Mortals, Messiahs, and Chickens

December 5th, 2009

By Tom Carter

chickenRoostingIt’s been interesting to see the reactions to President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan.  He announced the decision to send 30,000 more troops, but he assured the country (and the enemy) that they’ll begin coming home about a year after the deployments are complete.

This was a classic of Clintonesque triangulation — the number of troops will satisfy conservatives, the early pull-out date will satisfy liberals.  But it doesn’t seem to be working that way.

When conservatives in Congress pointed out that notifying the enemy in advance of when we will quit isn’t a good idea, the backtracking began.  The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State, among others, assured everyone that the date wasn’t really, well, certain.  Depends on what’s happening at that time.  The withdrawal could be extended over a long period.  And so on.

Liberals, far from being happy with what at least seemed to be a date certain, haven’t reacted well.  Here’s Michael Moore to Obama, quoted in a column by Dana Milbank in The Washington Post:

[Y]ou will do the worst possible thing you could do — destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they’ve always heard is true — that all politicians are alike.

The larger point Milbank makes is that despite the hopes of many true believers, Obama isn’t the messiah.  He’s a mere mortal, and a politician to boot.  His campaign, plus the ignorance and naivete of many of his supporters, created hope and expectations that went beyond reality.  Don’t forget the woman who said, in apparent ecstasy, “…I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car, I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage….”  We can laugh about it, but that was a voter speaking, and there were millions more like her. 

More from Milbank’s column:

It was bound to happen eventually. Obama had become to his youthful supporters a vessel for all of their liberal hopes. They saw him as a transformational figure who would end war, save the Earth from global warming, restore the economy — and still be home for dinner. They lashed out at anybody who dared to suggest that Obama was just another politician, subject to calculation, expediency and vanity like all the rest.

Certainly, Obama gets some blame for encouraging the messianic cult as he stumped for change and hope. “I am asking you to stop settling for what the cynics say we have to accept,” he would say as he wrapped up speeches. “Let us reach for what we know is possible: A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.” …

You’d think his supporters might applaud this sort of thoughtful, methodical leadership as a repudiation of the Bush style of government by political theory. Instead, they’re using words such as “O’Bomber” to describe the president. MoveOn.org launched a petition drive against the policy. Code Pink, the group that heckled Bush officials for years, heckled Obama advisers on Capitol Hill last week. The liberal Web publisher Arianna Huffington told Charlie Rose that the policy “puts into question his whole leadership.”

This is what happens when true believers mistake a mortal for a messiah.

I think Milbank is right.  Obama is at fault for some of the problems with his liberal base.  Most of it, though, is the fault of folks who don’t understand practical politics and the realities of governing.

As Rev. Wright might have put it, Obama’s “chickens are comin’ home to roost.”


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3 Responses to “Mortals, Messiahs, and Chickens”



  1. Lisa |

    I agree about “the realities of governing” but it does make you wonder who will remain to be his supporters.


  2. Brianna |

    I never thought he was a messiah of any sort. I did hope that, not having spent much time in Washington, he wouldn’t be as bad as someone who’d been there his whole life. I thought health care needed to be reformed (though even then, I was thinking more along the lines of tort reform and malpractice insurance than massive spending programs). I was afraid that if we had another conservative in the hot seat, that we’d get more conservative judges in the Supreme Court and lose Roe vs. Wade. I hoped that it would be easier to deal with foreign countries with Obama in the hot seat (note that it wasn’t their good opinion per se I was looking for, merely a little less friction when it came to foreign diplomacy).

    I didn’t understand nearly as much about history or economics then as I do now. I didn’t understand nearly as well the evils of collectivism, or how a nation slid into it (quick hint: government controls and spending is a big step in the bad direction). I had no idea he would pass that stimulus bill, or ruin health care the way he’s doing. The other day, a friend of mine told me he was talking to someone who was a med student and very liberal, she basically said, “Obama is going to screw us all; I almost understand now why you’re a conservative.” I didn’t realize fully what his background was or how it would predispose him to such things.

    I’m grateful the courts are balanced; I think I can support a conservative in the next election without worrying too much about whether it will upset the court balance again in the wrong direction. I’m grateful that religion has been taken out of the political arena; even the conservatives opposing Obama aren’t bringing it up (much) in the course of their opposition. I’m glad for the fact that the surge against him has brought out the American people’s desire for freedom; the tea parties and other opposition has been doing it in more or less the right way, opposing the proper things and doing it peacefully and well (and aside from a penchant to get annoyed about abortion, have been more or less keeping God out of it, for which I am immensely grateful). I think that if the ideas behind the tea parties get put into office, that it will be a very big step in the right direction. Was it worth the damage Obama has already done and will do in the future… I’ll let you know in 2013 when the guy will hopefully be gone from office.


  3. larry |

    Briana
    I agree with your observations on the present day political climate and Obama. If nothing else, he has suerly awaken many that had gone on without paying much attention in the past. It’s a shame that we as a nation have grown to except terrible behavior from the ones we elect to govern.
    Your mention of the courts and religion deserve addressing. Although I may not be eloquent enough to address it properly, please allow me to try. I wish that people would wake up to the other issues that we have to face. Religion and abortion are only two of them.
    I don’t think Rowe-v-Wade will ever be reversed no matter who is in office. It would make us all guilty of infanticide. We cannot go back and right such a wrong so we have made a law that allows it to happen and protect us at the same time.
    Religion will become even less of a factor in coming years
    as Christians go underground. Even though there is an efforts to abolish religion in this country, it continues to exist.


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