Maybe the US hasn’t quite fallen into the “cult of personality” trap

I was heartened today to see that President Obama’s approval rate has dropped significantly.  That’s not just because I think Obama has been a lousy president, destroying the economy at home and substantially interfering with our relations and security abroad.  It’s also because it’s a healthy sign that Obama’s approval can drop.

We’ve often talked about the cult of personality the mainstream media built around Obama.  He was the “hope” and the “change”, he was the “magic negro”, and he was the politician whom photographers loved to capture with a halo image around his head:

Obama halo

This type of adulation for a politician — a “cult of personality” — is terribly dangerous.  It overrides democratic checks and balances, and leads to tyranny.  Scary stuff.

But here’s the good news, from a Weekly Standard article about Italian fascism in the 1930s and 1940s.  (The article is behind a pay wall, but you can currently get a 30-day free trial of the Weekly Standard, which I highly recommend. ).  Italian fascism has gone unexamined until recently because Italians, by overthrowing Mussolini, kept their own records (and hid them).  Now that the records are finally becoming open for analysis, they show that Italians strongly supported Mussolini, and that they did so long after his policies were shown to be disastrous.  This is normal for totalitarian regimes built around a demagogue:

Charismatic leaders are not immediately blamed for the failures of their regimes: “If Stalin only knew” was a commonplace during the worst years of the Soviet era. The ruling party is blamed—whether Communist or Fascist—as are underlings, but the supreme leader is long given a pass.

Thankfully, according to the latest polls, Obama is not getting a pass.  As long as the media kept a tight control on information, Obama got a pass because ordinary voters were ignorant about is failures.  Now that the dike has broken, though, revealing Obama’s many failures as a leader at home and abroad, Americans are turning on him.  If this had been a true cult of personality, his poll drops probably wouldn’t have happened.

I’m going to do something pretty outrageous for me here and recommend an HBO show.  VICE is an investigative reporting show.  It comes from a strong Leftist slant, but even Leftists have a hard time supporting North Korea (never mind that North Korea is the logical end point of personality-driven, socialist statism).  Anyway, VICE did an episode about Dennis Rodman’s visit to North Korea and it is fascinating.  You can see photos and clips here.  Obama’s tried to create a cult of personality, but he’s no Kim Jong Un, for which mercy we should all give thanks.

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  • Ron19

    Obama’s approval rating is still higher than, and his disapproval rating is lower than, McCain/Palin.
    If the electorate knew then (2008) what we conservatives know now, Obama would still be in his second term.

  • raymondjelli

    The cult of personality doesn’t simply go away with a leader. If the leader is seen as lacking then the party leadership simply creates another composite charismatic leader and finds someone to sell it as the front man.
    Barack Obama doesn’t exist. He has never done or said anything memorable in and of itself and when he is no longer president will simply be  a sack of skin in the form of a speaking tour telling audiences what they want to hear.
    He was the best package available for boilerplate Democratic machine BS/politics and I’m sure they can groom another (Hilary will just have to accept that she’s second hand goods in her beloved party).
    When the Democrats bring out another fresh face that can run against Bush and maybe even against Obama we’ll see to what extent we are now a cult personality nation.  Having seen all the hipster Dbags in Brooklyn I’m not very optimistic.
    (Actually I like a lot of  those hipster dbags because they mean well  but they are not as bright as they think they are. Which is sad because they are so easily used by old seedy machine politicians looking for graft.)


    Television viewing and the cult of personality: 
    I’ve never watched American Idol, it’s not my type of entertainment, but I’ve heard that viewership is down, no matter who sits on the panel of judges. I guess they never considered the obvious – the real judges are the viewers. Has Obama’s American Idol moment has gone the way of a lot of bad programming? I doubt it.  This administration more than any other has used the media apparatus and “1984” as a “How To” guidebook.
    Summer begins June 21 and just when you thought it was “safe to back into the water again” Nielson Sweep dates are June 27-July 24. Stay tuned…this crowd has at their disposal all the hacks that Hollywood has to offer at $25,000 a plate.


  • Ymarsakar

    Once power is accumulated, the opinion of the people no longer matter.
    See Cuba and Iran for two recent examples of revolutionary success.
    Ron, I consider Weapons of Mass Deception to be far more dangerous than what most people consider WMDs.

  • Ymarsakar

    The problem with America isn’t Obama. He’s just a symptom of AIDs and Cancer combined.
    Even if the US electorate somehow disliked him or hated him… what do you expect them to do about the Left’s power here?
    I expect people to do absolutely nothing (effective).