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‘Obamamania’ on the Wane

The progressive crowd isn't happy and is gearing up to hold Obama’s feet to the fire.

by
Eric Scheie

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December 1, 2008 - 12:01 am
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The more time I spend in Berkeley, California (where I am on an extended visit), the more I find myself wondering about something.

Is the left-wing phenomenon known as “Obamamania” on the wane?

It might be too early to tell, but from what I’ve been reading and hearing, I see clear signs that it is. A number of leftist commentators have worked themselves into quite a lather over Barack Obama’s apparent “centrism” — especially his failure to appoint “progressives” (code language for far leftists).

Things have come a long way since the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Mark Morford mythologized Barack Obama as a “powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity” in a piece which noted approvingly that “spiritually advanced people” saw him as approaching Godhead — as a magical “Lightworker”:

Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.

Whether Morford still seeks the beatification of St. Barack, I don’t know, but these days his paper seems more to be playing the role of devil’s advocate. A recent piece (headlined as “Obama Team Heavy On Centrists — Economic appointments make some Republicans happier than liberals” at the web site) grimly noted Republican praise, and liberal skepticism:

While Republicans were praising Obama’ economic team (Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. said Obama demonstrated “strong and early leadership by his choices), liberal were more skeptical. Noting the heavy reliance on former Clinton administration officials, including Geithner and Summers, Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said both men “supported policies that got us here. They were big fans of financial deregulation, they didn’t take financial bubble seriously — back then it was the stock-market bubble, but they said asset bubbles were not a big deal. The hope is they’ve learned something, and that remains to be seen.”

The Berkeley Daily Planet (“Party’s Over–Time to Get Back to Work“) wasted no time in taking Barack Obama directly to task. The first sentence (sounding eerily like a conservative Op Ed in the Washington Times) laments that “as the economic news goes daily from bad to worse, Obamamania continues unabated.” As the editorial reminds us, the fabled Kennedy of Camelot was a war hawk, and it might be time to take off the rose-colored glasses:

In the words of the song (and the title of the book) Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me. When the symbolic significance of Obama’s African ancestry is added to the mix, it’s an irresistible combination, bound to induce euphoria.

That’s why it’s incumbent on those of us who are mightily impressed with Barack Obama and his whole family to keep our critical faculties intact. Despite good intentions and personal integrity, John Kennedy took the country in some unfortunate policy directions. The disastrous Vietnam war had its roots in the Kennedy administration.

A cloud on this week’s sunny horizon is the lurking presence of Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, two of the villains in the Clinton economic debacle. Bob Scheer in his syndicated column at truthdig.com does a good job of skewering them, and Obama supporters everywhere should suggest to their hero that much better advice is available.

Rahm Emmanuel, chosen for Obama’s chief of staff, is both good news and bad news. He’s smart and competent, but he used his brains and muscle to push Clinton’s dreadful welfare reform policies. His father seems to have worked with the Israeli terrorist group Irgun in his youth, and just caused a flap with racist-appearing anti-Arab remarks quoted in the Israeli press, though Rahm apologized for him later. Perhaps the son is wiser than the father, but let’s wait and watch.

On the other hand, the list of excellent advisers that Obama has assembled is very long, so a few bad apples probably won’t spoil the whole bunch. But — to mix in one more metaphor — it’s time for the rose-colored glasses to come off.

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