So now it seems that an Alabama county will from this day forward mark the second Monday in November as Barack Obama Day. This outpouring of adoration goes well with the new Obama Elementary School, possible Obama-named schools in Ohio and Washington, streets in Nigeria and Spain, and get this: a mountain in Antigua. That’s right: a mountain!
In the mean time, pundits and talking heads are having an intense discussion on whether Obama is more like JFK, FDR, or Abraham Lincoln. They wonder if his Cabinet picks are simply brilliant or works of sheer political genius, and wax poetic on his intelligence and deep humanity.
All of this for a man whose sole accomplishment has thus far been to win an election.
An election in which he won over the electorate by one more percentage point than George W. Bush in 2004. For this, he is marked a great unifier and a transformational figure. As America’s first black President, he is no doubt due a level of deference, but this outpouring of near ecstasy goes well beyond that. What we are witnessing is the near sainthood of a man who has yet to sign a single bill into law.
It obviously irks those who didn’t vote for him, but it should embarass even those who did.
I implore you to consider that as of yet, Obama has enacted no great change upon this planet. His Cabinet and advisory picks thus far simply indicate a inexperienced centrist-triangulation trying to be Clinton’s third term. It may be, as some label, “competent,” but by no means is it a transfiguration of American politics.
And yet, the canonization continues. It should be troubling, because it gives a fledgling administration a mirage of invincibility, an image that it can do wrong, that it is endowed with Holy Mantle of History, that any missteps will be forgiven and any opposition is at best misguided and at worst ignorant and worthy of scorn. No President, not even Reagan, not even Lincoln or Washington, has assumed office with such assumptions to shield him.
Obama, we must remember, is just a politician, albeit a momentarily successful one. But more importantly, we must remember, he is not a “figure” …. he is a man.