Worshipping The President

Glenn Greenwald:

It’s certainly true that one has no difficulty finding cult-like liberal veneration for Obama – those who invoke Bible-like “he’s-a-master-of-11-dimensional-chess” clichés to justify whatever he does (the Lord works in mysterious ways but even when we don’t understand what He does, we Trust that He is Supremely Good and more Wise than us and knows best); who declare, in Bush-like “with-me-or-against-me” fashion, all critics of Obama to be the Enemy; who pay homage to Kim Jong Il-like imagery such as this and this; who believe that “trust” — a sentiment appropriate for family and friends but not political leaders — should be vested in Obama and thus negate any concerns over how he exercises power.

I like and respect Glenn a lot. At the same time, I’ve also written occasionally about the imagery linked from the second “this” above. So I feel compelled to reply to Glenn’s somewhat unfair shaming of people who, for now, support the president. I think he’s missing some important factors here — major differences between Bush-worship and Obama-worship.

First, some of the God-like Obama adulation comes from segments of society that understandably and quite accurately see his presidency as the beginning of the end of centuries of oppression. No matter what our degree of progressive intellectual honesty might be, we have to acknowledge that to many Americans, President Obama is a figure who isn’t just a politician — he’s a symbol of racial and social achievement. Furthermore, fairly or not, he’s being held up as a necessary and iconic role model for an entire generation of Americans, especially but not exclusively young African American men. This isn’t a bad thing. And you know what? When it comes to this aspect of the Obama presidency, progressive blogging and activism be damned.

Secondly, for my own part, I’m proud of this president. I don’t worship him, nor am I a disciple in any way shape or form. And I have, in fact, disagreed with several of his decisions, most recently his Treasury secretary’s bank rescue plan. But after eight years of being ashamed of the president, and after two years of working every day to elect this president, I’ve earned a few months of pride in this victory, pride in our candidate and satisfaction in knowing that the current president is, in many ways, worthy of representing you and me on the world stage.

I hasten to add that my support for the president isn’t limitless. Nor has my support been consistent or unconditional, even this early. I suspect this is the case with many of us on the fringes of the blogotubes. So don’t panic, Glenn.

That said, there’s a chance that the Colbert maxim: “Reality Has A Well Known Liberal Bias” might also apply to President Obama. He might actually do a terrific job and, so, reality might dictate that we say now and then, “Hey! President Obama is doing a terrific job.” I would argue that opposing the president solely for the sake of not looking like a sycophant — out of some reputation for hipster progressive cred — is equally as dishonest as blindly worshipping him.

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