Barack Obama’s personality and speaking ability have made him a media darling since the 2004 Democratic convention. But campaigning in Iowa, his unfocused optimism has rapidly declined into the same old tired liberalism.
Obama — like all liberals — believes he knows what’s good for you: in fact, better than you do.
Obama’s standard stump speech, repeated over and over in Iowa, says in part that politicians shouldn’t tell people what they want to hear but what they need to hear. Implicit in that is Obama’s belief that he knows more than Iowans do about the issues that should be important to them.
At the Art Institute of Chicago last year, a student garnered attention when he fashioned a statue of Obama as Jesus. As I wrote in a previous column, the statue was “capped with a neon halo and lifting his hands in peace, the effigy…a physical enrichment of the senator’s recently elevated public persona.”
Analysts have jokingly referred to Obama as the “Messiah” due to pointed coverage of his “peaceful” message. Newspapers from the New York Times to the Boston Globe have scrounged up quotes from college classmates and friends that Obama “defus[ed] battles large and small” and “sometimes g[ave] warring classmates the impression that he agreed with all of them at once.”
With so much positive coverage, it’s easy to see how it could go to his head.
His approach to foreign policy increased popularity among Democrats and undecided voters. Moreover, he touts his 2003 vote against the invasion of Iraq as a foundational marker of wisdom against Hillary Clinton’s vote for the war.
Earlier this year, he told audiences that faith had been “hijacked” in large part “because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right…[were] all too eager to exploit what divides us.”
Obama often speaks like a humanitarian, last week telling an Iowa audience that “hope is — that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting for us around the corner.” But his noninterventionist approach to foreign affairs and belief in socialized healthcare and entitlement programs proves he believes that government is superior to free will.
Obama’s vision is dependent on his belief that people are fed up with President Bush and the Republican Party. But Obama is part of the Democratic Congress that is even lower than the President in popularity, with a 9% approval rating.
In addition to being a media darling, Oprah Winfrey’s recent endorsement caused a wave of Obama publicity. Winfrey told an Iowa audience that “we need a leader who shows us how to hope again in America as a force for peace.” Her speech sounded similar to a Sunday morning church sermon. But will Oprah deliver more than just publicity? Generally, celebrities don’t deliver more than their own entourages. Oprah may be different.
The latest Des Moines Register poll has Obama with 32% to Clinton’s 25% and veteran political reporter Robert Novak predicts Obama will come in first tomorrow night. If Obama beats Clinton in Iowa, his ego may be grown even more than hers is damaged.
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