Roger’s Rules

Some disadvantages of sainthood

Yesterday, Victor Davis Hanson, reflecting on Obama’s “new messianic rules of engagement,” posted a brief observation on “the advantages of Sainthood.”

he talks about supposedly illiberal Pennsylvanians as a racial group or quips “typical white person”, associates with the racist Wright, and counts on a solid base that votes 90 percent along racial lines, and you are a racist for being disturbed by that Manichaeism. He talks of hope/change, new politics, unity, and bipartisanship and you are cynical and hateful for not buying it and instead worrying that he has a serial propensity for distortion . . . and invective. . . . The immediate advantage is that the nonbeliever is always ridiculed for his devilish skepticism . . .

Hanson went on to note that this immediate advantage–the presumption on the part of the orthodox that dissent is tantamount to heresy–involves an “eventual downside for Obama,” namely that “the loftier the prophet, the more transparent his all-too-human transgressions.”

We will, in the weeks to come, be hearing a lot about Obama’s human, all-to-human failings. George Orwell was right when, in an essay on Gandhi, he remarked that “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.” Obama has so far escaped that judgment. But his prefabricated canonization is betraying signs of decomposition. More and more, we’re seeing variations on the theme of “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Obama and Bill Ayres. Obama and Rev. Wright. Obama and Rashid Khalidi. What does the company he keeps tell us about the man who keeps it? The real issue, of course, but the one thing that the Obama canonization committee do everything in its power to obfuscate about, is Obama’s voting record. It is often pointed out by his opponents that Obama is by far most left-wing candidate ever to be a serious contender for the presidency. Everyone knows, though not everyone will say, what that means. It means, on the plus side, many opportunities for sanctimonious grandstanding. Everyone enjoys a bit of that. But there would be disadvantages, too. Americans would be more heavily taxed, i.e., they would be poorer. They would be less well protected against external threats, including the threat of terrorism. They would find the government intruding into, and controlling, more and more aspects of daily life. Secular sainthood has its attractions. It’s only when it collides with reality that its liabilities become apparent.