Poor, bare, forked animals…like the rest of us

While i understand the catharsis for many of seeing G.W. Bush back to Texas and i recognize – and share – the pride this nation finally elected something besides a cracker to the highest office in the land, i remain concerned about the cult of presidentialism.  I had hoped that we saw its height with Mr. Bush, but Mr. Obama seems to be reaching for the summit.  This has nothing to do with how he might govern or his ideals, only with the transformation of the President of the United States into a celebrity.  Our celebrity culture is petty and trite to begin with.  Why should we care what Angelina Jolie (-Pitt?  See, i’m not very up on this shit.) thinks…or what some Hollywood star is wearing…or who they’re sleeping with…or whether they pledge to drink less bottled water.  These aren’t even real people, they’re characters.  It is appaling to me to see politicians treated as, and affecting the behavior of, celebrities.

Modern Western people often find it strange that the old gods could be so fallible: Hera chasing Zeus chasing any female that moves and the cosmic domestic disturbances that shook Mt. Olympus.  But there is a mythological function to it.  It explains reality by mirroring reality.  Aside from the metaphysical axiom that good cannot exist without bad, it is dangerous to airbrush out the blemishes.

Politicians are the last class of people who should have their blemishes re-touched, and they are not semi-religious figures to be worshipped.  Sure, they like the worship.  It turns the idea that they are mere representatives of the public will on its head; it gives them power and strength beyond that which they deserve.  And it is dangerous.  It is as dangerous to suggest that Mr. Obama should not be criticized as it was to suggest the same of Mr. Bush.  It is dangerous to heap adulation on a politician because they have already expressed an overactive will to power.  Yet we do it more and more.

Chris Floyd:

What would happen if we simply treated all of these greasy pole climbers as ordinary human beings — “poor, bare, forked animals” like the rest of us — instead of turning them into fantasy figures imbued with embodiment and magic and goodness? The only extraordinary thing about them — their craving for dominion over others — is the very thing that should most repulse us, and make us wary, not draw us to them with awe, loyalty and affection. In all else, they share our common imperfections. Why then not judge them by what they actually do — not by what they embody, not by how wiggly it makes us feel to surrender our minds and wills and judgments to a fantasy — and hold them accountable for their actions in the real world?

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~ by Lex on January 22, 2009.

5 Responses to “Poor, bare, forked animals…like the rest of us”

  1. Wanna read something really scary…

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/iainmartin/4295219/Gordon-Brown-brings-Britain-to-the-edge-of-bankruptcy.html

    In this gloom, the Prime Minister has but one slender hope: that somehow, by force of personality, the new President Obama engineers a rapid American recovery restoring global confidence, energising the markets and making us all forget this bad dream.

    Celebrity… shoot, he’s been assigned god status.

  2. Lex,

    Here’s a good article from a liberal I respect.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123249791178500439.html

    Jeff

  3. Jeff – I just read that article – thanks. I like Juan Williams too. He used to write for the Washington Post. Interesting that he provides comment to both NPR and Fox News – indeed a varied audience.

    I haven’t read any coverage yet, but I understand the press was a bit contentious at the first White House press briefing. I hadn’t realized the Obama machine had sold certain exclusive rights to ABC…

    off to a good start there.

  4. Both good articles. Britain looks to be in calamitous shape, and i read somewhere a prediction for the pound getting flushed in currency markets. Obama’s not going to save Brown, but my wonder is how close to the British situation we actually stand. It seems as though Obama’s betting the farm that the ball will land on red, he’ll be hard pressed if it doesn’t.

    The Williams article is excellent. Every politician should be judged on their actions, but they don’t want to be so judged. The celebrity status (particularly for presidents) really mucks up the idea of judging on action, especially when added to the partisan politics that forces people to pick a side and stick with it.

    Since the election of W.J. Clinton (at least), American politics has seemed more like a food fight than governing. I blame much of it on the perpetual campaign that dominates modern politics.

    Once upon a time, Republicans and Democrats actually intermingled in Washington. They played racquetball together or had mutual friends or whatever. So when it came time to do something that needed to be done they could call on their personal contacts…or at least discuss things like civil, rational adults. Those days are gone and it shows.

    Actions are no more than spin material: good or bad. Everyone’s entrenched and the battle lines are drawn. It’s as if conceding an opposing view point, god forbid agreeing with someone from across the aisle, is the worst sin in the world.

    I know that Obama wants to be post-partisan, but the only way he’s going to pull that off is if he gets the money out…and i don’t see that happening.

  5. Lex,

    My trader buddies in the UK are predicting the government has a 25% chance of going belly up. The pound sure got hammered, and I feel bad I missed the move, but the move was too risky for me. Since numbers like 1, 10, 100 in the market have a gravitational pull, one could assume the the pound might test $1.00.

    Jeff

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