Can We Tone Down the Disingenuous Rhetoric?

Can We Tone Down the Disingenuous Rhetoric? February 20, 2008

Can someone tell me why it is acceptable to ridicule of Obama by acting as if his supporters view him as the messiah? I really do not get it. I find it appalling.

It would be one thing if someone really did use messianic claims for themselves. Then it would be appropriate to point this out and explain why they are wrong. However, Obama is not doing this.  What, exactly, is the point of such dishonest politics? Don’t you think it will create a backlash?  

Not surprising to anyone who reads this blog, I believe G.W. Bush and his call to bring democracy to the world is the closest thing to political messianism we have seen in recent American politics. It certainly brings out a secular-utopian vision. He believes that it is democracy which saves people from the cruelty of tyrants. He believes he is helping to bring democracy to the world. But he is ignoring the fact that many tyrants have come out of democracies, and the system of government within a nation won’t determine how belligerent that nation is. While I think it is right to debate Bush’s policies, it would be ridiculous to create “Bush the Messiah” websites because of his views. Moreover, it wouldn’t lead to people questioning Bush, but my intellectual honesty.  


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  • Have you heard his speeches or the reaction of his followers and certain journalists?

  • Have you heard the speeches of GW Bush and his followers and certain journalists?

    Just because people think Obama will promote a better state, and that he has the charisma to lead the nation together, does not mean they think of him in messianic terms. What you are seeing is typical praises given in political debates by supporters. Fine. We get he has supporters and they think he has a great message. We get they are really moved by him. Why should that be seen as messianic? Again, that is where things fall apart and demonstrate ill-will in dialogue. For it ignores history and ignores the fact that this is just typical in political campaigns. Perhaps the problem is that his critics just don’t feel that supportive of their candidate. Do they think it is better to do negative campaigning because of it, to get their frustration out? It seems that they are just trying to find an excuse as to why they can’t find to support as stongly as Obama supporters do him. That is, of course, what one should expect when one ignores principles in order to vote for someone “who can win.”

  • When, for example, Michelle Obama implies that her husband is the “only one” who can heal the souls of Americans (or at least that he’s the “only one” who recognizes that our souls need healing), then it’s clear that the Obama campaign itself has adopted something akin to messianic undertones (if not overtones).

    I’m afraid it’s not those pointing this out that are being “disingenuous”.

  • Jay

    You need to figure out what she means by souls. There are many ways it can be meant. But, more important, it isn’t outside of American political discourse.

    And if you will look past the words, Republicans think the same thing — they think the soul of America is at stake, and putting in a President which will choose the right Supreme Court Justices will save everything… the words might be different, but they have the same meaning. Indeed, think of the Christian Coalition and its political discussions in the past.

    Instead of ad hominem (as this is) why don’t you deal with issues? Why negative about someone else, when you can be positive about your own candidate?

    For reference, look at these quick examples…

    1) http://www.buchanan.org/pa-92-0817-rnc.html

    2) http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?r=1&ean=9780826217264

    3) http://dir.salon.com/story/media/col/eric/1999/01/20/eric/

    4) http://www.gocec.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=sam&Product_Code=BK0400

  • …it would be ridiculous to create “Bush the Messiah” websites because of his views.

    I don’t agree, actually. In the aftermath of 9-11 many Bush supporters did come to view Bush as a secular messiah, bringing an end to evil through the spread of democracy by military means. Some still do, despite the various interferences of reality with their messianic visions. And there is a significant body of creepy messianists among the supporters of this particular “transcend politics by keeping it safe to murder children” politician too.

  • Henry,

    For the plain and simple reason that some people seem to think of him as the Messiah.

    The question is explored here: http://www.slate.com/id/2158578/

    I understand this is tongue in cheek, but it’s still absurd.

    And also taken up, perhaps not explicitly here:

    Ezra Klein – “Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.”

    http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=01&year=2008&base_name=obamas_gift

  • T. Shaw

    Think you are taking the messiah thing way too seriously. They post that stuff for entertainment purposes. I think some bloggers earn money at it. No one thinks that is reality. Or, is it?

    And, such posters are in grave error by comparing this liberal nothing to the Savior of the World, thus failing to render due honor and reverence to Our Lord.

    I bet McCain was proud to be an American, even while he was being tortured in the Hanoi Hilton. Mrs. O’Bama’s empty rhetoric is not unexpected based on her and her hubby’s statuses as professional American Africans.

    PS: Bush isn’t up for re-election. Start working on yer McCain derangement syndrome, boys and girls.

  • This has got to be the most humorless group of bloggers on the Internet. Good Lord, people.

  • “Think you are taking the messiah thing way too seriously. They post that stuff for entertainment purposes.”

    I get it. Some of these people (who claim to be Catholic, often enough) think messiahship is good entertainment.

    To me, it is not just a piece of ridicule on the candidate in question, it is also making a mockery of Christ.

  • Glen

    As CS LEwis would often point out — just because people think it is funny doesn’t mean it is good. It’s very easy to ridicule someone and then say “oh, don’t you have a sense of humor.” No, it has nothing to do with humor when it becomes this distasteful.

    There is a difference between honest humor and degradation; when the second is being done to create a fervor and hysteria (as I see here “Obama is the anti-Christ” I’ve seen many say as a result of these “messiah” posts), then it really needs to be questioned. Especially since there is, in a way, a mockery of Christ involved in all of this.

  • Not surprising to anyone who reads this blog, I believe G.W. Bush and his call to bring democracy to the world is the closest thing to political messianism we have seen in recent American politics.

    Not to mention his own blatant insistence that it was God’s will that he was elected president and that God told him to invade Iraq. Nothing quite that arrogant has emerged from the Obama camp.

    When, for example, Michelle Obama implies that her husband is the “only one” who can heal the souls of Americans…

    This kind of talk is quite common in presidential campaigns. I agree that there are religious overtones, but not of the degree that we could rightly say the Obama campaign is “messianic” in any special way, not even close to the Bush administration.

  • Henry – As I see it, the Republicatholics are simply desperate to prevent people from voting their hopes rather than their fears.

  • Phillip

    How about this for fears:

    “On Sunday, Doug Wilder, the mayor of Richmond and a former governor of Virginia, went even further, predicting riots in the streets if the Clinton campaign were to overturn an Obama lead through the use of superdelegates.

    “There will be chaos at the convention,” Wilder told Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation.”

    “If you think 1968 was bad, you watch: In 2008, it will be worse.”

  • “… voting their hopes rather than their fears …”

    Yeah, that Obama (PBUH) – appealing to all of our greatests hopes – would never resort to playing on anyone’s “fears”:

    Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama celebrated Roe v. Wade on Tuesday as hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates came to the nation’s capital to condemn it. Obama said he’s worried the Supreme Court is just one vote away from overturning the infamous ruling that allowed virtually unlimited abortions.

    “Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it’s never been more important to protect,” legalized abortions.

    Obama said the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last April in upholding the national ban on partial-birth abortions could be a harbinger of things to come.

    “With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a women’s fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade,” Obama said.

    “The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice. That is what is at stake in this election,” he added.

  • Jay

    I would really like to ask you in all seriousness, do you think your ridicule of the personal dignity of Obama, with all the Islamic insinuations you place upon him now, really does anyone any good (let alone Muslim-Christian relations and how the Church says we Christians should treat Muslims with respect)? How does it relate to Catholic understanding of human dignity and human relationships? How does it relate to violations of the Ten Commandments like — you know, false witness (which I would think would be important to you…. for some strange reason)?

    Why do you have to constantly work to destroy instead of raise up; it’s just like many Orthodox with Catholics — as Vladimir Solovyov once noted, they only understood themselves in being “not those Catholics” instead of having any positive content for themselves. Truly, you can do better. Create a positive political discussion, not the negative. For if you prove the color you see isn’t red, that doesn’t tell us what the color really is.

  • What are you talking about? I don’t buy the “Obama is a closet Muslim” nonsense. Never have.

  • Jay

    Why use “PBUH”? It’s ridicule to him, it’s ridicule to Islam. It’s distasteful to the extreme.

  • Morning’s Minion

    Maybe some of the hero-worship of Obama has gone to far on some of the edges– but it is gravely mistaken to equate this with the mainstream support for Obama. Like others, what I find rather disingenious is the hypocrisy. I will never, ever, forget the hero-worship of Bush and the attempts to crush all dissent circa 2001-03. And of the wave of support for Obama leads to a frenzied nationalistic attempt to invade and occupy another country, then I will dutifully repent my support– but I do not think that will happen.

    And one more thing. Many of those mocking what they see as the hollow optimistic platitudes of Obama are the same people who swooned for a charlatan named Ronald Reagan. Some consistency, please.

  • Wrong, Henry. It’s to point out that people are treating this guy like he’s some sort of modern-day prophet. Or, dare I say it, “messiah”?

    If I wanted to ridicule him vis-a-vis Islam, I’d refer to his middle name, which I’ve never done and won’t do because I think it’s a cheap shot.

    But I’m glad you think you can read my motives. And put the worst possible spin on them to boot. Nice.

  • Yeah, “PBUH” isn’t a cheap shot…. you still don’t get the point.

  • I don’t believe the context in which I use it that it is a cheap shot. It’s certainly not intended to be. As I said, it’s to point out that the guy is treated as some sort of religious icon.

    But you’re right: more and more I’m not getting the point of just about anything you write.

  • Stuart Buck

    Henry — is it OK to poke fun at the over-the-top reaction of some of Obama’s supporters? After all, people who write sentences like the following are just asking for it:

    “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.”

  • And by the way, I don’t ridicule people’s religions or make someone’s religion an issue when it comes to politics. I never once blogged about or commented onRomney’s Mormonism. I have never blogged about or commented on the religion of Obama’s father and step-father, nor have I ever blogged about Obama’s religious affiliation.

    It doesn’t concern me that some people in the pro-life movement happen to be – gasp – evangelicals. And I don’t take daily potshots at Calvinists.

    It is ironic that some seem to be more concerned about imagined attacks on Islam than they are about their own REAL attacks on fellow Christians.

  • Because there’s no built-in room for mockery over lines like “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” or “For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country”?

    Certainly, mockery can go too far. I didn’t mind listening to satire groups like The Capitol Steps on NPR back under Reagan and HW Bush (though life is too short post school-age and I don’t keep up with those things anymore), and I think the Obamamessiah blog has a serious point behind it about the content-free immanentism of many of Obama’s supporters. (If you can’t see that there’s something to satire here when you’ve got Gerald Campbell as one of your authors on here, you might be a little tone deaf in regards to absurdist performance art.)

    I think that what grates fo much for MM, Iafrate and Henry in regards to “Bush worship” is that they don’t like _anything_ positive to be said about Bush, not that we see this kind of messianism about him. Trust me, conservatives have always recognized that Bush is a triffle funny lookin’ and funny talkin’. At times its even a bit of an endearing trait.

    But recall that one of the Republican clarion calls is “Leave us alone to live our lives and be with our families, churches, neighborhoods, etc.” It’s a very different sensibility from the cuddly “the government and me” talk that many modern Democrats seem to fall for. It’s probably not a surprise that the two sides don’t like each other’s rhetoric.

  • “Maybe some of the hero-worship of Obama has gone to far on some of the edges – but it is gravely mistaken to equate this with the mainstream support for Obama.”

    MM, you are correct.

    Actually, what one sees among Obama supporters, more than anything else, is a sense of new possibility residing in their own being.

    Obama’s inspiration has awakened something within individuals that they have either not experienced for a long time or have not experienced at all. He is affirming their desire to be relevant, to belong to community, to be active in the forging of a better America. He is saying that individuals can make a difference in their neighborhood, in their community, and so on. They can forge relations with one another in ways that are enduring. He is saying that we can heal the spiritual alienation that afflicts our society. He is saying that existing problems are not merely of the individual, but they belong to us all. A child’s misfortune is OUR misfortune. A sick person’s misfortune is OUR misfortune. Let’ work together to make America a better place.

    Nothing reflects the Catholic spirit more than a sense of the common ownership of problems. Such is rooted in the Trinitarian nature of the person.

    The excitement that surrounds Obama is not about Obama being some “modern-day prophet,” as Jay would like to claim, No, millions of people are beginning to see within themselves possibilities for the future, possibilities that lie within their own power to effect. They are beginning to see that collectively we can impact the dynamics of America in ways that never seemed possible before. Obama’s politics is a politics of hope, of the “we” not the “me.”

    Conservatives (Reagan, Bush, Jack Kemp) have always talked about empowerment. But they have primarily reserved self-empowerment to the realm of economics. Own your own home, insurance, education, retirement accounts, etc. But this is about isolation, about the autonomous individual.

    Obama is saying something much more profound and resonating, something that taps into the relational density of the human person. He is articulating empowerment in ways that transcend economics and the individual. He is appealing to the power of those heroic virtues such as love, compassion, understanding, and mercy that unite us in common bond. He is asking individuals to engage one another and help to make a more complete human community.

    There are those who shout to the rafters that Obama has some kind of weird “messiah complex!’ Nonsense. What they are really saying, even without knowing it, is this: “Don’t believe a word of what Obama is saying. Stay imprisoned in your isolation. Don’t believe in yourself. Don’t try to storm the barricades of power and wealth. Just stay obedient and in place. Maintain the status quo.”

    How far can such negativity take America?

  • Stuart Buck,

    “Henry — is it OK to poke fun at the over-the-top reaction of some of Obama’s supporters? After all, people who write sentences like the following are just asking for it:

    “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.”

    If this is not happening, please tell me what is.

  • Phil

    Seems to me that those who want to call Barak Obama a political messiah are doing so because they want to use religious terms to discredit him as a political campaigner. That’s just playing politics at the expense of Christian faith and Christian virtue – specifically, the virtue of temperance is degraded when intemperate exaggeration is applied to the relatively modest claims of Mr Obama. If those who make these intemperate remarks want to claim that their politics grows out of their Christianity then they need to rethink the intemperate remarks that they make about Obama.

    PS: PBUH used as sarcasm (and maybe as a back-handed insult) directed against Mr Obama borders on anti-Islamic bigotry.

  • Stuart Buck

    Is that a parody? I don’t get it.

  • “Don’t believe a word of what Obama is saying. Stay imprisoned in your isolation. Don’t believe in yourself. Don’t try to storm the barricades of power and wealth. Just stay obedient and in place. Maintain the status quo.”

    Or perhaps many of us who are skeptical of him believe that we don’t need to be rescued from isolation by a government figure, or given community by someone in the federal capitol, thousands of miles away.

    Demographically speaking, people who are married, have children, or belong to churches are far more likely to vote Republican. Those who are single, young, divorced or childless are far more likely to vote Democrat.

    Thus, with the ferver with which Obama is greeted among his party’s base, we may simply be seeing a slowly breaking realization that the choice (or misfortune) to live as an individual is perhaps not an unmitigated good. Unfortunately, Obama’s political remedies, once his rhetoric is layed aside, appear to provide only the faceless anonymity of the government program to fill this very human void.

  • Phil

    Far more likely, DarwinCatholic?

    If election figures are anything to go by about 50% of the voting public vote Democrat and about 50% vote Republican so if there is any bias based on married state it will very likely be minimal rather than something that could be called “far more likely”

  • jh

    The problem is that even on the political left this Obama is the Messiah rethoric is wearing thin. The “heretics” there are getting louder too.

    Oh Michael Bush did not say GOD told him to invade Iraq. That myth gets tiresome. Bush prayed for guidance but he never said GOd told him to do it.

    Leaving that aside also the whole Obama is the Messiah attacks has a postive purpose. That is the Obama camp is sensative to it and has to go into more details. A perfect example was last night and his victory speech where at least he started talking more policy. My only complaint was it was it went on forever and it is a tad unfair to the other people running that it got so much TV time.

    THe Obama the Messiah theme is much more aimed at a segment of his supporters. People that for their “hope” many seem on the side to think that Republicans and conservatives are the anti Christ. At least a good many that I have met. So in a sense we are poking a tad to see how much of this rethoric of bringing us together and a “new way” is really heart felt

  • “PBUH used as sarcasm (and maybe as a back-handed insult) directed at Mr. Obama borders on anti-Islamic bigotry”

    Bullshit. If you’re going to accuse me of bigotry, you had better find something in my record (and there’s 3 years worth of blogging to look) more substantive than a tongue-in-cheek reference meant to poke fun at the religious fervor surrounding the Obama campaign. That reference is no more “anti-Islamic bigotry” than the tongue-in-cheek messiah references are “anti-Christian bigotry”.

    Stop trying to find prejudicial animus where it doesn’t exist.

  • I believe every word Obama says when he celebrates the anniversary of RvW.

    “You wanna know truth son, I’ll tell you the truth. Your soul’s gonna burn in a lake of fire.” — Iron Maiden

  • Phil

    Well Jay, the Messiah reference may well be back handed anti-Christian bigotry, or at the very least intemperate misapplication of a term that describes our Lord’s role in saving God’s people as a term of political ridicule. PBUH is definitely an Islamic reference, which leaves one wondering why it is being applied to a Christian politician … could it be because his name is somewhat Islamic sounding? In any case, the reference is without doubt intended as a slight with a religious bent aimed squarely against Mr Obama.

  • And no one has addressed the substantive point of the comment I posted, which is that Obama does indeed resort to fear mongering when it comes to the possibility that Roe v. Wade may be overturned.

    But I can understand the discomfort and unwillingness to address that particular point. I supposed if I were in the position of defending the indefensible I’d try to change the subject as well.

  • Yeah, “far more likely”:

    Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) won unmarried voters by 18 points, compared to a Bush margin of 15 points among marrieds — a gap of 33 points.

    The marriage gap is hardly a new feature of politics. In 2000, 71 percent of women who had never been married voted for Gore, compared to 49 percent of married women. In fact, a marriage gap has been evident at least since the early ’80s.

    Moreover the marriage gap does not merely mask some other gap, as a spurious correlation. Even after controlling for the impact of age, race, income, church attendance and a host of other factors, in Election ’04 married women were 11 points more likely to vote for Bush than were singles, while married men were six points more likely to support the president than unmarried women.

    http://hill6.thehill.com/mark-mellman/mind-the-marriage-gap-2004-12-08.html

    I think 33% counts are “far more likely”. One of the elements here is the near-total breakdown of the African American family over the last 40 years. African Americans vote 80%+ Democratic, and the marriage rate for that demographic is under 20%, as I recall.

    I haven’t verified this, but I read in an article the other day that no Democratic candidate has actually won a majority of the white vote since the 60s, so with deteriorating marriage rates among some minorities, that would increase the marriage gap.

    But it’s certainly not only a racial factor. Support for progressive policies correlates highly to marriage.

  • Phil,

    I told you how I intended it. Certainly not as a reference to the “Obama is a closet Muslim” nonsense, which I have already stated I believe to be a cheap shot and wholly without merit.

    You can choose, as a charitable matter, to take me at my word. Or, you can continue to question my motives and call me a liar in addition to a bigot. That’s up to you, and I won’t address the matter any further.

  • Phil

    DarwinCatholic, exactly what percentage of American voters are married?

  • jh

    Goodness the whole Is Obama the Messiah stuff has nothing to do with Islam.

    Again it is more of a jab at a segment of hsi supporters than Obama. As the web site that is quite clever does

  • Phil

    Jay, the issue here is what Henry Karlson included in his post and not what you decided to write in a comment.

  • Phil,

    The census bureau doesn’t track voting or voting eligability versus marriage, and it uses some awkward age breakdowns, but it appears to be roughly: 60% currently married, 10% divorced/separated, 30% never married.

  • “Or perhaps many of us who are skeptical of him believe that we don’t need to be rescued from isolation by a government figure, or given community by someone in the federal capitol, thousands of miles away.”

    You’ve missed Obama’s point. It is individuals that will make the difference in the lives of other individuals. Not government programs. It is for that reason that people have become inspired.

    Do you actually think that he has been able to inspire tens of millions because he is offering new government programs? Surely not. Such a belief doesn’t even make sense.

  • “Is that a parody? I don’t get it.”

    Precisely. You don’t get it.

  • RPFN

    “What you are seeing is typical praises”

    I hope that was a joke. I actually voted for Obama but many of this supporters tear up when they utter his name. Pretty atypical.

  • Phil

    DarwinCatholic, if my arithmetic is correct 60% + 10% = 70% of the voting public are married. Since roughly 50% of the voting public vote Democrat and 50% vote Republican it follows that a base line for calculation of percentages needs to take into account that 30% is less than 70% therefore you cannot add the percentage differentials between married & unmarried persons voting Republican (or Democrat) since 10% of 30% = 3% of the whole while 10% of 70% = 7% of the whole. So … applying this to the figures you mentioned previously

    18% of 30% = 5.4% (this is your claimed pro Kerry bias among unmarried people)
    15% of 70% = 10.5% (this is your claimed pro Bush bias among married people)

    Which implies that Bush won the vote by 5.1% of the total electorate. Is that really what happened?

  • jh,

    “Leaving that aside also the whole Obama is the Messiah attacks has a postive purpose. That is the Obama camp is sensative to it and has to go into more details. A perfect example was last night and his victory speech”

    Can you establish cause and effect? I doubt it.

    Last night in Houston, Obama began to move into a general election mode. It is in general elections where the parties are in competition that specificity becomes more important.

    In primaries, there is a general assumption (unless the party is seriously split as the Republican party is) that the candidates differ little on policy. Thus, the challenge in the primary is to rally support by an appeal to universal aspirations.

    Last night’s change in language is not a response to the Clinton’s charge that Obama is all words. Rather it reflects that Clinton has lost the primary and Obama is moving ahead to clash with John McCain in the general election. This explains the difference in language.

  • Phil

    A clarification. Bush would have won by a differential of 5.1% of the electorate on the figures you gave. That would mean that

    Kerry got 47.45% of the total vote
    Bush got 52.55% of the total vote

  • “DarwinCatholic, if my arithmetic is correct 60% + 10% = 70% of the voting public are married. ”

    Do you have any statistics that address the question: How many times?”

  • Stuart Buck

    Right, Mr. Campbell, I don’t get why anyone would write about Obama in language as swoony and gaseous as that. If you said that he’s an inspiring speaker, that would be fine. But to say that Obama will “summon heroic forces from the spiritual depths of ordinary citizens” is the sort of thing that my 8-year-old would know to be absurdly naive.

  • Phil,

    First off, the divorced/separated figure is currently divorced/separated, thus: not living in a married family unit. I seem to recall that data I’ve seen shows that divorced people trend more Democratic than Republican, but the article on The Hill is specifically contrasting never marrieds (aprox. 30% assuming they vote in the same percentage they exist in the voting age population) with currently marrieds (60% making the same assumptions) and is leaving out divorced/separated.

    So taking those factors into account, I don’t think it’s surprising that you’re getting a victory margin 2.5% off from the real one.

    Where exactly are you going with this line of questioning? Are you saying that the data which The Hill is referencing (it showed up a bunch of other places, just google “marriage gap”) does not underscore a real demographic phenomenon?

  • Since I’ve already got a bunch of Excel sheets open anyway, I couldn’t resist giving this a try.

    Assuming that the Married, Never Married and Divorced/Separated groups were present among 2004 voters in the same percentages that they were in the population data I was able to find, and assuming that the “marriage gap” data is correct, by what percentage must Divorced/Separated voters have voted for Kerry in order to end up with a Bush victory margin of 2.4%?

    It appears they would have to show a pro-Kerry bias of 12%. Believable?

  • Stuart Buck,

    Do you even know what the term “heroic forces” means? It is a very technical phrase whose meaning has been elaborated over and over again by Jacques Maritain and applied to ordinary persons — using those very words. Cut your inner cynicism. It doesn’t square with your coat made from morsels of Catholicism.

  • Let’s see here, Phil and Henry K are closet Obama supporters. Now if that follows to its logical conclusion, they are not supporting the lives of unborn children since Barack Obama is 100% pro-abortion.

    Hmmmm, that would make them Cafeteria Catholics, since they pick and choose what they want to believe.

    Nothing to see here folks, just a bunch of dishonesty and Chomskyspeak going on. Don’t pay attention to these two, it’s pretty embarrasing please.

    Ahhhh, satire, boy it’s hard to stay off that stuff.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    I pity the O-Cultists when they finally realize, as they will sooner or later, that the head of the O-Cult is merely just another politician with a fine talent of spinning vague generalities into pied piper speeches.

    Now to prove that Tony, a/k/a Morning’s Minion is not the only one who can cite Paul Krugman:

    “Both have progressive agendas (although I believe that Hillary Clinton is more serious about achieving universal health care, and that Barack Obama has staked out positions that will undermine his own efforts).

    Both have broad support among the party’s grass roots and are favorably viewed by Democratic voters.

    Supporters of each candidate should have no trouble rallying behind the other if he or she gets the nod.

    Why, then, is there so much venom out there?

    I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody.

    I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. ”

    Nor will Mr. Krugman be the last.

  • Tito

    I am a supporter of Obama? Did you not read my post on Obama?

    This is the problem you have. You can’t dialogue without making up things as you go along.

  • Stuart Buck

    That’s a complete straw man — it doesn’t take any cynicism to point out that Obama doesn’t have the magical powers you ascribe to him, just a tiny bit of common sense.

  • Henry K,

    What part of “satire” don’t you understand?

  • Tito

    That makes everything moral!

  • Henry K,

    I don’t know how to answer that.

    If you’re kidding, then yeah, it was funny.

  • “I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality.”

    This is as silly as it gets. Of course, your not first. A parrot is never first.

    As I said on Henry’s post, what one sees among Obama supporters, more than anything else, is a sense of new possibility residing in their own being.

    Obama’s inspiration has awakened something within individuals that they have either not experienced for a long time or have not experienced at all. He is affirming their desire to be relevant, to belong to community, to be active in the forging of a better America. He is saying that individuals can make a difference in their neighborhood, in their community, and so on. They can forge relations with one another in ways that are enduring. He is saying that we can heal the spiritual alienation that afflicts our society. He is saying that existing problems are not merely of the individual, but they belong to us all. A child’s misfortune is OUR misfortune. A sick person’s misfortune is OUR misfortune. Let’ work together to make America a better place.

    Nothing reflects the Catholic spirit more than a sense of the common ownership of problems. Such is rooted in the Trinitarian nature of the person.

    The excitement that surrounds Obama is not about Obama being some “modern-day prophet.” No, millions of people are beginning to see within themselves possibilities for the future, possibilities that lie within their own power to effect. They are beginning to understand that collectively we can impact the dynamics of America in ways that never seemed possible before. Obama’s politics is a politics of hope, of the “we” not the “me.”

    Conservatives (Reagan, Bush, Jack Kemp) have always talked about empowerment. But they have primarily reserved self-empowerment to the realm of economics. Own your own home, insurance, education, retirement accounts, etc. But this is about isolation, about the autonomous individual.

    Obama is saying something much more profound and resonating, something that taps into the relational density of the human person. He is articulating empowerment in ways that transcend economics and the individual. He is appealing to the power of those heroic virtues such as love, compassion, understanding, and mercy that unite us in common bond. He is asking individuals to engage one another and help to make a more complete human community.

    There are those who shout to the rafters that Obama has some kind of weird “messiah complex!’ Nonsense. What they are really saying, even without knowing it, is this: “Don’t believe a word of what Obama is saying. Stay imprisoned in your isolation. Don’t believe in yourself. Don’t try to storm the barricades of power and wealth. Just stay obedient and in place. Maintain the status quo.”

    How far can such negativity take America?

  • “That’s a complete straw man — it doesn’t take any cynicism to point out that Obama doesn’t have the magical powers you ascribe to him, just a tiny bit of common sense.”

    Soon he will be your president too. What then? Is it Canada? Or Iceland?

  • Stuart Buck

    What an idiotic strawman argument to raise — as if anyone who questions quasi-blasphemous hero-worship of Obama therefore hates Obama to the point of wanting to move to another country.

    I don’t hate Obama; I viscerally like the guy, although I disagree with him on several issues. If he’s President, the country will muddle along just as it always does; nothing will be as bad as his opponents might claim, and certainly nothing will be as utopian as his current worshippers claim.

  • Stuart

    Your “hero-worship” point sounds so much like “saint-worship” points of fundies for some reason.

  • Stuart Buck

    Henry — so what? It’s valid here.

  • So what? I guess all the bowing to kings of old was blasphemy, too? Come on, there is nothing even CLOSE to blasphemous going on; but those who think “hero worship” is evil and vile show to me they don’t even understand veneration and its long tradition. Talk about the culture causing us to disregard respect.

  • The problem is, Stuart, you can’t explain yourself. You point fingers and shout. You use phrases like “quasi-hero worship” as though they denote meaning. But, the only thing such venom reveals is your angry fundamentalist sentiments.

    If you disagree with Obama on issues, or any other person — and that’s all there is to it — just say so. Explain yourself. That is why this blog is offered — to exchange reasoned arguments. No one cares how you feel, or whether you like this or that. They want to know why? They want to know your reasons.

    There were 17,000 Obama supporters at the stadium in Houston last night. Around 15 million have voted for him. Do you really believe they are all “quasi-hero worshippers”? To say they are is just plain nonsense. Such statements makes you come across as a mean-spirited religious fundamentalist or a pseudo-intellectual crackpot.

  • Oh Michael Bush did not say GOD told him to invade Iraq. That myth gets tiresome. Bush prayed for guidance but he never said GOd told him to do it.

    Hmmm… who do you suppose Bush was praying to then, jh?

    Nothing to see here folks, just a bunch of dishonesty and Chomskyspeak going on. Don’t pay attention to these two, it’s pretty embarrasing please.

    Tito, have you actually read any Chomsky since I called you out on this very thing last week? I’m guessing not. My invitation to discuss his books is still open, but I won’t hold my breath.

  • Stuart Buck

    Henry — if you ever want to make an actual argument in defense of the language deployed by Mr. Campbell on this thread, go right ahead.

    Mr. Campbell —

    If you disagree with Obama on issues, or any other person — and that’s all there is to it — just say so.

    Whether I disagree with Obama is not the point at all, and to try to turn the conversation in that direction is a desperate move on your part. The issue is whether it’s appropriate to praise a politician in such hyperbolic and naive rhetoric. The fact that you have to resort to absurdly inapt insults (such as “fundamentalist”!) is a sign that you have no “reasoned arguments” in defense of your paeans to Obama.

    There were 17,000 Obama supporters at the stadium in Houston last night. Around 15 million have voted for him. Do you really believe they are all “quasi-hero worshippers”? To say they are is just plain nonsense.

    It’s also just plain unconnected to anything that I’ve ever said. I imagine there are plenty of Obama voters who take a sane and rational view that he’s a decent guy who has some inspiring things to say, and who would make a good President.

    Then there are the hero worshippers who, seemingly without embarrassment, praise Obama in terms that remind me of the way that teenagers greeted the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. For example, they praise Obama for his magical powers to unleash “a symphonic chorus of unique creative acts whose common purpose is to tame the soul and alleviate the great challenges facing mankind.” Again, you obviously can’t make a “reasoned argument” to defend this high-flown rhetoric.

  • “The issue is whether it’s appropriate to praise a politician in such hyperbolic and naive rhetoric.”

    The statement is neither hyperbolic nor naive. It’s meaning accurately describes what is happening throughout the country. Like most fundamentalist, you have a very narrow view of life.

    “a symphonic chorus of unique creative acts whose common purpose is to tame the soul and alleviate the great challenges facing mankind.”

    This statement is perfectly meaningful. You simply don’t get it. Nor do I think you can get it, judging from your fundamentalist reaction to it.

  • Stuart Buck

    This statement is perfectly meaningful. You simply don’t get it.

    Well, then, humor me: Come up with a “reasoned argument” that 1) begins by defining all of the vague terms you use (such as “creative acts,” or “tame the soul”); 2) explains in exact and concrete terms what Obama is doing or will do; 3) explains in exact and concrete terms how Obama’s actions will supposedly further any of the terms that you defined in step 1; and, 4) for the sake of consistency, explain all of this WITHOUT referring to any of Obama’s policies (after all, you have disavowed any belief in the effectiveness of “policy” on several occasions).

    Good luck.

    Oh, while you’re at it, define the term “fundamentalist.” It usually refers to someone who takes a very literal interpretation of the Bible. Since biblical interpretation has absolutely nothing to do with our conversation, I think you’re using that term only because you’re incapable of thinking of an insult that would actually make sense here (let alone an actual argument).

  • Michael,

    It’s true that it’s a bit silly of Tito to refer to things as “Chomskyspeak” without knowing much about Chomsky, and I can see why you might take using “Chomsky” as an insult a little bit personally since he is an anarchist of sorts and you may thus share some views with him. However, it should at the same time be recalled that while Chomsky has made some influential (and perhaps even valuable, depending on what one values) contributions to linguistics, he has in the political arena made himself a non-academic figures who is something of an open target in matters of ideology. In this sense, he’s entered somewhat the same territory in regards to linguistics that Dawkins has in regards to biology — Dawkins is, in his way, a brilliant biologist, but unfortunately he is best known for his insistence of spending most of his time discussing topics on which he is very much in the wrong.

    Also, while there are some easy targets out there, it generally makes one sound like a snob to make the “Have you read that? I thought not.” attack.

  • Does any Catholic really care how charismatic the babykilling advocate Barack Obama is, or why is voice is inspiring to so many people? I only pray for the victims of his barbaric policies.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • “Oh, while you’re at it, define the term “fundamentalist.” It usually refers to someone who takes a very literal interpretation of the Bible.”

    Here you go:

    Fundamentalist:

    2. characteristic of a fundamentalist; — especially,
    resembling the behavior of a fundamentalist; as, a
    fundamentalist dislike of new ideas.
    [PJC]

    Fundamentalism:

    2. The beliefs or practises based on a rigid adherence to
    some traditional doctrine; extreme conservatism; as,
    Moslem fundamentalism; the political fundamentalism of the
    Christian right.
    [PJC]

    You get it now? You don’t even know how to use the dictionary.

  • “Oh, while you’re at it, define the term “fundamentalist.” It usually refers to someone who takes a very literal interpretation of the Bible.”

    Again:

    “Fundamentalist” has also been used pejoratively against those who hold an intransigent set of beliefs. The term has been used to characterize religious advocates as clinging to a stubborn, entrenched position that defies reasoned argument or contradictory evidence.”

  • Darwin,

    …I can see why you might take using “Chomsky” as an insult a little bit personally since he is an anarchist of sorts and you may thus share some views with him.

    I share quite a bit of his views, yes, both his “anarchist” views, as well as his simple “this is how America acts, yet this is how it treats the rest of the world” views.

    However, it should at the same time be recalled that while Chomsky has made some influential (and perhaps even valuable, depending on what one values) contributions to linguistics, he has in the political arena made himself a non-academic figures who is something of an open target in matters of ideology. In this sense, he’s entered somewhat the same territory in regards to linguistics that Dawkins has in regards to biology — Dawkins is, in his way, a brilliant biologist, but unfortunately he is best known for his insistence of spending most of his time discussing topics on which he is very much in the wrong.

    I think the comparison is silly. Anyone who studies religion/theology knows Dawkins is full of shit and does not know what he is talking about. The same is not true of Chomsky… his work is well respected among political writers. His stuff seems to me to be largely free of ideology and simply catalogues the contradictions of U.S. foreign policy, i.e., this is what America says vs. this is what America does. It’s helpful information that most Americans want to ignore.

    Also, while there are some easy targets out there, it generally makes one sound like a snob to make the “Have you read that? I thought not.” attack.

    It’s not an attack, not at all. It is simply idiotic to comment on a writer that one has not read. I would never get away with the moves Tito makes in class, for example. I have not read much Balthasar, and would never dare to call someone’s views “Balthasarian” if I had never read the guy’s work. Snobbery has NOTHING to do with it. If you haven’t read the guy, SHUT UP. Plain and simple.

  • Stuart Buck

    Mr. Campbell —

    The “reasoned argument” against your rhetoric is quite simple: Terms like “tame the soul” are just crap, and have no definable meaning that relates to anything in the real world. Even if such terms were definable, you haven’t supplied any reason to think that it’s appropriate to look to Obama, as a mere politician, for spiritual guidance, let alone any evidence that Obama actually could do it in the first place.

    By contrast, all you’ve managed to produce in favor of your rhetoric are : 1) Idiotic strawman arguments (like accusing me of wanting to move to another country if Obama wins, or claiming that this is all about whether I “like” Obama); 2) silly insults (like thinking that anyone who dislikes utopian rhetoric is a “fundamentalist”); and 3) assertions that are completely question-begging (like saying that your statements are “meaningful,” but with no further explanation).

    Thus, even if the term “fundamentalist” is an appropriate insult for a “stubborn, entrenched position that defies reasoned argument or contradictory evidence,” you’re the only “fundamentalist” here.

  • “Terms like ‘tame the soul’ are just crap, and have no definable meaning that relates to anything in the real world.”

    That tells us everything. Nothing more needing to be seen. St John Climacus, pray for us.

  • Stuart Buck

    Henry — enough with the condescension, as if you’re above making an actual argument. What do you think “tame the soul” means as applied to anything that Obama could conceivably do?

    (I suppose you’re in a tight spot, though — if you defend Campbell’s rhapsodical rhetoric on the merits as something that is appropriate to say about Obama, then that makes it harder to believe your claims elsewhere that you don’t support Obama).

  • “enough with the condescension”

    Yes, that would be good. Stuart, please. Let this be over. But I expect it won’t be.

  • Stuart Buck

    Henry — if it makes you feel better, the following term is crap as well: “symphonic chorus of unique creative acts.” It’s like the first George Bush mentioning a “thousand points of light” across America — it’s just a rhetorical move that has no real meaning other than, “some Americans are doing good things for their neighbors, and I the President would like to take credit for it.”

    Again, if you’re ever up to the task of making an actual argument here, go right ahead.

  • Stuart

    Someone said, “enough of the condescension.” Words like “crap” “if you’re ever up to the task of making an actual argument” etc are all examples of condescension. On the other hand, real arguments have been made — and ignored.

    I will say one last time – to you. Enough.

  • Stuart Buck

    Henry — saying that a phrase is “crap” is vernacular, to be sure, but it’s in the context of arguing that that phrase doesn’t identify any real and concrete phenomenon that could be empirically traced back to Obama. Whereas someone who refuses to make any argument at all, and instead pretends to ask a particular saint for prayer, is just being condescending.

    And yes, I have a low opinion of your ability to make an argument, ever since you twice called me a liar because you couldn’t think of a valid counterargument.

  • Stuart Buck

    You know, Henry, this is degenerating into a tit-for-tat series of personal attacks. Sorry about this — I should know better than to act that way, and I apologize. If you like, delete my comments after the one at 1:56 pm. I should just leave it at pointing out that 1) Mr. Campbell has not yet made a “reasoned argument” showing that his pro-Obama rhetoric is appropriate, and 2) neither has anyone else.

  • Stuart,

    We need not continue this conversation. It is over.

  • Stuart Buck

    Really? You don’t even want to try to offer anything besides ad hominems, inaccurate insults, and strawman arguments?

  • Stuart Buck

    I mean, do you have any awareness at all that what you’ve said about Obama is just a little bit over the top, or that Obama is just a human being, or that it’s unwise to pin too much fervent hope on a mere politician who will inevitably end up compromising and disappointing you?

  • Stuart Buck

    Campbell: Amy Winehouse is the greatest musician who has ever lived, in all of space and time. Her voice has the ability to bring heaven down to the inner ear of the soul, and to stir rapturous fancies that will revolutionize the very drumbeats of harmony and pitch.

    Me: Isn’t that a bit extravagant? She’s a decent singer and all, but let’s not go over the top. My 8-year old could name musicians who are better than her. Beside phrases as in the latter sentence don’t really tell me anything that’s very meaningful about her music. Can you bring yourself to be more concrete?

    Campbell: Oh, so you hate Amy Winehouse. I bet you want to move to South Africa now that she won a Grammy. You fundamentalist, I bet you don’t even own a dictionary.

    Karlson: You don’t believe in the inner ear of the soul? Well that just says it all right there.

  • Stuart

    Do not put words in people’s mouths. You should know what that is…

    Figure it out. The L word.

    Your analogy shows you do not comprehend the discussion.

  • Stuart Buck

    Henry — you don’t know the difference between a parody and a “lie”?

    I think I’ve got things pretty much right — Campbell has written some awfully over-the-top rhetoric about Obama; I pointed out that fact; and then Campbell’s responses were completely lacking in any reasoned argument, raising nothing above silly strawmen (like accusing me of wanting to move to Canada if Obama wins).

    Are you saying that I don’t “comprehend” your comments, such as “That tells us everything”? Then it’s incumbent on you to explain yourself. You can’t throw out such cryptic and unexplained comments and then sneer at someone for not comprehending them.

  • Stuart Buck

    You also can’t sneer at me for supposedly not comprehending Campbell’s swoony rhetoric for Obama unless you’ve offered a good faith explanation and defense of it. Given that Campbell himself couldn’t even pretend to answer this post, I’d be surprised if anyone else could. But have a go at it.

  • Just read the O.P.

    Ridiculous. One cannot object to ppl calling Obama messianic as something unfair while making the same claim about W.

    Frankly, you need to work on your thought process.

    Nobody ever fainted from adoring W., not even his wife. But this is a regular phenom with Obama. His refusal to actually talk policy and to use lofty language is creating a personality cult such as we have not seen in a long time.

    Many politicians do this and Americans are pretty susceptible. Shades of Manifest Destiny and Exceptionalism? Perhaps.

    But Obama employs the cadences of a preacher, leads the crowds in chants. “Yes we can.” What does that mean?

    We should all be careful of the charismatic speaker whose point seems to be his charisma and vague and airy promises of an unlimited future. Did not Hitler do as much?

  • What needs to be done is an authentic reading of what I said. I didn’t make the same claim about W, but I pointed out, if one followed with the line of reasoning one could make the same claim of W. Quite a bit different.

    Read my post on my views of Obama, which is quite different from my criticism of the attacks on him. It is more than a little unfair, and clearly fallacious, to say someone is charismatic, therefore, they are another Hitler in the making.

  • Not surprising to anyone who reads this blog, I believe G.W. Bush and his call to bring democracy to the world is the closest thing to political messianism we have seen in recent American politics

    you stepped back from the word “messiah” but not from the word, messianism.

  • the use of the expression “closest thing to” is a weasel word. It allows you to make the assertion without having to take responsibility for it.

  • Fr J

    I wrote a long series on that. I didn’t call him messiah or messianic, though, I said he was (in my opinion) the closest thing; but notice that means I am saying he isn’t. Simple logic.

  • Stuart Buck

    Mr. Karlson —

    Either provide a lengthy and detailed argument in defense of Mr. Campbell’s overwrought rhetoric re: Obama, or retract your baseless claim that I don’t “comprehend” this discussion. Thanks.

  • Someone said earlier to fear that Obama would compromise and dissappoint. Pray that if elected he will compromise… his radical pro-baby murder stances are reminiscent of the most barbaric regimes we’ve ever known, God save the unborn, the old and infirm, and the moral man if he is elected and does not compromise.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Stuart Buck

    Fr. J. — you will notice that certain folks, when cornered, will lash out with one-line insults that they will then refuse to explain or defend. Mr. Campbell does this quite predictably and regularly. Mr. Karlson, a bit less often, but he still does it. You can see them both doing this above.

    And in a previous thread, Mr. Karlson had said that Republicans do nothing about abortion. I said that this was factually incorrect, and listed numerous things that they have done. He then responded with two posts accusing me of lying and being dishonesty, because what he had really said was that Republicans do “nothing in reality” about abortion. I then said that “nothing in reality” isn’t any more accurate, given that Republicans have indeed done several things “in reality” that have affected the abortion rate. I also said that even if Karlson felt that his version was somehow more accurate, what had occurred was at most a slight misinterpretation, and that Karlson should apologize for recklessly calling me a liar.

    Karlson never did so.

    All of this is just to say, if you’re new here, be forewarned of what sort of treatment to expect from some people if you offer a counterargument that they aren’t able to answer on the merits.