There are some consequences to cultivating a creepy cult of personality in order to win elections. For example, there’s always the danger of your more… energetic supporters going overboard in their worship of Dear Leader.
Such was the case at the Soul Train Awards last Sunday, when actor Jamie Foxx declared, “It’s like church over here! First of all, give an honor to God and our Lord and Savior, Barack Obama.” He then led the audience in chanting the President’s name.
There were some attempts to justify Foxx’s behavior by claiming it was some sort of joke, although he doesn’t sound like he’s kidding, and the audience doesn’t appear primed to enjoy robust mockery of the Cult of O.
Would this be a bad time to remind Obama and his acolytes of all that stuff the President said about respect for religion, back when he was fervently trying to convince the world that the American embassy in Benghazi was burned down over a YouTube video? “The future must not belong to those who insult the prophet of Islam,” et cetera. Remember that? Practicing Christians are not amused by the portrayal of modern secular politicians as replacements for Jesus. But presumably their feelings don’t count, because they won’t burn anything down in outrage. Would anyone like to take bets on Jamie Foxx’s probable lifespan if he chooses to declare his beloved leader “the one true Prophet of Allah” at his next public appearance, rather than calling him “our Lord and Savior?”
This isn’t the first time Obama supporters have gone overboard with their slobbering praise. We’ve had celebrities swearing personal oaths of loyalty to him. Schoolchildren have been made to sing hymms about Obama. Newsweek editor Evan Thomas said in 2009 that “in a way, Obama’s standing above the country, above the world, he’s sort of God.”
More recently, a professor at Florida A&M put out a book called “The Gospel According to Apostle Barack,” which is a bit of a demotion from the celestial position Jamie Foxx had in mind for the President, but in the pages of the book itself Obama is explicitly compared to both Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr., so he’s actually more like an apostle-plus or Super-Apostle.
Besides the disturbing North Korean flavor of this personality cult, it’s an expression of the Obama voter’s childlike dependence on government for both intellectual and spiritual direction, and a testimony to the linguistic poverty of this lowbrow era. Earlier generations would have considered it both horrifying and rude for free-born citizens to regard any politician as a messianic figure. Even the best elected officials should be viewed with some degree of skepticism by their moost enthusiastic supporters… if those supporters embrace the traditional American relationship between citizens and the State. But many of us are no longer interested in either jealously guarding our liberties, or the exploring the poetry of language. If people like you, then you’re bigger than the Beatles; you’re Superman, you’re Jesus. There are no fine degrees of awesomeness, and no blemishes upon the face of an icon. Elections are more akin to football games than sober choices of temporary leadership… at as much emotional as they are rational.
For a politician like Obama, this has the salutary side effect of suppressing criticism. Who asks tough questions about the fine point of our Lord and Savior’s actual record? The expression of benevolence is enough; endless credit for good intentions will be extended. Faith takes supporters the rest of the way over the fiscal cliff. Republican politicians and their campaign managers find this all both pathetic and faintly unbelievable… which is why they’re surprised at the appearance of districts that gave Barack Obama a higher percentage of the vote than Saddam Hussein racked up at the height of his power in Iraq.
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