I'm Feeling Pretty Good About These Remarks on Inauguration Day 2009

I caught a lot of grief on inauguration day 2009 for questioning the general feeling that some new era was beginning.  Most of you may have repressed the memory at this point of what that day was like, but even normally intelligent, well-grounded people were going a bit goo goo that day.  

I am feeling pretty good about the remarks I made that day.  Here is part of what I wrote.

I am not enough of a historian to speak for much more than the last thirty years, but the popularity of non-incumbent political candidates has typically been proportional to 1) their personal charisma and 2) our lack of knowlege of their exact proposals....Folks are excited about Obama because, in essence, they don't know what he stands for, and thus can read into him anything they want.  Not since the breathless coverage of Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault has there been so much attention to something where we had no idea of what was inside.  My bet is that the result with Obama will be the same as with the vault.

There is some sort of weird mass self-hypnosis going on, made even odder by the fact that a lot of people seem to know they are hypnotized, at least at some level.  I keep getting shushed as I make fun of friends' cult behavior watching the proceedings today, as if by jiggling someone's elbow too hard I might break the spell.  Never have I seen, in my lifetime, so much emotion invested in a politician we know nothing about.   I guess I am just missing some gene that makes the rest of humanity receptive to this kind of stuff, but just for a minute snap your fingers in front of your face and say "do I really expect a fundamentally different approach from a politician who won his spurs in .... Chicago?  Do I really think the ultimate political outsider is going to be the guy who bested everyone at their own game in the Chicago political machine?"

Well, the spell will probably take a while to break in the press, if it ever does -- Time Magazine is currently considering whether it would be possible to put Obama on the cover of all 52 issues this year -- but thoughtful people already on day 1 should have evidence that things are the same as they ever were, just with better PR.

And I wrote this about the candidate I actually preferred over the Republican alternative McCain. Which explains why it has been ages since I have voted for anything but the Libertarian candidate for President.  The last election was actually a pleasant surprise, as I was able to cast a vote for Gary Johnson, who I was able to vote for not just as a protest vote but as someone I actually would love to see as President.

  • Elam Bend

    It was a weird time and I never personally got the charm. I felt like the monk in 'Erik the Red', everyone else could see something, but I couldn't. It made me feel a bit like a grump. Once thing that helped though. On the night of the election (I lived blocks from Grant Park in Chicago), a college friend was in town for business. We'd never talked politics and I had assumed he was a big fan. He expressed the same befuddlement I was feeling, which made me feel better. We headed out to grab some drinks with predetermined canned responses to anyone excited about the evening. An interesting night.

  • MingoV

    "Never have I seen, in my lifetime, so much emotion invested in a politician we know nothing about."

    Anyone who wanted to invest some time in 2008 could find out what Obama was. I did so and was appalled that he could win the democratic presidential nomination, much less the presidency. It was obvious before 2008 that Obama was a socialist (the only senator to ever receive a 100% approval score from the Socialist Party), that he hated America, that he hated whites, and that he got through higher education with a combination of affirmative action assistance and a gift for glibness. He also had no particular skills; he didn't even pass the bar exam. He and his wife were part of the Chicago political machine, and they were well compensated. I cannot think of any previous president that had such a horrid background.

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    This goes back to JFK. He was our first superstar celebrity prez.

    Reagan kinda did that too, but he didn’t have the massive left-wing groundswell.

    I knew Obama would be prez when I heard the IL press falling over themselves about him in the 90s, when I lived in Chi-town.

    He was dangerous then, and he’s even more dangerous now.

    Obamugabe sealed the deal with his 2004 DNC speech.

    It’s over.

  • bigmaq1980

    "Never have I seen, in my lifetime, so much emotion invested in a politician we know nothing about."

    When studying history I always wondered how people could give carte blanche support for a political leader, just based on "charisma", as they did in the early/mid 1900s.

    You'd think we have learned the lessons of those horrible times.

    Never in my lifetime did I think I'd have to seriously worry about the future of this country. It is eroding before my eyes.

    It is no longer about "honest mistakes" people make in political choices, or ideology. It is the degree to which this is "organized" effort to hide the reality from the public (not in the sense that it is all centrally planned, but in the mass of willing participants to deny the reality we see, particularly by the main stream media who think of themselves as the noble purveyers of "objectivity" and "accountability" in a democracy).

    Emphasis here on "willing", as in "the end justifies the means".