Obama: He’s Anything You Want Him to Be

Two paragraphs stood out in the Spengler article linked to by Zenpundit below:

I sat in on a session with three leaders of Veterans for Obama, a group of retired young officers who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, courtesy of the New Republic’s writer on the scene, David Samuels. With passion and enthusiasm, these young people spoke of their hopes for nation-building in Iraq. The George W Bush administration should have put twice the resources into the beleaguered country, they harangued me – not just soldiers, but agronomists, traffic cops, lawyers, judges, and physicians. The Department of Agriculture should have mobilized, along with the Department of Justice. 

Nation-building? Doubling down on the US commitment to Iraq? Isn’t that trying to out-Bush the Bush administration, while Obama campaigned on getting out of Iraq and spending the money on programs at home? Unblinking, one of the soldiers said, “That’s what we think Barack will do.” They believed in a more expensive version of the administration’s program, and faulted Bush for half measures – and somehow they believed that Obama really agreed with them, all the public evidence to the contrary. And they believed in Barack with perfect faith. 

I hear variations of this theme constantly on the Left. You don’t see the same level of disagreement with Obama on issues that you see with McCain on the Right. Despite a wide diversity of views on the left side of the spectrum, every individual seems to believe that Obama supports his or her particular set of views. 

It’s a little creepy. 

I see this phenomenon as evidence that Obama’s support comes from a deep emotional need in leftists to see themselves personally validated by having the President be one of them. In order to invest themselves so deeply in a mere politician, they must remake the politician over in their own image. They project their own policy desires onto Obama. 

Obama assists in this process by remaining a cipher and speaking of policy only vaguely. He creates a kind of negative space in which the imagination of the individual leftist fills in what they wish to see. 

Even if Obama wins, he will be a weak President. He will have no true mandate because many people, like the veterans above, will not have voted for his actual policies but for their own individual fantasy projections. When the reality of his presidency does not mesh with their fantasies, they will turn on him. 

4 thoughts on “Obama: He’s Anything You Want Him to Be”

  1. “a deep emotional need in leftists to see themselves personally validated by having the President be one of them”…yep. That also accounts for the vitriolic nature of the attacks on Gov Palin.

    There are too many people who are unable to respect those with skills and backgrounds unlike their own. See my post respecting other talents.

  2. David Foster,

    functional chauvinists–I may steal that.

    I think the broader problem on the arises not only from FC but from a need to find identity and validation in a secular, atomized world. In traditional mores an individuals sense of self-worth and self-respect did not arise primarily out of their relative position in the greater society. Instead, it arose from their conformity to universal standards of behavior. The contemporary leftist rejects such traditional standards and finds themselves, paradoxically, falling back on more primitive standards a sheer social status. They become obsessed with seeing themselves reflected in societies high status individuals because that is the only way they’ve left themselves to judge their own self-worth.

    So we see a lot of people hoping desperately for an Obama victory not because they understand and support his platforms but because they need personal validation of worth.

  3. Obama is an empty suit who has done absolutely nothing except work on his memoirs and run for office. He is a lawyer who never went to court. A law professor who never wrote an scholarly article. A state senator who voted present. A community organizer? Give me a break that is a meaningless title and job. Oh yes, a US senator, who spent his single term there running for higher office. I assume that if he loses, the next volume of his memoirs (working title: “Why Are Those People So Mean to Me”) will be out next year.

    Here is my question what is the best name for him: 0bama, ØBama, Nobama, N0bama, NØbama, Zer0bama, ZerØbama?

    Note: the character used above that is an O with a slash through it is:

    Ø capital o, slash and is invoked by: “Ø” or “Ø”

    from HTML 4.01

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