I first suspected that glasnost had begun infecting the U.S. during the 2008 elections, when the Democratic Party proclaimed Senator Barack Obama an American Messiah. The senator agreed. On June 8, 2008, during an speech in New Hampshire, he stated that the beginning of his presidency would be “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet to heal.”[iv] An indiscreet YouTube sequence shown on Fox TV revealed the picture of Communist idol Che Guevara hanging on the wall of Senator Obama’s campaign office in Houston.[v] Soon after that, the Democratic Party’s electoral gatherings began looking like Ceausescu’s revival meetings—over eighty thousand people were assembled in front of the now famous Greek temple resembling the White House that had been erected in Denver, to cheer for America’s new Messiah.
Quite a few Americans regarded this rhetoric as a new expression of democracy. For me, it was a replay of Ceausescu’s glasnost, which had been aimed at transforming Romania into a monument to him. “A man like me is born only once every five hundred years,” he proclaimed over and over.
Was Senator Obama pulling off a Ceausescu-style glasnost? Well, I doubt that he had any idea of what glasnost really meant. He was wearing short pants—in communist Indonesia—when glasnost was all of the rage. But when I juxtaposed some of the things that Senator, and later President, Obama did along with his public pronouncements, against the modus operandi and the history of glasnost, I found myself awfully close to a real glasnost.
Let’s go through the exercise together, so that you can judge for yourselves.