Cult of Personality: Who Comes to Mind?

January 7th, 2013

By Dan Miller

North Korea, Venezuela and other countries have them. Instead of freedom they provide a benevolent hero to worship.

The leader of a cult of personality has real power in his own right and/or is a front for others, some of whom are expendable if they might diminish the perceived glory of the leader. That happens frequently in North Korea. Officials once thought necessary to enhance the cult leader’s glory are dismissed, sometimes with “extreme prejudice,” when they come to be seen as posing dangers to his continued ascension to greater glory. Sometimes personality cults morph into secular religions. North Korea has one, The Religion of Kim. It started with Kim Il-sung — a competent military strategist — before the current Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un, and continues with him. The perception of glory must be preserved and enhanced if the leader, real or nominal, is to perform his assigned tasks. President Obama’s task is the radical transformation of America.

Wikipedia defines cult of personality as follows:  

A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized, heroic, and, at times god-like public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Sociologist Max Weber developed a tripartite classification of authority; the cult of personality holds parallels with what Weber defined as “charismatic authority.” A cult of personality is similar to hero worship, except that it is established by mass media and propaganda. (Emphasis added.)

As noted here,

Full credit is due Obama for his role in the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. He was cleverly “leading from behind.” But the killing of the American ambassador to Libya and three others in Benghazi—the president bears no responsibility for that. Perish the thought. …

My drift here ought to be obvious. I’m referring to the way the media treat Obama. It’s not always adoring. It’s intermittently fair and even-handed. But overall, what’s distinctive about the press coverage of Obama is the absence of fault-finding, criticism, and dogged questioning. And when Obama makes excuses, as he often does, the media tend to echo them.

No president in my lifetime has been covered so favorably and so gingerly. Never has the press corps been so unwilling to pursue stories that might cast the president in an unflattering light. As a group, the media pride themselves on taking an adversarial approach to politicians and government officials. But in Obama’s case, the press acts like a helpmate.

Along with that, the media seem fearful of offending Obama. This is a new phenomenon in presidential coverage. To my recollection, Obama is the first president to instill coverage anxiety, conscious or unconscious.

The Wikipedia personality cult article continues,

Personality cults were first described in relation to totalitarian regimes that sought to alter or transform society according to radical ideas. Often, a single leader became associated with this revolutionary transformation, and came to be treated as a benevolent “guide” for the nation without whom the transformation to a better future couldn’t occur. This has been generally the justification for personality cults that arose in totalitarian societies of the 20th century, such as those of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. (Emphasis added.)

Wikipedia defines narcissistic leadership as follows:

Narcissistic leadership is a leadership style in which the leader is only interested in him/herself. Their priority is themselves – at the expense of their people/group members. This leader exhibits the characteristics of a narcissist: arrogance, dominance and hostility. It is a common leadership style. The narcissism may range from anywhere between healthy and destructive. To critics, “narcissistic leadership (preferably destructive) is driven by unyielding arrogance, self-absorption, and a personal egotistic need for power and admiration.” (Emphasis added.)

Does anyone need a hint as to the identity of the narcissistic leader of the Cult of Personality whom these sweet children were taught to worship?

Will they grow up to worship him like this?

He is a fitting leader for twenty-first century heroes such as these.

It has been argued that President Obama is King Obama the Irrelevant. Published on January 1st, the linked article contends:

The “fiscal cliff” fiasco has made it clear that President Barack Obama is entirely irrelevant to the everyday task of governing. He is not interested in it, and he is not good at it. He is great at campaigning and terrible at leading. He is essentially a symbol, a political celebrity who could be re-elected forever because people seem to like what they think he stands for, and what he tells them he stands against. But he does nothing positive for the country.(Emphasis added.)

The deal that took shape on Capitol Hill over the past few days and weeks happened almost without President Obama’s involvement–and despite his hyper-partisan press conference yesterday, which nearly poisoned the entire process. No doubt he will be able to offer sophisticated-sounding reflections on the entire affair, which largely repeat analyses from policy briefings and the press. But President Obama was absent, and unwanted.

Vice President Joe Biden–an incompetent poseur–is essentially running the country. President Obama delegates every significant responsibility to him–from drafting proposals to stop gun violence, to monitoring the stimulus spending, to boosting the middle class. In the “fiscal cliff” negotiations and the debt ceiling negotiations before them, Biden was the man chosen to talk with Congress–and Congress evidently prefers to talk to him as well.

Joe Scarborough commented on Morning Joe that

we saw once again during this crisis, the president unable to speak to other human beings and having to call Joe Biden in and say, fix this for me. How many times has that happened? Where the president at the last minute pulls back and say, well. Once again, Joe Biden… I think they have Biden up at the Naval Observatory in glass and they have a hammer saying, “break in case of budgetary emergency.” They always break the glass at the eleventh hour. Biden comes in and does it. Why is it so hard for the President of the United States to do that?

Perhaps President Obama recognized that a personal failure might tarnish his nicely burnished image. Besides, it’s much easier to rule by Executive Decree; even if otherwise irrelevant he could do that.

Unfortunately, President Obama is highly relevant — to destroying the nation and the vestiges of many things for which she once stood. Individual responsibility should be high on any list of things for which she once stood. Now, Government strives to discourage individual responsibility and to encourage people to accept welfare.

The federal government is choking our economy while it degrades the character of a proud people.  The food stamp program is purposefully undermining “mountain pride” in Appalachian communities in order to create more wards of the welfare state.

It should be a scandal that the federal government is purposefully weakening a core principle of our value system: self-reliance.  To wit, the feds are praising local bureaucrats for “counteracting” what they call “mountain pride.”  These bureaucrats are convincing people who characteristically reject food stamps to instead embrace a culture of dependence.

This article continues the thought:

The federal government is rewarding taxpayer-paid bureaucrats for working to “counteract” this sort of pride in oneself and desire for self-reliance — bureaucrats are now winning awards given by other bureaucrats based on how successful they are at making people more dependent on the state and are celebrating the debasing of individuals.

Counteracting mountain pride means to take away from individuals who once where full of delight, dignity, honor, satisfaction, and self-trust.

And counteracting mountain pride means to take free citizens of the state and make them instead demure, docile, fawning, low, obedient, obsequious, servile, subjugated, and timid.

Let that sink in for a moment — the government is now giving awards out to government agents who turn happy and strong individuals into weak and low subjects. This is where your tax money is going, right now, today — to awarding those who figure out best how to work to destroy everything that our nation is built on.

Is there now an American cargo cult of personality for those who don’t understand where gifts from “Obama’s stash” come from? Do they recognize that the “gifts” given to them are provided, not by their Dear Leader but by others unlike them, the “undeservedly rich and selfish,” from whom his Government takes them? Can they not conceive that as their benefactor overwhelms those who created their bounty the cargo will necessarily diminish? Or do they think that the Obama Stash is limitless?

They probably never heard of Margaret Thatcher, who said “They [socialists] always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.”

The Bard of Murdock wrote this little poem about the cargo cult which is displacing American values (h/t Conservatives on Fire).

Oh every year on Christmas Eve
I climb into my bed,
And dream of gifts I know will come
From Santa and his sled.

For Santa brings me this and that,
And other things for free.
So I believe in Santa Claus
And what he does for me.

The Easter Bunny does the same
With malted eggs and sweets.
So I believe he must exist
To furnish me with treats.

My Uncle Sam is kinder still,
And not just once a year!
By magic, every single month,
He makes a check appear.

So I believe in Uncle Sam,
With faith that’s tried and true,
And stronger when the things I get
Were lately owned by you.

Free stuff is highly appealing and the current push for people gun control right now to take firearms from responsible adults while there is a convenient crisis — and before too many people think about what is happening — seems to be another step in that direction. Once gone, will the nation, like Tara, reappear with a facade of renewal but devoid of her former spirit inside?

We have admired many leaders in the past, some good and some not so good; few if any (and I can think of none) courted or received fawning admiration as does President Obama. It seems strange that a cargo cult of narcissistic personality managed to attain a large following in a nation that had long relished independence and other components of freedom. Has freedom become passé as governmental dependence becomes widespread to the degree that the majority want a benign father figure to provide for and otherwise to care for them?


Please, sir, may I have some more?

Update, or something.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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