Obama expresses himself in the closing paragraph of his speech on the night of the last Democratic primary (3 June 2008):
‘I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment ... when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.’
Doesn’t this demonstrate that, far from representing a seismic shift in the political landscape, Obama’s campaign is little more than a vulgar repetition of Reagan’s political narcissism? And to this extent, isn’t Obama’s message of change simply an appeal to latent antiestablishment sentiment among the public, and thus a craven affirmation of the status quo? No one has framed these concerns with more precision than Shelby Steele, who insists that Obama is ‘neither a revolutionary nor even a reformist’, but rather a gifted politician who is ‘simply infatuated with the possibilities of his own skin color within the world as it is’, and whose genius ‘is to know his currency within the status quo’. One can’t blame Obama for being such a politician; but neither should we confuse his campaign language with the kind of change that America so desperately needs.

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