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.