The Obama Effect: Close Encounters of the Agitprop Kind

One of the creepiest aspects of Barack Obama’s run in 2008 was its cult-like atmosphere. While campaigning, the rhetoric of this tyro Cook County machine hack was something akin to a New Age tent-show preacher calling for the eschaton to be immanentized and souls to be re-engineered, Soviet-style, with quotes such as this:


We’re going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth.

* * * * *

I am going to try to be so persuasive in the 20 minutes or so that I speak that by the time this is over, a light will shine down from somewhere.

It will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany. And you will say to yourself, I have to vote for Barack. I have to do it.

* * * * *

And similarly, Michelle Obama told voters:

We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another — that we cannot measure the greatness of our society by the strongest and richest of us, but we have to measure our greatness by the least of these. That we have to compromise and sacrifice for one another in order to get things done. That is why I am here, because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.

* * * * *

Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

The media, having spent eight years convincing first themselves and then their readers that George W. Bush was the anti-Christ, were thrilled that a self-proclaimed savior had now arrived, and fell hard. Journalists who once prided themselves on being the successors to the tough, cynical men who founded their profession were putty in Obama’s hands. The younger tikes in the newsroom, the Juice Box Mafia that made up the JournoList, ate this stuff up, leading to leftists such as JournoList-founder Ezra Klein (now with the Washington Post) uttering now-hilarious bromides in response such as this:


Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

News photographers invariably photographed the rookie senator in messianic backlit mock halos. And everyday voters responded in ways that now appear sad and desperate in response:

Then there were the wealthier liberals, the people whom now-chastened Obama-supporter David Brooks would define as “bourgeois-bohemians” – high net worth, highly educated upper-middle class Americans who nonetheless long for the tumult and radical chic of the late 1960s. These leftists also fell for Obama’s sophistry, leading a couple of conservative blogs in 2009 to accurately compare them to the investors of Bernie Madoff, one of Obama’s fellow Democrats:

President Obama and Bernie Madoff have an immeasurable amount in common. Both believe in soaking the rich to accomplish their goals and achieve their power. Both are known to be extremely generous with other people’s money, the very same money they’ve snookered people out of, and both are famous for making promises that they can’t, in the long term, keep. Both tactically use money that doesn’t really exist, and like any true Ponzi-scheme, the last people holding the bag are rewarded with seeing the proverbial feces hits the fan.

The original beneficiaries of Bernie Madoff’s and Barack Obama’s tactics, like in all pyramids, come out quite well. They get exactly what was promised to them, thereby causing such excitement at the miraculous results that it creates extraordinary demand for them, peaking at near messiah-like worship. The stimulus-bailout torch burns brightly for those in the front of the line, but becomes dimmer and dimmer, as it’s passed back to the suckers in the back of the line.

Mr. Madoff, like Mr. Obama, only took money from rich people, fat cats, millionaires, evil private jet owners, those that can afford to get bilked. Both have account minimums, a status symbol used to create the illusion that only the select elite will be allowed to participate. In Obama’s case, it seems to be around $250,000 (for a couple, but only $125,000 for an individual filer) Madoff’s, reportedly, was a cool million.

Obama and Madoff both like to hob-knob with the rich, famous, and influential of society, maintaining social networks that would put Donald Trump to shame. Their legendary early results spread like a virus among the privileged few.

Madoff devastated charities that had trusted him for his legendary investment prowess. President Obama will devastate charities with his proposal to vanish charitable tax deductions for the well-healed.

The major difference? One is behind bars, and one is still actively employed, planning new types of schemes to solve such “perceived” problems as global warming and economic inequality. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.


While the road to hell in November of 2008 had an avatar and roadmap, it lacked a movie to memorialize it, until now.

Brace yourself — nothing more I can say can prepare for the full impact of this year’s equivalent of Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, North By Northwest, 2001: A Space Odyssey and every other great film of the past rolled into one landmark cinematic achievement. Its trailer is at the top of the next page.

Ladies and Gentlemen, prepare yourself for… The Obama Effect:

Newsbusters’ Matt Vespa accurately dubs the above clip an “Unintentionally Hilarious Trailer for Pro-Obama Movie,” which is directed by and stars veteran actor Charles S. Dutton as an insurance salesman (a man used to selling and being sold to) who suffers a heart attack and is reborn with a higher cause: becoming Obama’s self-proclaimed John the Baptist. As Vespa writes, “The promoters of the film cast it as a comedy, but it’s NOT a satire. It really does appear to be a serious movie.”

Or perhaps Dutton’s character is the political equivalent of the everyman character portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, compelled by unseen forces to build a shrine to the higher power he perceives to be calling him. The Blaze has screen caps of the entire trailer, including this (presumably) unintentionally hilarious moment:

Click to enlarge for the full infantilizing…Obama Effect.

When you were a kid, did you ever have a shrine to your favorite rock group, sports team, or a film like Star Wars, with posters on every wall of your bedroom? Dutton himself is 61 years old, presumably the character he plays is about the same age, or a few years younger. But in any case, he’s not 12 years old, and yet he’s swooning for Obamamania! (As with Terri Garr before her, no wonder Dutton’s character’s wife, played by actress Vanessa Bell Calloway, shown above, is terrified by the strange path her husband has chosen to pursue.)


As in the summer of 2008, with today’s polls currently showing a neck-and-neck horse race, Obama may yet of course win this fall. But those of us who sat in the screening theater around the corner from the 2008 Republican Convention in Minneapolis and witnessed the debut of An American Carol and watched an army of talented actors, led by David Zucker, who cut his teeth on laugh-a-minute films such as Kentucky Fried Movie and Airplane, know the painful experience that occurs when comedy is sacrificed to agitprop. And knew ultimately the sinking feeling such a film portended as a mile marker on the road to November.

On Wednesday, I had two quotes of the day, which this agitprop film (which ironically, as Big Hollywood notes, benefits from the left’s bête noire, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling) helps to visualize perfectly:

When God is invisible behind the world, the contents of the world will become new gods; when the symbols of transcendent religiosity are banned, new symbols develop from the inner-worldly language of science to take their place.

Modernity without Restraint, The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume Five, 2000.

They did not vote for a President; they voted for a Redeemer, a Christ figure, who would bring Peace to Earth. These moral quandries weren’t supposed to exist anymore, according to their religious-zealot thinking. We were supposed to enter our Thousand Year Reign of Christ on Earth.

Well… Christ isn’t here yet. Sorry about that.

Maybe later, guys.

But keep on pumping out your religious tracts and prophecies. One day, you’ll get a prophecy right. Law of large numbers, after all.

– Ace of Spades today, “Fervent Liberal Polemicist: Why, This Obama Character Certainly Murders A Lot of Innocents With His Drone Attacks, Doesn’t He,” responding to Esquire’s Tom Junod’s newfound epiphany that Obama isn’t God.


Yesterday, a clip of Obama making a recent appearance on CBS News made the round, as the president uttered the now-boilerplate left-wing response that if only he had shaped his narrative better while he was in office, he would have had a more successful presidency. But that’s just it – a great narrative and a supine media can get you into office, but then you have to govern, and then watch as the real world – in the form of markets, employees, foreign countries, and the rest of world – react to your decisions. In the end, the man who promised his most rabid supporters in 2008 that securing his party’s nomination (not even the election — simply trumping fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton in the primaries) “was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” did it all as a smokescreen to cronyism, the base motive of every Chicago hack politician.

Allow me to end this post with one more quote, from Umberto Eco in 2005:

G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

But fortunately, we’re leaving behind plenty of warnings to the future not to repeat those same mistakes.

Related: rounds-up the Twitter reaction to The Obama Effect. Like the aftermath of its namesake’s economic policies, it’s not pretty.

More: At the Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti quips, “Honey, I Shrunk Obama — Four years have miniaturized Obama’s appeal, plans, and rhetoric.”


That’s inevitable when the star’s product fails to live up to his advertising.

Update: Jim Geraghty tweets, “I hear that at the end of ‘The Obama Effect,’ Charles S. Dutton says, ‘I can’t wait to see President Obama at the 2012 NAACP Convention.'”


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