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Ed Driscoll

‘Out of Mani, One’

August 24th, 2012 - 1:12 pm
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“Low blows, lower turnouts and low expectations: Four years after he was swept to victory, how Obama’s election campaign is a joyless slog,” Toby Harnden writes in the London Daily Mail. Obama’s base isn’t exactly fired up, ready to go, to coin a phrase, Harden writes. “There is a sullenness, even resentment, that was not present in 2008. Ask an Obama supporter about their man and as often as not you will get a few words about him and then a demeaning attack on Romney or Ryan.”

And Obama’s real core base* is brittle, surely and entirely predictable, which makes tweaking them so much fun for Mitt Romney. He had to know that his mild jape at Mr. Obama’s expense — “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate” — would cause an enormous case of the vapors to breakout amongst the 21st century Marget Dumonts at MSNBC. It’s the “most despicable bigotry we can imagine!”

Bless their hearts. (And that was on top of Martin Bashir’s meltdown last night.)

As we just saw in the last post, the “liberal Bletchley Park” of the MSM views any criticism, no matter how mild, of Mr. Obama as raaaaaaaacism, and any wavering of support of Fearless Leader as a sign of Disloyality to the Cause, as Roger Kimball notes, regarding Niall Ferguson’s Newsweek cover story.

“There’s a word for people who see the world in such stark terms of good vs. evil: Manichaean,” James Taranto writes today in his Best of the Web column, with an assist from PJM regular contributor David Solway:

 As the capitalization suggests, it’s a proper noun, referring not just to a generic attitude but to a specific creed, founded by a man named Mani. “The religion disappeared from the West in 10th century, and from China in the 14th century, and today it is extinct,” according to an essay by Tore Kjeilen.

Can Mani help us explain The One and his acolytes? Perhaps. “Manichaeism is the largest and most important example of Gnosticism,” Kjeilen explains. “Central in the Manichaean teaching was dualism, that the world itself, and all creatures, was part of a battle between the good, represented by God, and the bad, the darkness, represented by a power driven by envy and lust.”

Gnosticism is a utopian philosophy. Its essential premises are that the world, not man, is fallen and the route to salvation lies in knowledge (gnosis in Greek), not faith. As poet David Solway explains in a PJMedia.com essay: “The world and all its customs, beliefs, norms, usages, and statutes was disavowed as a vast and perverse deception. The imperative was to restore a prior or potential, but shattered, harmony by whatever means necessary and thus to recreate the Creation.”

Solway argues that the psychology of contemporary left “is intrinsically a Gnostic one”:

All of the Left’s diverse manifestations, from radical communism to the more complaisant forms of soft-focus socialism, are actuated by the mystical lure of a harmonious society posited as the end-goal of History–a society in which the elements of conflict have been banished and sufficient wherewithal is assured for all its members. The Hegelian assumption–partially adopted by Marx–of the “end” toward which the forces of History are tending is the secular version of the Gnostic reverie of the benign blueprint that was somehow botched. The Leftist dream of ultimate “ends” mirrors the Gnostic illusion of first beginnings, of a pre-existent purpose. For this psychology, only the Ideal is Real, and the Real is recognized as something that is opposed to the actual, to what is presently the case.

This makes sense of the disconnect between Obama’s largely uplifting 2008 campaign and his unrelentingly vicious 2012 one. Then, he presented himself as “the Ideal,” the bringer of “hope and change” whose promise was “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

And speaking of unrelentingly vicious, it was be fascinating to see how the Democrats’ all-abortion, all-the-time convention will play, as Byron York writes in the Washington Examiner:

If you stand on the floor of a Democratic convention when a speaker is discussing abortion, you can feel the depth of the emotion that many Democrats feel on the issue. Conservatives like to say abortion is a liberal sacrament. Maybe that’s going too far, but it is very, very important. And when something means so much to a group of people, they can easily convince themselves that it means that much to others, too.

Meanwhile, the voters continue to say, overwhelmingly, that they want their president to focus on the economy and job creation. By choosing to spotlight abortion and gay marriage at their national convention, Democrats could give voters the impression that they’ve got their priorities all mixed up. Sandra Fluke may draw headlines, but does she really represent what voters think is most important?

Since we were just discussing leftwing Manichaeanism, a Power Line reader sees a Bizarro World repeat of Pat Buchanan’s Fire and Brimstone culture war speech at the 1992 Republican convention:

2012 for the Democrats is shaping up like 1992 for the Republicans, when Pat Buchanan’s famous “culture war” speech set the tone of the Bush 41 defeat. The Democrats appear to be jumping the shark on Akin and declaring a similar culture war against a straw enemy. Republican leadership has universally denounced the Akin moron, and the Democrats can’t run from the fact THEY funded his campaign, not the Republican establishment.

The tone of self-righteous indignation that is now going to storm the stage may temporarily fire up a narrow part of the base… but it will alienate swing voters and may well chase other parts of their base away from the voting booth.

Or as Ed Morrissey asks, “Will the Dem convention be Abortion-palooza?” Well, that would certainly suit Mr. Obama.

* As opposed to his zombie fake core base — or to paraphrase this USA Today article, man pretending to be president has millions of pretend Twitter followers.

Update: Video above via Small Dead Animals.

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