Friday, July 25, 2008

The Second Coming of J.C.

The media are going gaga for Barack Obama. He clearly arouses the kind of hope and love that can, with only a little exaggeration, be described as messianic. Given the criticism the media have endured recently for their uncritical acceptance of President Bush's case for war against Saddam Hussein six years ago, one might think they would take extra care now to put politicians through their paces and evaluate their responses critically. But they are once again failing in this responsibility and allowing themselves to be swept up a wave of popular sentiment.

The U.S. media's fawning over Obama is now beginning to draw attention in the foreign press. Today the Times of London published this hilarious satire, which tells the story of Barack Obama in a way that parallels the story of Jesus in the Gospels: And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times. (Hat tip to CDL.)

Meanwhile, John McCain's campaign assembled a video collage of reporters and pundits expressing their infatuation with Obama and posted it on YouTube. There were two versions, each set to a different Frankie Valli recording: "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "My Eyes Adored You." The former version was the overwhelming favorite of McCainiacs, drawing over 80% of the votes. Unfortunately, both versions were taken down after Warner Music Group objected on copyright grounds, but you can read about it here. (Warner apparently had no objection to non-Obama versions of the songs on YouTube, which you can hear by clicking on the song title links above.)

Obama reminds me not of Jesus Christ, but of a different J.C. – Jimmy Carter. In the early post-Watergate years, Carter was a fresh face who combined a moderately liberal political record and a promise of an end to Washington-business-as-usual with personal integrity and sincere religious values. He was the sort of person on whom many Americans – a majority, as it turned out – could project their hopes for a White House free of the corruption and power politics that prevailed under Nixon. Now, in the wake of another discredited Republican President, Americans are looking for a new Jimmy Carter, and they like what they see in Barack Obama. However, it appears to me that Obama shares Carter's weaknesses as well as his strengths – particularly his inexperience and vagueness on the issues. If elected, Obama, like Carter, will probably turn out to be an ineffectual one-term President.

And then we will once again excoriate the media for failing to do their job.

P.S. While looking for the above picture of Obama and Carter, I came across this article from The New York Observer, which noted the similarities between the two Democratic Presidential candidates five month ago.


Mari said...

Without Carter would we have gotten Reagan?
I'm just not excited about McCain.... and there is the viable black thing I have trouble ignoring.

Roland said...

Reagan almost beat Ford for the GOP nomination in 1976.

If excitement is the main thing you look for in a President, I can see why McCain would not be your first choice. Personally, I don't look to the White House as a major source of excitement. In fact, as I recall the Clinton years I think I would prefer a boring President.

Sara K. said...

Interestingly enough...history now looks back on Carter's legacy with a very positive light (will the same be said of our current president?). It may have been one term - but it was a good one. And if only we had listened to him about his views on fuel efficiency standards and other conservation ideas...we would not be where we are today (gas prices, environmental degradation...though still likely in existence, America would have been better equipped to deal with it). I loved Carter (as a kid) and I welcome Obama! -S

Roland said...

One thing Carter should get more credit for is deregulation. Reagan usually gets the credit for it, but he actually just continued what his predecessor began. Carter did the hard work of getting the ball rolling. (One might argue that ball rolled a little too far under the current administration, but that's another subject.)

On the other hand, Carter's foreign policy was naive and not very effective.