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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

watch it: the weekly address from President-elect Barack Obama

Still sounding good… but can he pull it off?

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  • Chris

    Do not question the Messiah’s abilities….

  • Jurgan

    I’m so sick of this damn “Messiah” bullshit. Where does it come from? What, are people so cynical that any charismatic, popular politician is immediately denounced as a cult leader? Please, STOP!

  • Chris-E

    It comes from the Louis Farrahkan comments made during the election. He referred to Obama as the “messiah”.

    I didn’t vote for him, but I hope he does well. Really. My only problem is not with him, but the “followers” who act as if he’s the greatest President who ever took office, yet he hasn’t taken office yet. It’s okay to be enthusiastic, but people need to keep their eyes open and be objective.

    There will be struggles and he will not be perfect, but hopefully his thorough judgment and ability to not be reactionary will allow him to do great things. We need a real leader, especially with tough times ahead.

    He will be tested from the get go. Both by his political party (who already feel like he is their puppet – good for him for putting them in their place earlier this week!) and by international conflict. The Israeli conflict is growing more fierce by the day and now other Middle Eastern countries are entering the fray.

    Like him or not, he IS the President and judgment (good or bad) should be reserved until he has actually started the job.

  • Nathan

    the “messiah” thing doesn’t have anything to do with Farrahkan…

    1)it mocks the fact that so many people believe(d) in Obama in a way that transcends every day politics.

    2)maybe related to (1) a messiah is a restorer and a liberator and a lot of people felt in need of both restoring and liberating after several years of Bush/Cheney. I think Obama’s rhetoric and persona represented a kind of cultural synthesis that, again, transcended normal politics. Clinton would have been sufficient change but, for many people, with Obama came a sense of spiritual fulfillment — a sense of Zeitgeist or history in action.

    3)many people on the Right longed for Bush to be a kind of messiah that would restore traditional “family values” and be a kind of New World Charlemagne… but that didn’t quite work out, so now i suppose it makes a lot of people feel better to mock Obama supporters for having the same sense of longing for a leader that embodies their values

  • Chris-E

    Nathan, pa-lease. People started using the moniker as a slight against Obama after Farrakahn made the statements (I think he made those remarks in January of 2008). The right-wingers picked up on it since so many of Obama’s supporters were acting like Obama could turn water to wine. Others now seem to want to embrace it.

  • Nathan

    So Obama had a lot of supporters who thought he could turn water into wine but no one would have come up with the word “messiah” until that trend-setter Farrakahn supposedly said the word?

    Whether it was a wacko saying the word “messiah” positively or an asshole saying it derisively, the cultural factors and circumstances of the success of the Obama campaign preceded those utterances. And those circumstances spontaneously make people think of — whether derisively, tongue-in-cheek, or otherwise — a messiah or Hidden King, if not literally (hopefully) then in a psychological or mythological sense.

    And a lot of that has probably worn off by now and the rest will wear off as soon as he takes office.

  • bitchen frizzy

    –“So Obama had a lot of supporters who thought he could turn water into wine but no one would have come up with the word “messiah” until that trend-setter Farrakahn supposedly said the word?”

    Moot. Farrakahn did in fact make the first widely-reported reference to Obama as messiah. Then conservative pundits picked up on it. The rest is history.

    –“And a lot of that has probably worn off by now and the rest will wear off as soon as he takes office.”

    Hence the concern of widespread disillusionment in his base of public support, and the doubts growing in the minds of many like MaryAnn. Was Obama oversold, were expectations unfairly high, or both? That’s the question, and that’s why the messiah reference keeps popping up in the days before inauguration. It’s a convenient shorthand – a meme, as some have put it.

  • MaryAnn

    the doubts growing in the minds of many like MaryAnn.

    I’m not one who has been worshipping Obama, and my doubts have always been there: I didn’t vote *for* Obama so much as I voted *against* McCain.

    I appreciate that people want a leader who embodies their values. I want that too. But I don’t see that in Obama. He was closer to my values — at least apparently so — than McCain was, but calling Obama liberal or progressive is laughable: Obama is, at best, centrist. And I don’t trust any politician to do anything other than what’s good for him and what’s good for the corporations who support him financially until I see some evidence to contradict that.

  • bitchen frizzy

    That’s true. My bad. You were never one of the worshippers or koolaid drinkers.

    A better choice of words than “growing doubts” might have been “fading hopes”.

    I was hoping he would be a centrist in the positive sense; i.e., practical enough to work with everyone. I’m beginning to believe he’s a centrist in the worst way.

  • Chris

    Wow it’s funny that one little joke can spark such a debate. No one seems to have a problem making a joke at old Dubbya but turn towards the prophet and the city will burn. That said people are looking at Obama, whom I very much supported this election, as some sort of savior and not a politician. That he going to bring miracles to not only the USA population, but to the whole world. Obama will do what any other President does, try to push their agenda without pissing off the base or shutting themselves off from independent voters. You will not see goverment health care or peace in the middle east. American troops will not be out of the gulf region anytime soon though they may move back to Kuwait. Oil drilling will expand. Even if he does accomplish more goals than most presidents it will still take another 20 years to have any idea of what the whole effect of his adminstration was for the U.S. so until then, watch, observe and hope that his choices are the right choices.

  • bitchen frizzy

    What makes you so sure Obama HAS an agenda? I see little evidence of one. Election rhetoric isn’t an agenda, at least not in my mind.

  • Chris-E

    What’s wrong with being a centrist? This is a big country and people live very different lives from coast to coast. You can’t please everyone, you just have to do what you feel is best. A smart politician will not take the country to a place that 50% of them do not want to go.

    I think people who live in large cities take mid-westerners for granted. What’s good for people in New York is not for people in Phoenix or Kansas City and vice versa. That’s why states should be able to exercise their rights and the federal government should not be interfering all the time. If people want a certain lifestyle then they should be able to go where they can be happy, but you can’t force everyone to change or accept it.

    Obama is more left than right. Did anyone really believe he would “change” politics? The game is only played one way and he had to fill positions with existing politicians. It’s not like he can make a Secretary of State or Homeland Security director in a lab.

    Still, if he can end the Iraq War, keep us safe at home and settle down the economy he will be considered an excellent President.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Depends. Do you mean “centrist” as in “consensus-builder” or “centrist” as in “status-quo preserver”?

    Nothing at all wrong with the former.

  • Chris

    Bitchen Frizzy,

    Everyone has an agenda. Obama’s will probably be centered around two things, education reform and increasing alternative energy. A third will probably be pushing for some health reform but that would only come about in a second term. It isnt meant as a slap to Obama but he is a politican and to think he doesnt have an agenda is just dumb. He would fail if he didnt have an agenda.

  • Chris

    As far as this centerist talk, he has not yet proven himself to be a Bill Clinton yet, whom everyone thought was going to be a liberal but pushed big conservative reforms after his election. For the record he is simply a liberal right now. He loves to vote with his party and has never really challenged them. Until he does so as President that’s what he will be precieved as. Now there is a difference here, I’m not calling him a far left huffington post/Nancy Pelosi liberal, but I’m not yet ready to call him Bill Clinton/Joe Lieberman yet.

  • MaryAnn

    Nancy Pelosi liberal


    If people want a certain lifestyle then they should be able to go where they can be happy, but you can’t force everyone to change or accept it.

    Chris-E, can you give us an example of a “lifestyle” thing that someone has attempted to force upon you?

  • JoshB
    Nancy Pelosi liberal


    That’s strictly a matter of perspective, and yours is decidedly not a mainstream one.

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