Sunday, October 25, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Your Personal President

(I wrote this BEFORE the Nobel was gifted on the President. How much more does this theory apply?)
Since early in summer of 2008, it was clear that this wasn't your usual candidate or campaign. They were slick, they were savvy and they were everywhere---all the time. This slippery ability to be everywhere at once via the "new media" of the blogosphere, propelled the relatively unknown Barak Obama past the heir presumptive Hillary Clinton. And he did it by having uncounted ranks of bloggers acting as snipers against his peers within the primary and in the election at large.

This type of campaign that centers on the personal nature of the candidate has some serious flaws. First of all, by hanging their star on the candidate as a personal avenue to success, they had to create a persona that would both placate the population while simultaneously promoting an agenda of "social change." Have you heard this before? Social change is not without precedent. A plethora of radical politicians won the day on the wave of social change. But never before has a candidate injected the agenda with their personality. In some religious circles, the concept of a "personal Jesus" is one that presupposes what Jesus would say and do and think. The idea is that by having Jesus as your buddy, you would be exempt from the retribution for failure. Now we have a personal president. He's our buddy, and he approaches every issue based on the plan of smoothly suggesting which direction we should take even over the opposition of the voters.

So while many of his supporters assume that they know what President Obama is thinking, in reality, they haven't got a clue. There's a reason for this. For a long time the media and voters thought that the entire well-being of the nation had to do with them, but in reality, with this administration, it is all about Obama. How else do you explain the almost constant coverage of even the most plebian of speeches? And with so much media support deeply invested in the success or failure of this presidency, they have created a support system that enables the president to traipse even farther down that mirrored path of fame. Listen to the speeches and track how many times this president refers to his own experiences, his own feelings, his own opinions rather than seeking to explain the larger overarching needs of the nation. Is this really what he was elected to do-to fulfill his own dreams even if it is at the expense of the nation? Likewise, it is puzzling and troubling that while the leaders of other nations chose to shine the reputation based on the larger national image that the president and first lady chose to express personal feelings that appear to be more of a royal statement than a national representation.

At this point, early in the president's term, we have pundits and politicians alternately saying he hasn't had enough time to effect change and then excusing President Obama saying he has done nothing. You cannot have it both ways. Either this president is a stymied figurehead who will fulfill few if any of his big ticket promises, or he's someone so into his own image that he doesn't realize the damage he does by his statements and attitudes. If someone in the media is so hesitant of criticism that they would fact check a comedy sketch, then I think we have a problem that starts and ends with The First Ego.