Obama’s fake humility

Ever since I first saw Obama on TV, he’s struck me as a raging egomaniac. Of course, if you run for president you have to think yourself better than the other jokers who’ve put up their names for the job. But Obama’s self-image has a messianic ring. The defense I’ve heard from his supporters is that “he’s really talking about America.” While I don’t deny that this is what he claims about his rhetoric, listen to the details and the messianic self-image is clear.

This played out nicely in the controversy over a McCain ad that attacked exactly this aspect of Obama. Here’s the defense of a Salon.com writer (via Sully’s blog):

In doing this, it should be noted, the McCain camp took at least two quotes from Obama out of context. It uses one controversial remark made by Obama that popped up earlier this week, “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.” A Democratic source later told multiple news outlets that, in context, Obama wasn’t speaking about himself but about America generally — the source quoted Obama as having also said, “It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol.’” It’s fairly obvious that Obama was joking in another similar quote used in the video.

Out of context? Nonsense. When you hear the quote in the McCain ad, you know Obama has claimed himself as a symbol of everything great about America, after hearing the “context,” you still know Obama has claimed himself as a symbol of everything great about America, only he’s hiding it in some laughably fake humility–”it’s not about me, but by the way, I represent everything great about America.” Uh huh.

Mother Jones–a liberal mag–nailed this aspect of Obama (commenting on remakrs Obama made in my city of residence, nonetheless!):

I am profoundly troubled that any candidate would chart the course of American history as follows (and I’m rearranging Obama’s history here to make it more chronological):

American Revolutionaries -> Manifest Destiny -> Slaves/Abolitionists -> Suffragettes -> the Labor Movement -> the Greatest Generation -> the Civil Rights Movement -> Himself.

On the whole, McCain has not convinced me he knows what he’s doing. But I like that he’s managed to pin down the scarier parts of Obama’s campaign.

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  1. Wait, wait, let me get this straight:

    There’s a guy running for president who graduated in the bottom 1% of his class in the military academy, got a job as a pilot anyway (apparently because his father was an admiral because the bottom 1% usually end up at obscure desk jobs), was a miserable failure in that job (crashing 5 planes), spent years in a prison causing who knows what mental damage, was waist-deep in causing the S&L scandal (where taxpayers had to pay over $800 billion for the bailout thanks to careless deregulation and corrupt bank managers), cheated on his first wife and then married a woman who stole drugs from a charity, was considered by his own party to be a worse choice for the presidency than George W. Bush, spent the last seven years repudiating everything he ever even claimed he stood for as a congressman, and can’t go for a whole week without either promising to defend a country that no longer exists or pulling a flip-flop on an announced position…

    …and you’re worried that his opponent may win, because you think he may be arrogant.

    There, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason why the rest of your shouldn’t feel sorry for us in America as we circle the drain. Clearly, we Americans no longer have enough sense to come out of the rain, and deserve the crap our elected officials feed us.

  2. You should stick to philosophy. When you get into politics you come across as an ass.

  3. Because in a time of upheaval and turmoil, when our government spies on us with no heed for the law, when the president thinks he is above the law, when we have turned to torture and unjust war to accomplish our ends, when we ignore the havoc we have wreaked on the environment, and when our fiscal policies have pulled the rug out of a once robust economy, the scary thing is not a presidential candidate whose campaign can’t manage to propose a single, serious solution to the above problem, choosing instead to turn yet another election into a smear contest. The scary thing is a presidential candidate who is insufficiently humble. Nice.

  4. Chris Hallquist

    The Vicar: Yeah, real classy engaging in unsupported speculation about a torture victim’s mental health. And none of what you say is relevant to what I wrote about, which is Obama’s delusional self image–I’m not, on the whole, defending McCain.

    Boink Qwerty: Do you realize how YOU come across?

    Tim: You deserve a bit more in response. First of all, who a candidate matters more than you seem to think. Little of the mess of the past eight years could have been predicted from Bush’s ’00 platform. But Bush’s status as a green politician running on name recognition might have been a clue. The fact that Obama thinks his campaign is the equivalent of the civil rights movement should make us worry that he has a rather loose grip on reality on other issues. It’s especially disturbing on issues of government power, because a man with an inflated ego will have an easier time justifying abuses of power to himself, no matter what his theoretical principles are. When you’re the Messiah, your actions are always exceptions to the rule, if not something else entirely.

    This isn’t to say I’m ignoring policy proposals, but Obama isn’t encouraging there either. I wrote at my old blog about how Obama has tried to play both sides on the Iraq issue, effectively but not openly committing himself to staying in Iraq. He’s also made some ridiculous spending proposals that disqualify him from having proposed a serious solution to the budget deficit–see this discussion for example.

    I emphasize that none of this is to say I’m voting for McCain–I will rather probably be voting third party.

  5. The pseudo psychological evaluations tend to go much too far. After whoever wins this election is retired, maybe we’ll have enough unbiased material to work with, but not at this point.

    It was mentioned almost in passing that you have to think you’re better than the others to run for president in the first place. Such a simple and obvious motivation, why not just stop there?

  6. My impression: you have already decided to vote for McCain, for reasons which you have not stated (and of which you may not even be consciously aware). You are now trying to come up with an argument which lets you rationalize voting for him, even though he is so obviously a bad choice. Since he has no substantive good points, you are instead engaged in demonizing his opponent, allowing you to claim that McCain would be the lesser of two evils. The easiest way to do this is to listen to the GOP talking points and repeat them until they seem to have more weight than more serious discussion.

    Therefore it’s okay for you to speculate on Obama’s possible arrogance, even though that might make very little difference in determining whether or not he would do a good job as president, but it’s morally wrong for me to speculate on McCain’s mental health, even though there is evidence that the man has anger management issues which would cripple him in a position as stressful as the presidency, and he refuses to release his medical records to the public, which suggests that there is indeed something lurking there.

    It may be that you are not actually undergoing cognitive dissonance — as you point out, you aren’t actually defending McCain — but it’s a suspicious coincidence that your accusation of arrogance came shortly after that became a talking point of the McCain campaign. If things are as I suggest, then accepting this specious argument would be characteristic behavior.