Ed Driscoll

The Semiotics Of The Anointed

The New Republic explores “Obama in the Balance”, asking, “How does this president handle a crisis?”

Thus far, the answer is not at all encouraging. The current crisis is the election in Massachusetts of Scott Brown, now the forty-first Republican senator. His arrival in Washington has sent Democrats into panic mode–fearful that they too will be swallowed by a seething electorate–and caused many of them to flee in the other direction from health care reform. In short, Barack Obama faces a moment where his presidency just might collapse or, rather, risks heading into a wilderness where it would accomplish next to none of its ambitious goals.

Of course, just as the allusion’s to the Goracle’s cri du coeur implies, it’s not a real crisis — Scott Brown, moderate New England Republican poses no existential threat to the nation. It’s an entirely self-inflicted one to the president, in which, once again, the ideology of the far left, and actually having to govern a center-right nation are proven to be entirely incompatible tasks. (See also: Bill Clinton, who ran to the right of President Bush #41 on numerous issues, attempted to govern from the hard left, and then skedaddled back to the center once the GOP gained control of both houses of Congress in 1994 due to the skewed center of gravity he himself had created.)

obaprompter_1-26-10Ann Althouse and the Anchoress explore the topic of Obama’s state of mind these days further, along with the semiotics of his presidency’s visuals. Let’s start with the former, who incorporates content from the latter in her post:

The Anchoress asks:

Is he clinging to his podium and teleprompters because he has lost his protective shields and does not trust himself without them? The starry-eyed adulation of the press has simmered down to a mere gaze of hopefulness and longing, accompanied by the barest of criticisms, and Obama translates that as the press being “against” him.

She’s analyzing a lot of those photos at the WH Flickr page:

… I keep seeing these awful White House approved photos, and they daily jar me because they seem to reveal the president in very unflattering, troubling ways, like the work of an obsessed and Obama-hating photoshop expert.

They are mostly unflattering when seen by people who don’t like Obama — admittedly, that’s an increasing group. People who like him look at those pics and think they are wonderful.

And this reminds me of something I was saying the other day about liberals. Liberals — I’m generalizing — are so engulfed in their belief that they are the good people, the smart people, that they forget to step back and look at things from the perspective of people who don’t agree with them.

Which dovetails nicely in a perceptive essay from Ace of Spades from 2007, that I may have linked to recently, but is worth revisiting in any case, titled, “The Toxic Self-Delusions of the Liberal Psychology:”

Liberals have a particularly large gulf between their cherished self-image and their realistic self-awareness. Everyone has this to some extent, of course. I’m not saying it’s unique to liberals, just that they often seem to have an especially big gulf between their idealized view of themselves and a more grounded self-assessment.Again, I don’t want to claim that liberals have cornered the market on inflated self-opinions. However, it seems to me that conservatives have far less reservation about admitting they often act due to simple self-interest. Oh, we’re not eager to offer that admission. But because we believe that human beings are inherently flawed — and on this point religious cons and non-religious cons agree, although not for the exact same list of reasons — we’re less hung-up about admitting we act in our own self-interest for no particular greater good or noble purpose.

Liberals have a big-time hang-up with this. Try extracting this admission from a liberal sometime even in the most nonthreatening way. Most will simply not admit it. Or it will take you two and a half hours you’ll never get back.This is, it hardly needs be said, an enormous bit of self-deception on the part of many liberals. (Generally, the less humorous ones, which is most of them; the funny ones, seeing the flaws of humans (including themselves) more clearly have a much easier time with this.) They have a large amount of self-esteem riding on the proposition that they act almost entirely selflessly and thinking only of others in their daily lives.

I’m not saying they’re more selfish than conservatives. I’m just saying there’s a much larger gulf between their actual level of selfishness and their admitted level of selfishness. Their emotional investment in their presumed near-zero level of mercenary impulse causes them to verge more wildly from reality on this point.

Indeed, many liberals seem to believe they have already pretty much acheived the Buddhist ideal of Nirvana, the complete self-abnegation of the soul so that the world is viewed entirely objectively, from an angle’s high-above-it-all point ov view, rather than subjectively, down on actual planet earth competing and striving against millions of other people doing the same. If you don’t believe me, ask them “Would it be preferable to save an American’s life or a foreigner’s?” They will usually decline to express a preference because the destruction of the self and joining of the universal oversoul admits of no feelings of tribal or sectarian loyalties whatsoever; they can’t say “I choose the American if I’m forced to choose” without admitting they haven’t quite attained Nirvana yet.

For serious Buddhists, it’s not hard at all to admit the non-attainment of the ultimate metaphysical state of Nirvana — it’s supposed to be hard, and can take a lifetime. (Or, you know, several lifetimes.) But liberals have this notion that believing in liberalism is itself a very efficient shortcut to that exalted state of emptiness of ego. A Kerry-Edwards bumper-sticker gets you pretty much as far as a lifetime of devotion to the teachings of Krishna.

And speaking of Edwards, nothing demonstrates the disparity between his internal worldview and reality than these  quotes from two people who perhaps spent the most amount of time on the campaign trail with the Silky one:

[Rielle Hunter] told him that he had “the power to change the world,” that “the people will follow you.” She told him that he could be as great a leader as Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr.

* * *

“S–t, they love me — they would do anything for me,” John Edwards would say after getting a big donation, Young writes. If refused, he would say, “What the hell — why are they wasting my time? I’m going to be president. I don’t have time for this s–t. Everyone wants to give me advice. I don’t want their advice. I want their money.”

Young says Edwards is an Atkins-dieter who hated making appearances at state fairs where “fat rednecks try to shove food down my face. I know I’m the people’s senator, but do I have to hang out with them?”

That last line sounds more than a little reminiscent of Harry Reid’s infamous quote in December of 2008, after the Capitol Visitors Center and its air conditioning system were upgraded:

“My staff tells me not to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway,” said Reid in his remarks. “In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. It may be descriptive but it’s true.”

So let’s tie it all together. Both the New Republic’s insistence that Scott Brown’s emergence represents a “crisis”, and the disparity of Obama, Edwards, Reid and other leftists between their vision of the anointed (to coin a phrase), and how they actually function back here in reality. As James W. Ceaser wrote earlier this month in “The Roots of Obama Worship” at the Weekly Standard:

Postpartisanship, we are told, never meant anything as mundane as dealing with the other party. It referred instead to working with those who embrace the consensus of the new era. It therefore explicitly excludes the bulk of the Republican party, which comprises those who cling stubbornly to their theology and metaphysics. Only those elements that have adapted or evolved qualify as potential postpartisan partners. The standard for inclusion is not an expression of popular will, but criteria supplied by the idea of progress. What has made many Americans increasingly suspicious of the office of leader of Humanity is their growing perception that it rests ultimately on contempt for the people.

The conflicting demands of the Religion of Humanity and the presidency of the United States have become most apparent in the administration’s approach to dealing with the threat of Islamic terrorism. The Religion of Humanity, by its own reckoning, admits to facing challenges from two quarters: from those who have not yet fully entered the age of Positivism, which includes the terrorists, and from those who are part of the advanced world but who refuse to embrace it, which includes the likes of George W. Bush. In the present situation, these two groups are understood to have a symbiotic relationship. The existence of the terrorists is regrettable, not only because of the physical threat that they pose, but also because, by doing so, they risk strengthening the hand of those in the West who reject the Religion of Humanity. Supporters of the Religion of Humanity therefore believe they have good reason to deny or minimize the danger of terrorism in order to save the world from the even greater danger of the triumph of the retrograde forces. This is the dogmatic basis of political correctness, and Obama and his team have gone to considerable lengths by their policies and by their use of language to hide reality. But reality has a way of asserting itself, and it is becoming clearer by the day that being the leader of Humanity is incompatible with being the president of the United States. No man can serve two masters.

Scott Fitzgerald’s belief in what constitutes a first-rate intelligence to the contrary.

Update: And speaking of the semiotics of the anointed

Related: From Steve Green’s SOTU drunkblogging soiree: “‘I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.’ Okay. Except you embraced the competence of Jimmy Carter & Herbert Hoover”