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2008 Election &Conservatives &Culture wars Richard Falknor on 14 Jul 2008 11:46 am

Ignoring Obama’s Appeal as “Regenerative Healer”

Many conservatives and old-fashioned liberals understandably expect senator Obama’s presidential appeal to diminish as voters sees the inconsistency, if not the foolishness of many of his prescriptions for America.

But this is not the America of 1972 when voters measured Democrat senator George McGovern’s anti-war, adversary-culture campaign against an incumbent Republican president’s record.

Today is too much the America of Oprah where feeling, not policy can have the last word.

Power Line’s Scott Johnson writes today here:

“Last month, I noted how Obama proclaimed at the end of his victory speech in St. Paul that we would be able to look back on his election to the presidency as ‘the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.’ Obama of course professed to makes this patently absurd claim ‘with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations.’ Well, what of it? In the cover story of the new issue of City Journal, Michael Knox Beran answers that particular question.”

Author Beran whose article here is worth reading in its entirety makes these points:

“Unlike the English Whigs and the American Founders, the modern liberal regards suffering not as an unavoidable element of life but as an aberration to be corrected by up-to-date political, economic, and hygienic arrangements. Rather than acknowledge the limitations of our condition, the liberal continually contrives panaceas that will enable us to transcend it. Barack Obama, in taking up the part of regenerative healer, is the latest panacea. As a society, Obama says, we are hurting.”


“Obama’s charisma, by contrast, is closer to what critic Camille Paglia has identified with today’s television talk-show culture, in which admissions of weakness are offered as proof of empathetic qualities. Talk-show culture is occupied with the question of why we feel so bad, when it is our right under the liberal dispensation to feel eternally good. The man who would succeed in such a culture must appear to sympathize with these obscure hurts; he must take pains, Paglia writes in Sexual Personae, to appear an ‘androgyne, the nurturant male or male mother.'”

“Studiously avoiding the tough-hombre style of earlier charismatic figures, he phrases his vision in the tranquilizing accents of Oprah-land. His charisma is grounded in empathy rather than authority, confessional candor rather than muscular strength, metrosexual mildness rather than masculine testosterone. His power of sympathetic insight is said to be uncanny: ‘Everybody who’s dealt with him,’ columnist David Brooks says, ‘has a story about a time when they felt Obama profoundly listened to them and understood them.'”

“The collectivist dream, Obama instinctively understands, is less scary, more sympathetic, when served up by mama (or by mama in drag).”

Power Line’s Scott Johnson concludes:

“Obama’s appeal, in short, is indicative of a low level of political life, in which freedom is exchanged for the false promise of redemption. Toward the end of the essay, Beran offers ‘the good news is that the country has defenses against [Obama’s] brand of redemptive politics.’ He asserts that these defenses are both constitutional and cultural. Beran does not explore the question how much damage can be done, how much freedom can be lost, before those defenses are triggered. I am much less sanguine than Beran on this point.”

We too are less sanguine – – – unless senator McCain develops and projects an attractive, alternative vision emphasizing a bright future for America, yet one directly arising from limits on government with citizens grounded in traditional Judaeo-Christian teachings about human nature.

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