A view of Obama

Obama’s Berlin speech was basically his standard Democratic primary victory speech, with the same airy but unreal, transcendent but empty, we’re-all-one rhetoric that we’ve heard from him so many times before, though this time expanded into a global context which made it seem even more transcendent to his liberal supporters, and even more menacing to his conservative opponents. My own feeling, at least at the moment, is that Obama is less anti-Christ than New Age b.s. artist, less aspiring president of the world than a global Great Gatsby playing out his hand. For those who haven’t read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, what that means is that Obama is an appealingly romantic but insubstantial figure, destined for a fall.

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Carol Iannone writes:

The question is, will the fall come before the election, so he won’t be elected, or after the election, so he might be president when it comes. Of course, “the fall” might just mean having to be more realistic.

Adela G. writes:

There you go again!

First, you use a quotation from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” as the title of an entry on black savagery. Now you compare that opportunistic huckster, Obama, to Scott’s marvelous creation, Jay Gatsby. Poor Scott Fitzgerald is doubtless now, like T. S. Eliot, spinning in his grave.

But, with one small quibble, I think you’ve nailed it. You are so right about the New Age aspect to his candidacy—it’s Transcendence Lite. I noticed particularly how grandiloquent his phrases were, with parallel construction, alliteration and other stylistic flourishes that he substituted for genuine rhetoric. I had no idea that being an articulate black man could take a person so far. How easily satisfied the left is. Listening to Obama is like gorging on cotton candy.

Now for my quibble. Frankly, I think Obama is more like Tom Buchanan, who took his unearned wealth and privilege for granted and expected that neither he nor his wife would have to face the consequences for their presumptuous decisions and carelessness. (He also had very peculiar racial theories, if I recall correctly.) Jay Gatsby was a poseur, yes, but not totally without decency or integrity. He became someone else to win his place in the world, not to have it handed to him by entitlement. And he may have left behind the father who raised him but at least he didn’t throw him under the bus.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch any of Obama’s speeches, except for brief clips on CNN, but I did read what he said about the global community. It only confirmed my impression of his essential un-Americanism. He doesn’t want to be a leader, he wants to be a player. Someone needs to tell him there’s a big, big difference between the two—or should be.

LA replies:

The Gatsby analogy is meant to suggest that Obama is a man from the margins of society trying to construct himself and to give himself an identity; that he has, to many people, a romantic and amiable aura; and that there is a lack of solidity about him that ultimately dooms his endeavor. The analogy is an analogy, and is not meant to suggest a moral equivalence, let alone a complete sameness. Gatsby never threw his grandmother under a bus. Gatsby didn’t spend 20 years devotedly attending a pathologically hate-filled church, and then lie to the world about having done so.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 25, 2008 02:17 AM | Send

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