Monday, November 10, 2008

On President Obama (2)

Barack Obama is a politician.

Which I say not merely to express the "bleedin' obvious", but to express 'He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!'

Also, I do not say it as a criticism - what else would we expect a candidate for elected office to be? Yet clearly the language being used by some about this election is a language that has its home in the religious realm and, like it or not, messianic hopes are being invested in Obama. One question: has he colluded in this?

In his autobiography Obama writes "It was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves. They were more than satisfied; they were relieved - such a pleasant surprise to find a well-mannered young black man who didn't seem angry all the time."

What this describes is someone who is very aware of the impact that he has; of the psychological dynamics in play; in particular, of the way in which projection can function. This has been a hallmark of his campaign - the preservation of an ambiguous but non-angry persona onto which all manner of quasi-religious longings can be placed.

I do not blame Obama for this. As I say, he is a politician, and he has done what he needed to do in order to be elected. However, having raised these hopes and allowed them to be invested in himself he will carry the burden of either realising them (which would be miraculous) or accepting the consequences of failure.

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