Friday, February 8, 2008

Go Obama!

Let's call today's installment of "Go Obama!" The Backlash Edition. You know what I'm talking about -- the way the modifier "cultish" has become the new "unelectable" or "inexperienced" in NObama-speak. This ABC round-up observes TPM's Kathleen Geier "getting increasingly weirded out by some of Obama's supporters," Time magazine's Joe Klein finding "something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism" and MSNBC's Chris Matthews resorting to Biblical comparisons. But I liked Joel Stein's account of this phenomenon in the LA Times best:

Obamaphilia has gotten creepy. I couldn't figure out if the two canvassers who came to my door Sunday had taken Ecstasy or were just fantasizing about an Obama presidency, but I feared they were going to hug me. Scarlett Johansson called me twice, asking me to vote for him. She'd never even called me once about anything else. Not even to see "The Island."

The campaign dispatches of ex-Gawker man -- and Obama vote-caster -- Choire Sicha show a similar eye for the comedy of fanaticism ("They sure like to chant 'yes we can!' " he writes of one Obama drinking event). It has something to do with the issue of Obama's "coolness," summed up by the New York Times as a choice heavy with aesthetic/lifestyle connotations: "Is Obama A Mac And Clinton A PC?" The comparison is fun but worrisome -- not only is it "not clear that aligning with the trendy Mac aesthetic is good politics," those commericals are kind of annoying anyway.

"People want to vote for him because it feels like a dare," Sicha writes. "It feels like a treat. It’s just so crazy, they’re thinking! And why not? Everyone’s doing it!" Enthusiasm (and even a little pump-up music) is great -- if it's backed with substance. But there's a lot to be said for playing it cool, too. As Stein concludes:

... The best we Obamaphiles can do is to refrain from embarrassing ourselves. And I do believe that we can resist making more "We Are the World"-type videos. [BP: My brother calls the video "the kiss of death."] We can resist crying jags. We can resist, in every dinner argument and every e-mail, the word "inspiration." Yes, we can.

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