Streetwise Professor

August 6, 2008

The Next Time You’re in Germany, Senator Obama . . .

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 9:09 am

Try holding your rally in Nurnberg. It’s a much more authentic setting for the effect you are seeking.

I can’t say it better than David Warren:

Germans should be quite disturbed by the spectacle of a demagogue who communicates with the public almost exclusively through mass rallies. Americans should be disturbed by what should disturb the Germans.

I am disturbed that with the general decline of public standards in education, morals, and reasoning, we have come to the point when a candidate like Obama can elude any serious cross-examination, and actually get himself elected President.

This reliance on mass rallies, the clearly deliberate cultivation of a cult of personality, the ovine willingness of masses of people to join the cult with enthusiasm (nay, rapture), the repeated emphasis on unity (not merely national, but international), and the clearly suggested anathemization of those who resist getting with the unity program are profoundly creepy. The marriage of quasi-fascist means to achieve internationalist and “progressive” (read quasi-socialist) ends is deeply troubling.

And perhaps many Americans are in fact troubled. Although Obama’s trip was originally well received, in the week plus since his return, his poll numbers have dropped substantially.

Indeed, the European swing in Obama’s trip was very ill-conceived politically. As I have noted before, to win Obama needs to prevent the defection of large number of Jacksonian Democrats to McCain. If he wins them–or doesn’t lose them too badly–he can take the White House. If he loses them, he cannot win.

But Jacksonians are hardly receptive to their would be President presenting himself to a foreign audience as “a citizen of the world.” They couldn’t care less for the approval of the Germans or the French. They have no interest in seeing the US pass the “Global Test.” Indeed, a preening elitist prattling about world citizenship sets their teeth on edge. They are, for the most part, American exceptionalists who bridle at the prospect of seeking foreign approval. They have no time for German national neurosis and slippery French perfidy. This kind of stuff gets heads nodding on the Upper West Side, and stomachs turning throughout vast swaths of Middle America. The Germans and the French don’t vote in our elections. The Upper West Side is already firmly in Obama’s pocket. Obama cannot afford to alienate western Pennsylvania and kindred regions between the Alleghenies and the Rockies. So the Berlin speech in particular was a gaffe.

And it was a gaffe in the Michael Kinsley sense–a politician speaking the truth. Although Obama has changed positions on many issues in an attempt to turn to the center (a dangerous thing for a supposed conviction politician), now and again he reveals his true political core. Berlin was one of those moments. Unfortunately for him, his conviction will alienate–and apparently is already alienating–the very constituency that he cannot win without.

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