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Works and Days

It Isn’t Easy Being a Saint

January 25th, 2009 - 2:17 pm

All of you readers have had this odd experience. Just remember a bit. Someone you know, even know well, whom you thought was reasonably conservative, if perhaps at least a centrist, who would have welcomed a McCain “moderate” campaign, rather than a hard-core conservative candidacy, suddenly, without warning in a conversation, perhaps over the phone, confesses that he was voting for Obama!

And he was not just voting for Obama, but doing so in almost teen-aged hysterical fashion. I’m not talking of a Colin Powell phenomenon, but someone who had no political interests or career concerns, or need for psychological remissions of sins, someone whose entire political philosophy was seemingly antithetical to Obamism.

It made no sense, you thought, given that the apostate’s previous protestations about being conservative, but not a Bush conservative, would have led naturally to an affinity for McCain. After that you had the weird feeling, perhaps as you remember in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, that anyone at anytime could wake up and almost zombie like not seem like he was before, but apparently docile, happy, and eager to join an entirely new centrally-guided paradigm that would prove for us new automatons to be in our best interests.

This occurred to me on at least ten occasions, with long-time friends, some familiar pundits, and a few in government no less. So I came to appreciate the power of the Obama rhetoric. And there was power too in the desire for change after eight years, and an understandable yearning for our first African-American President.

I was writing a TMS column today on Obama’s soaring rhetoric and the impossible expectations that he imprisoned himself in, and began thinking back on the last two years. What explains his near miraculous rise, when pros had almost coronated Hillary and assured us she would trounce Giuliani?

I suppose Barack Obama made the nation giddy when he proclaimed there were no red and blue states, just Americans. He promised to unite us across political, racial, and religious lines. And for the age of cynicism there was something admirable to returning to the age of belief. For some in one fell swoop they were given exemption for all racial sins and now could continue to live as before-but relieved of white guilt. So we overlooked the racialist sermonizing from Michelle Obama, Barack’s occasional promises for reparations in deed not mere word, and the odd things that a Joseph Lowery said on Inauguration Day that were acceptable for a Civil Rights veteran but would have sent a white professor, journalist, or politician into the Don Imus stocks for a week or two.

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