Ed Driscoll

'Michael Hastings, Obama, and the Swoon'


Neo-Neocon on the recently deceased Rolling Stone journalist, Barack Obama’s creepy cult of personality, and our young and feckless MSM:

Although I’ve criticized Hastings’s writing in the past, that’s not really what this post is about. I extend deep sympathy to his family and consider his death tragic at such a young age. I’m writing this post, though, not to talk about his death, but because I am fascinated by something I came across that I’d missed earlier, which appeared in a book he wrote about the 2012 Obama campaign.

The book might even be an interesting one; I don’t know, because I haven’t read it. It’s called Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama’s Final Campaign, and you can read more about it here, including the quote that grabbed my attention:

One of those off-the-record moments [with the press during the 2012 campaign] was an event where President Obama joined reporters for drinks while the campaign was in Orlando, Fla., an event that Hastings partially details in the book.

“The behavior of the assembled press corps was telling. Everyone, myself included, swooned. Swooned! Head over heels. One or two might have even lost their minds,” Hastings writes, as each reporter had a chance to speak personally with the president. “We were all, on some level, deeply obsessed with Obama, crushing hard, still a little love there. This was nerd heaven, a politico’s paradise, the subject himself moving among us — shaking our hands, slapping our shoulders!”

It’s not as though we didn’t already know about this sort of thing. After all, haven’t we joked for years about “tingles” Chris Matthews of MSNBC and “pants crease” David Brooks of the NY Times? But there’s something about the above quote that still sent a shiver of horror down my spine: the blatant, bizarre, hyper-emotionality and near-eroticism (Hastings, by the way, was not gay) of the attraction.

I can think of no equivalent in modern politics in America. I certainly can in other countries, but would risk invoking Godwin’s Law if I did. The best example in this country I can think of would be JFK, and even then, although the press liked and respected Kennedy (and even loved him, in a sense), the emotion seemed to be more about Kennedy’s wit and humor than anything else.

I simply cannot imagine what it is about Obama that gets people going this way (and yes, I understand there’s a racial element of attraction to a cool black guy, but that doesn’t really explain the depth and weirdness of it, IMHO), except to say that it’s clearly something non-verbal. I believe it has been operating with Obama for virtually his entire life and has worked to his very great advantage. Quite a few people have always reacted to him as though his mere presence were almost supernaturally attractive, as if he exuded a kind of force field that made them—as Hastings so well put it—practically swoon.

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Read the whole thing, and then check out Derek Hunter at Townhall on “Conformity, Death and Double Standards:”

Andrew Breitbart broke the mental monopoly that was news, he forced the door open and held it so others could come through too. For empowering untold numbers of individuals, his death was greeted with glee from the stalwarts of the old way.

Matt Taibbi, a despicable waste of human flesh, wrote a glowing memorial of Hastings the day after news of his death broke. It was filled with praise for a man he admits he didn’t know well, but that didn’t stop him from writing, “For him it was all about getting the story, and at the terribly young age of 33 he was obviously already a master at that.”

Taibbi was a fan of Hastings because he agreed with Hastings. Not as a result of anything Hastings wrote, but in the concept before it was written. They were of the Left. When leftists “speak truth to power” it’s because they weren’t being “Left enough.”

On the other hand, Taibbi published a piece at 3:10 pm the day Andrew Breitbart died, before many of his friends had even heard the news of his death, entitled, “Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Douche.” Less than 24 hours after the man was gone, this vapid partisan ended his opening paragraph with “I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead.”

Andrew committed the sin of joining the elitist country club of journalism without swallowing the red pill of thought conformity people like Taibbi demand from fellow “free thinkers.” Maybe it’s Taibbi’s lack of hairline, maybe it’s the fear that comes from living on the verge of being discovered as a fraud, whatever the case, he’s not alone.

In Andrew’s New York Times obituary entitled, “Andrew Breitbart, Conservative Blogger, Dies at 43,” they described him as “Part performance artist, part polemicist, he used his network of Web sites and their legions of followers to bring conservative media red meat.” Hastings, on the other hand, was immortalized by the Times Public Editor as “a fearless disturber of the peace who believed not in playing along with those in power, but in radical truth-telling.”

A person’s truth that conforms with yours is a hero, one that stray[s] from the conformity plantation and you’re clown.

I forget who it was (but I’m thinking it was Kathy Shaidle, or Jay Nordlinger of NRO) who said that a conservative who’s going places should plan his or her career arc with the goal of maximizing how awful their obit in the New York Times will ultimately be. As with Andrew, the worse the obit, the better the company you’ll be in — especially compared to the people that the Gray Lady has historically lionized in her obits.

(Via Ace of Spades.)