In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Crazy Parens | Main | Fact for the Day »

November 09, 2008

Down on Obama?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Peter Hitchens articulates the sourpuss's response to Obama's victory.

Me, what I can't stop wondering about is how the truest of the True Believers -- and, while you may be a mature person / Obama supporter yourself, NYC is brimming with people who really do carry on as though he's the second coming -- will respond once he starts to screw up and disappoint. Because, y'know, all politicians screw up and disappoint.



UPDATE: In announcing Obama's victory, the New York Times used a 96 point headline -- only the fourth time in its history that it has used 96 point type. Writes Joe Strupp: "Previously, only the resignation of Richard Nixon, the first man on the moon, and the Sept. 11 attacks sparked such a large Page One font for the paper." Link found thanks to Design Observer, which also points out this collection of Obama Wins headlines and front pages.

Thanks as well to visitor michael for passing along a link to this hilarious Onion video:

When in doubt about life in America, it's always best to check in with The Onion.

UPDATE 2: Shelby Steele asks a lot of good questions about what Obama's victory means. Lisa thinks that Obama could use a "social adviser."

posted by Michael at November 9, 2008


I recently made the mistake of emailing round one of those illustrations of St. Francis of Assisi with Obama's head photoshopped in. It was really quite funny and probably would have amused The One himself. But one of my (former) friends seems not to have found any humor in it at all. I received a good hosing down in which I was reminded in a not-so-subtle fashion that the South had lost the Civil War. I graciously thanked my ex-good friend for setting me on the straight and narrow and promised never to impugn the immaculate character and spirit of Him in future. (Note to self: be careful what you say to Tramplers-Out-of-the-Grapes-of-Wrath types.)

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on November 9, 2008 1:47 PM

Liberals do not screw up. Other liberals convince themselves of such, and will have rational answers or just rationalizations--to any who beg to differ. It's called the "I did not have sex with that woman" syndrome.

Posted by: susan on November 9, 2008 2:20 PM

Extremists have Borderline Personality Disorder. When disappointed, they demonstrate anger, self-injury, and impulsivity. They can be treated with antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and sometimes antipsychotics.

Posted by: jz on November 9, 2008 2:31 PM

Borderline personality disorder cannot be treated.

Posted by: slumlord on November 9, 2008 3:27 PM

The Onion re Obama supporters - Very Funny!

Posted by: michael on November 9, 2008 3:35 PM

Here's the St. Obama referred to by Charlton Griffin...

Posted by: Eagle on November 9, 2008 4:36 PM

We just witnessed an election that, whichever party won, was going to result in an historical first, first African-American President or first female Vice President. Strong supporters on either side were bound to react to a win in an exaggerated way. I remember the fervor that surrounded JFK's win also being exceptionally strong, which reflected his being the first Catholic President and youngest elected President. That Obama supporters have celebrated exuberantly is not exactly unusual or unprecedented.

On the other hand we also had an election that was conventional in nearly every respect. Two terms of the Bush administration deeply tarnished the Republican brand. The mid-term election shifted Congress to the Democrats. Iraq ceased to be dramatic which made it less a hot button issue and thus less useful to the "strong on defense" Republicans. The extraordinary collapse of the financial sector, more closely associated with Republicans than Democrats, further favored the challenging rather than the incumbent party. It would have been an upset for any Republican to beat any Democrat.

A term developed among many on the right for those whose negative view of George W. Bush passed beyond what supporters thought entirely rational, "Bush Derangement Syndrome". Lefties who, for example, regularly expressed concern about Bush overreaching the Constitutional role of the executive branch with secret signing statements, clauses in the Patriot Act that allow the President to declare martial law, or legalistic legerdemain justifying torture were accused of having BDS.

The appearance of BDS did not, however, seem particularly extravagant or widespread until a few years into the Bush administration, well after there were a laundry list of actual Bush decisions to find fault with. Detractors of Barack Obama have already shown a predilection for wildly exaggerated (if not downright loopy) fears and claims.

Obama is not an America, he's Malcolm X's bastard son, indoctrinated in a Muslim school in Indonesia, guided through a series of affirmative action placements while being trained by hardened domestic terrorists to use the Chicago political machine to run for President. His win (due to tens of thousands of ACORN operatives voting as Mickey Mouse) means he can now lead us into socialism, or even communism, after he makes a bargain with Iran to surrender Iraq and fills the streets with his own version of the Brownshirts.

ODS appears to be a far more virulent and unhinged disease. This no doubt serves to fan the ardor of Obama supporters who find it difficult to ignore the attacks on their victorious, historically significant, candidate. Some will, no doubt, over reach and over react. And, yes, some will have unrealistic expectations that will lead to disappointment that an Obama presidency will not end war and racism, restore the middle class and put a hydrogen fuel cell minivan in every garage.

At the moment the biggest criticism would seem to be that Obama has not (in the scant few days since his election) done anything wildly dramatic or unusual. He seems hell bent on continuing to get up and do what has to be done day-to-day with a minimum of fuss and drama. Is that such a bad thing?

Posted by: Chris White on November 9, 2008 5:48 PM

Well, we're both Obama supporters in this relationship. Heck, The BF flew to Indiana to help turn it blue those last two weeks.

We're also both probably way more lefty than Obama is now and certainly more than he'll be when, as you intimate, he inevitably disappoints...someone. Because you always disappoint someone.

The Moonie feel to a lot of his support swings between striking me as hilarious aaaand not so much. I'm hoping that most of it is just a projection of people's own, individual hopes for the future, and not some pipe dream that Jesus II is going to fly around the world on his magical unicorn, sprinkling fairy dust across the land.

I'm also *extremely* unhappy at the vast sums of money spent on this election, and as an ex-ad whore, that half-hour commercial gave me the creeps. It was the same sick feeling I had watching the Hal Riney "Morning in America" spots back in the day.

I'm glad to see the Onion, Jon Stewart et al are leaning into the funny, and not pulling back or getting righteous. Let's hope it stays that way. And that we have some serious campaign reform in place before 2012.

Posted by: communicatrix on November 9, 2008 6:07 PM

My definition of BDS is fearing the power of a man who is safely, easily and publicly derided by anyone who cares to do it, using just about any major medium or academic institution to express their contempt. If it weren't for Fox, BDS sufferers would have to go looking under rocks to find their vast right-wing conspiracy. (Mind you, Soros would probably pay 'em to lift the rocks.)

Posted by: Robert Townshend on November 9, 2008 7:37 PM

in the first few years of his adminstration, i think it's going to be worse then it was with bush's supporters not being able to admit to flaws (back when he was a bit more popular). everything he does wrong either won't be his fault... or when he betrays liberal ideals just as bush betrayed conservative ideals, his followers will simply change their ideals. the cult of personality in politics will never die i'm afraid.

Posted by: t. j. on November 9, 2008 8:44 PM

The Hitchens piece is brilliant. I wish I had written it. ("You will, Oscar, you will.")

Posted by: Lester Hunt on November 9, 2008 9:30 PM

I like you guys' reasoned position on this Obama madness. I feel exactly the same, and my writing for a reasoned approach on our blog draws the ire of the liberals. But I am a liberal! I find they can be just as whacked as the Right in their messianism.

BTW--found you tonight by accident searching for a Georgia Satellite song to use on our blog (we are a bit eclectic.) You discussed them in 2003 -- excellent!

Posted by: Lisa on November 9, 2008 10:32 PM

I think for a number of Obama supporters, the conduct of the election re-invigorated their faith in American democracy. From the perspective of many Americans, Obama took the high road (relative to the last 30 years) and still won.

For years, people have been saying that the only way to win in politics is to be the dirtier fighter. Many of the people who opposed Obama's nomination did so because they felt that he couldn't play low enough to win. That, and they figured the American people were just too bigoted to win.

For those people who felt that the only way to win was to be the better knife fighter, this election was a tremendous boost because it put paid to that pernicious myth.

Now, to be honest, I'm too cynical to buy it. Massively negative campaigning does work, and would have worked if the stars hadn't been aligned to make a Republican victory all but impossible. (Given the circumstances, I don't think that even if McCain had gone fully negative, which he didn't, he could have won.)

But allowing millions of Americans to believe that politics doesn't have to be a cesspit is an important and significant event.

Posted by: Tom West on November 10, 2008 8:29 AM

It's called the "I did not have sex with that woman" syndrome. --Susan

He did not "have sex" with that woman. He had sodomy with that woman.

(No, not Obama.)

Posted by: Reg Cæsar on November 10, 2008 10:15 AM

...Obama took the high road (relative to the last 30 years) and still won. --Tom West

Hey, wait a minute... 1984 was the cleanest and most civil presidential election since 1792. At Reagan's passing, Walter Mondale praised his old opponent for never having stooped to fight dirty.

Obama's entourage, unlike Reagan and Mondale, wanted to stifle more than incivility. They wanted to stifle debate itself.

Posted by: Reg Cæsar on November 10, 2008 10:24 AM

When he fails his supporters can do what Steve Sailer has already started doing: Blame The Jews. As for BO's Jewish supporters, they can blame the religious right, as usual.

Posted by: James M. on November 10, 2008 10:36 AM

Those of us who saw Tony Blair's first election campaign recognise Obama pretty well (though I guess that he's more intelligent than Blair). I'd call Obama "Tony Beige" if I thought enough people would see the joke.

Posted by: dearieme on November 10, 2008 10:47 AM

Most of them have already stopped paying attention, so they won't know when they should start to feel disappointed. They got their guy, Jesus Elect, in the White House so they don't need to sweat the details. Many of them weren't paying attention during the election either. I asked an Obamabot I work with what he thought of Tony Rezko and he said "who?". Everything negative about him is a right wing slur so why bother?

Of course the real activists will become angry at some point but who needs them now? They no longer count.

I bet he'll do fine; he'll be a lot like Clinton. His beliefs are well left of center but he believes first and foremost in himself. That'll trump any ideology. Look at that Machiavelli he appointed for Chief of Staff, about as far from Bill Ayers as you can get.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on November 10, 2008 11:01 AM

I think the righties here are confusing our general relief that this country finally came to its senses and dumped the Republicans with adulation of Obama in particular. Believe me, we'd be cheering a Hillary victory just as much.

1984 was the cleanest and most civil presidential election since 1792 - Reg

Debatable, but in any case Reagan was running as a popular incumbent. (Clinton's re-election campaign against Dole was equally high-minded.) Reagan's first campaign against Carter wasn't nearly so pristine.

But Reg neatly illustrates the larger point. No matter how far over the top Obama's supporters go in praising their guy, it's still not a patch on the eternal sainthood conferred by wingers on Reagan. And how quickly they forget (or try to forget) their adulation of their "Mission Accomplished" war hero of just a few years ago. No one does blind hero worship like the right.

Posted by: Steve on November 10, 2008 2:32 PM

Ha! Obama-zombies. Zobambies?

Btw, I'd love to see those on the right be able to laugh at themselves.

Posted by: JV on November 10, 2008 3:11 PM

Of course the Times played up the victory. They're the ones who caused it to happen.

Posted by: beloml on November 10, 2008 3:19 PM

For the life of me I don't know what Chris White is talking about. There is no evidence of Obama Derangment Syndrome at present. He has not even taken office yet. What there is is a perfectly rational apprehension about how someone who has said that the Warren Court didn't go far enough, the Constitution is lacking in that it only guarantees negative liberties and that he intends to spread the wealth around, not to mention his long association with and tutelage by the likes of Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers, will govern.

If, during the course of his administration, he is accused of something comparable to the accusation that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance and let it happen or conspired in its happening, THEN there will be ODS.

Posted by: ricpic on November 10, 2008 3:36 PM

No matter how far over the top Obama's supporters go in praising their guy, it's still not a patch on the eternal sainthood conferred by wingers on Reagan.

Right. After all, even before Reagan took office, those right-wing crazies wanted a new national holiday named after him.

No, wait...that's somebody else. The right crazies wanted (gasp!) an airport renamed. Or a building. Or something. And that was after he was President.

Those righties!

And you gotta love that "no matter how over the top Obama's supporters go..."

Well, that ends the discussion!

No matter how over the top...

Don't let anyone say that liberals have no sense of irony. It doesn't need to be said. :-)

Posted by: PatrickH on November 10, 2008 4:09 PM

ricpic - Let me try this again. Re-read my quick pick of Obama-phobe highlights above, they are the barest tip of the iceberg of accusations and misapprehensions some of the more creative among the right have already tossed at Obama. I think they show that ODS already exists in a virulent form.

In fact, your own examples are sufficiently skewed to show some signs of your having a touch of the disease yourself. I listened to the intereview in which the Warren court and “negative liberties” quotes appeared and heard what he was saying very differently. His comments seemed anything but radical, especially in light of the topic - redressing the harms done the African American community by decades of segregation. He appeared to me to be simply saying the court was not structured to address the depth of the issue, that to do so required legislative action. Bush’s signing statements and executive actions (far more worrysome than an old interview) have aimed at dramatically distorting the Constitutional system of checks and balances to expand the executive branch. Obama is hardly likely to do more harm.

And since the wealth has been steadily accumulating among a very tiny percentage of the population due to concious choices in I.R.S. auditing, changes in tax rates, etc. the idea of a return to rates closer to those at the beginning of the Reagan era is far from a radical socialist agenda. Finally, the biggest charge that might be leveled so far at Obama is that he is surrounding himself too heavily with Washington insiders from the Clinton era, not radicals, racial or otherwise.

Posted by: Chris White on November 10, 2008 4:56 PM

Seth Roberts shares some good news about Obama.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 10, 2008 8:01 PM

The "Derangement Syndrome" tends to occur when you perceive that someone is doing something terrible and *getting away with it*.

I think Bill Clinton was perhaps the clearest example of this. Here he was getting his hand caught in the cookie jar, and the electorate didn't care! They still loved him.

I think that drove a lot of Clinton-haters over the edge.

For Bush, BDS really only came into its own in the second term. After all, not only had Bush done all these terrible things, but *they re-elected him anyway*. That's what really drove the Bush-haters crazy. (Real BDS dropped a lot when his approval finally dropped like a rock.)

I think you'll only see ODS (as opposed to the standard fraction that know that the Democrats are really a communist conspiracy to destroy the United States) when Obama does something terrible and his popularity doesn't drop like a stone.

Posted by: Tom West on November 10, 2008 8:13 PM

What does Obama's victory mean about the old "unconscious racism" theory?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 10, 2008 11:33 PM

Legendary investor Jim Rogers thinks the U.S. is already bankrupt, and that U.S. Treasuries will be the next sector to collapse.


Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 11, 2008 1:13 AM

Just chiming in.

Steve nails it on the head: wingnuts are "confusing our general relief that this country finally came to its senses and dumped the Republicans with adulation of Obama".

There is no real way to explain the mess America is in financially or militarily (not to mention the attack on individual rights) other than to place the blame squarely on Bush and his administration. How's it working for you? You want more of the same? People answered "it's not" and "hell no" to those questions in this election.

I like what Obama represents and what he says he'll do in office. That fact that he's charismatic and cool is just icing.

Posted by: yahmdallah on November 11, 2008 10:52 AM

Steve, Yahmdallah -- There are clearly rational Obama supporters, and you aren't finding Bush defenders at this site. But are you really contending that there aren't also crazed, over-fervent Obama believers? So the Onion's video has no satirical validity?

Pretty please don't be Dems with no sense of humor -- the world doesn't need more of those.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 11, 2008 10:59 AM

The unconscious racism theory will re-emerge when Obama makes some mistakes. I bet it will roar back to full-blooded life when Obama makes his first mistake. And is called on it.

Posted by: PatrickH on November 11, 2008 11:29 AM

I thought the Onion's take was pretty funny. Just pointing out the rich irony of the righties here calling foul on hero worship while extolling the virtues (yet again) of Reagan.

Re: Obama and Jane Jacobs, I read today that he wants to create a new director of urban policy position in the White House.

Posted by: Steve on November 11, 2008 12:05 PM

Thanks for the mention, guys.

I am tired of Obama's getting passes from the press. From their characterization of his mother's marriage at three months pregnant to being "in love"(AP) to his "mutt" comment as being "casual and uncontrived" and the approval surrounding his snarky comment that he won't be "holding seances" like former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

We so badly want Obama -- and by extension, ourselves -- to be cool and hip that no criticism attaches to anything the man says. Can you imagine if, say, Bush had referred derogatorily to old lady Reagan as holding seances (which she did not not)? We would say he is snide, flip, probably toking up and certainly inappropriate.

I just want a return to straight reportage. No more slant or cover ups. No more messianism. Just the facts, and right now they're pretty harsh. Even a puppy can't lick them and make them better.

Posted by: Lisa on November 11, 2008 12:22 PM

Oh heck, there are batshit gonzo Obama boosters. Yeah, they think he's gonna wink and all the bad mojo will go away. But, with better healthcare, hopefully they can get their meds adjusted.

Posted by: yahmdallah on November 11, 2008 12:44 PM

Whoa, Shelby Steele? Didn't he write a whole book about how Obama couldn't win? I imagine that's a hot seller right now.

And now he writes "Obama's special charisma -- since his famous 2004 convention speech -- always came much more from the racial idealism he embodied than from his political ideas." Boy, if there was some award for getting it 100% ass-backwards, Steele would win it. But give him credit--he soldiers on, blithely offering up more predictions on the inevitable trajectory of an Obama presidency (which couldn't possibly happen) and how it will be dictated at every turn by our supposed national obsession with race.

Isn't it past time for long spell in the intellectual wilderness for race obsessives like Steele and Sailer?

Posted by: Steve on November 11, 2008 12:54 PM

"Can you imagine if, say, Bush had referred derogatorily to old lady Reagan as holding seances (which she did not not)? We would say he is snide, flip, probably toking up and certainly inappropriate."

Depends on who's talking. If Bush ever poked fun at superstition like that I'd applaud. Thanks so much for pointing at Obama's comment about that, because I hadn't caught it before reading your post.

NOW he's my hero.

Posted by: i, squub on November 11, 2008 2:21 PM

From Steele's article:

"For the first time in human history, a largely white nation has elected a black man to be its paramount leader. And the cultural meaning of this unprecedented convergence of dark skin and ultimate power will likely become -- at least for a time -- a national obsession."

Yes, it will be, and has been, an obsession for Steele, and for Steve Sailer and many others who can't get over Obama's race. And it may be for many black people, who can't believe one of theirs actually made it to the White House. But for the rest of us, it's just a fucking relief to be rid of Bush and to have someone who seems to be competent and reasonable as President. I fully expect to be disappointed numerous times in the coming 4 years over decisions made by the Obama administration (disappointment #1: Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, although that may play out fairly well), but I would bet good money that I will be MUCH happier with and prouder of this president then I was with and of the current prez.

That's pretty much the consensus feeling among all the Obama supporters I know. Just to have someone that doesn't make you wince with embarrassment every time he opens his mouth is a huge fucking improvement.

For what it's worth, I was completely fine with the idea of a McCain presidency up until about 6 months ago when he went into "all means necessary" mode. The choice of Palin was just the final nail in the coffin for me. What does that have to do with anything? I guess to show that I'm not some rabid, knee-jerk leftist fanatic. I'm just a proud liberal.

Posted by: JV on November 11, 2008 3:06 PM

I thought the Onion thing was a bit lame, lame because inaccurate: Obama believers will just keep on believing throughout his presidency. They will not lose the "meaning" in their lives.

Posted by: green mamba on November 11, 2008 4:14 PM

Well, for people to get disappointed over Obama's disappointments, the media would have to actually report those disappointments first. Good luck with that.

Posted by: T. AKA Ricky Raw on November 11, 2008 4:42 PM

Uh-oh. Your president-elect has a massive car-plan. Green cars, of course. Local jobs. Stop the rise of the oceans and so on. Motown saved by Wall-E.

Never mind Marxism. Watch out for appealing-to-the-middle-ground "packages" that promise to keep jobs at home, stimulate the economy...and stop the oceans rising. With fireside chats, mutt on lap, and an adoring media, it's already been shown you can keep a recession going for a decade or more with enough stimuli. Just ask the shade of FDR.

We're ahead of you in Oz. We elected our Labor leader last year. He got warmed up with a $70m grant to Toyota, to help them build hybrids they were going to build anyway. ("Well, Kevin-san, if you insist...but next time you're in Kyoto for that climate-thing, the sushi's on us.")

Now, since it's clear that crap credit is a very bad thing, Kevin has decided that outright giving is the way to go. Billions are to be spent on local production of "green cars" (defined as something that costs far more to make and run than a Toyota Yaris but has the mysterious property of stopping the rise of oceans.)

Sadly, Australia is a country where even an okay conservative government can't see the connection between a $21,000 first-home-owner grant and a $210,000 rise in the cost of some of those homes. And where banks pretend not to notice you didn't actually work to save that $21,000.

It takes about a year for a leftist government to stop gabbing about economic responsibility and get the tax-and-spend thing going in earnest. In the US, you're lucky. You can soon elect a new congress and, if there are any conservative Republicans left, you can have that ideal situation of a charismatic, opportunist executive and a hostile,tight-fisted legislature. Never mind the Clinton...feel the Gingrich.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on November 11, 2008 5:31 PM

The real question re Obama's messianic victory is: what is the country prepared to say no to if he proposes it? What is the press prepared to get critically probing about?

I'm afraid the answer at the moment is not much. That leaves hoping/believing that Obama himself won't get too crazy, despite his (largely ignored in the campaign) voting record. However, absolute power tends to ...

When I start to see some effective pushback, and see where the boundaries are, then I'll (dependng) start to feel a lot more assured. After all, Obama WASN'T elected on promises to be a far lefty or primarily as a representative of the separate ethnic interests of blacks.

No he wasn't. But that doesn't mean there's any effective resistance against such things at the moment either, if he chooses to go that way.

Posted by: dougjnn on November 11, 2008 6:51 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?