Friday, August 29, 2008

Psychoanalyzing the Great Obama: Messiah or Empty Suit?

Messiah or Macbeth?

By Robert Stein, Ph.D.

Messiah or empty suit? Rarely do politicians exclusively fit into one of these categories. In many respects, Barack Obama is unlike any recent American presidential candidate. Aside from his obvious mixed racial ancestry, one has to return to the early days of the republic to find someone with so varied an early developmental history in non-traditional American settings. Yet, his chaotic childhood is quite similar to that of Bill Clinton. Both lost fathers, both were very close to their mothers and both had step-fathers who were less than stellar father substitutes. Both were academic overachievers and both have an ability to connect with people.

But whereas Clinton had a relatively stable geographic residence, Obama lacked that until later in his childhood. Whereas Clinton’s identity as a white southerner was incontrovertible, Obama was essentially a black face in a white home. His mother’s frequent travels, had a profound impact on the development of his identity and contributed to his chameleon-like belief system.

Obama, lacks a solid internal figure of both his father and mother. Although he speaks glowingly of his mother, as with many children with absent parents, they tend to hold idealized images which are out of sync with reality. Lacking internal parent images (he admits his conflicted feelings for his grandparents[1]), he relies on others to firm up his own identity. Despite a commitment to radical leftist ideas from early adulthood, he has easily jettisoned the more obvious external trappings when his candidacy became viable.

Charles Steele Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference lamented that Obama lacked “slave blood” early in the campaign. This ironic twist highlighted initial opposition by the African-American establishment. If elected, Obama will owe much to the near unanimous support of the American black community. Yet, his early childhood and adolescent environment bears little resemblance to those of multi-generational inner-city African-Americans. Although his commitment to leftist causes protected him from being called an oreo, it might be more appropriate to describe Obama as “cookies & cream” - mostly white, with chunks of black tossed in.

In his writings, he yearns for a link to his father’s African ancestry, a link he will never achieve. In fact both his African and African-American identities have been painstakingly constructed and emerged out of his adolescent rebellion against a white grandfather who he admits didn’t understand him[2]. As an impressionable young man still searching for a nurturing father substitute, he began attending Rev. Wright’s church with its leftist Liberation Theology. For 20 years, Wright participated in all of Obama’s important family events. He even provided the inspiration for Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope”. In “Dreams From my Father” he quotes Wright’s statement “white folks greed runs a world in need[3]”. Ironically he cannot exclude himself from that condemnation. If not for his marriage to a genuine African-American he would have difficulty claiming to be one.

This conflict goes to the heart of his identity confusion reflected in the inexorable belief that he, rather than the policies he advocates or the actions he takes, is “the bridge” between black and white. Yet bridges, suspended as they are between two summits, cannot claim firm allegiance to either side, while constantly in danger of collapsing into the gulf they span. They are always alone.

Those of us more concerned with the substance of Obama’s positions than the romance of his quest, are inevitably disappointed by his speeches. It is unlikely this will change. On the one hand, Obama knows his radical views are not held by a majority of American voters, so he dare not explicitly state them. On the other, he is reluctant to firmly lock himself into a position, because ultimately he isn’t entirely sure what he truly believes.

This is an essential component of Obama’s repeated attempts to lecture from both sides of an issue. Being far more polished and poetic than John Kerry, he never uses such oxymorons as, “I voted for it, before I voted against it.[4] He will, as he did in his acceptance speech, advocate 2nd Amendment gun rights, while simultaneously emphasizing the need for gun control[5] or endorsing a death penalty moratorium while criticizing the Supreme Court ruling barring the death penalty for child rapists[6].

All of this contributes to an amazing tone-deafness, to which his true believers are blind. Being himself the “bridge” and the “channel” by which racial harmony will appear, he sees himself as exempt from the usual rules. Accused of being a “rock star”, he simply dismisses the charge while giving his convention speech in a rock star venue, with the trappings of a Greek temple.
Accused of lacking substance in his proposals, he gives an acceptance speech high on drama, high on visual effects, high on image and short on specifics, while decrying his opponent for daring to challenge him on being short of specifics.

Predicting people’s behavior is a difficult proposition even with an established prior history of conduct. Obama’s responses have to give even the most seasoned observer pause as to how he will react in the meat grinder of the presidency. Politician’s can be notoriously sociopathic and superficial. But in Obama’s case he appears to lack some of the more protective features associated with being calculating.

The outcome of close elections often hinges on intangibles and external events. Obama may win. However, once in office, he will initially be a president who is repeatedly outmaneuvered by both political allies and opponents. After all, “the devil is in the details”. But, given his lack of an underlying identity and the centrality of a belief in himself as icon, there is no way to predict what final form his mission will take. It might be quite a surprise to even his most ardent supporters.


Obama God! Democrats build a temple for Barack

By Peter Mckay In Denver

Times UK

29th August 2008

Barack Obama was mocked in the American press yesterday for making the most important speech of his life on a set decked out like an ancient temple.

Finally nominated as the first black candidate for the U.S. presidency, he moved the Democratic Party Convention from the conference hall to an 80,000-seater football stadium for his landmark address.

His challenge was to turn his trademark soaring rhetoric into simple ideas to improve the lives of hard-pressed American families. But the Greek pillars of his backdrop prompted ridicule before he stood up to speak early today.

The New York Post portrayed him mocked up in the style of Frankie Howerd's toga-clad TV romp Up Pompeii!, threatening to tip this historic moment into bathos - the Greek term for dignity descending into farce.

And rival John McCain's camp was quick to make more fun of him. Republican spokesman Danny Daz called the set - designed by Britney Spears's concert team - 'the Temple of Obama' and observed sarcastically: 'It's only appropriate that Barack Obama would descend from the Heavens and spend a little time with us mere mortals.' [YES WE CAN!]

Held at Denver's Invesco Field stadium at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos, the extravagant event before a full audience and tens of millions of TV viewers was also to feature performances by Stevie Wonder and Sheryl Crow.

American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson was to sing the national anthem.

Democrats wondering if the kitsch setting wasn't a mistake are comforted by the thought that John F Kennedy's nomination acceptance event was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and it too was ridiculed.

Party officials fearing what Americans might think of 'Obamapolis' say privately that it was dreamed up before his recent 'rock star' visit to Berlin, where he drew a crowd of 200,000 - and Republican criticism for being out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Had they anticipated that, the affair in Colorado would have been more low-key.

McCain's set next week in St Paul, Minnesota, is stark by comparison: He'll speak before a giant stars and stripes.

But for Obama, the Greek columns had a twin appeal: his speech came 45 years to the day since civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr's historic 'I have a dream' address at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, which also boasts Greek pillars. And Lincoln is America's favourite president - especially for blacks, whom he released from slavery.

With Americans proving resistant to Obama's appeal, his task was to pull off a speech with the same historic impact as Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, while addressing the 'kitchen table' concerns that voters are worrying about.

Obama seeks to stand up for what are called the 'middle classes' - what in Britain we would call the hard-working poor. He promises to turn the economy around and make the nation safer.
But his grandiose style lends itself to accusations of hubris - the Greek word for pride before a fall - and he was advised to keep things simple as he made an impassioned call for change. [YES WE CAN!]

However, Obama also had to top Bill Clinton's barnstorming performance on Wednesday night.
The former president, who had described Obama privately as 'a roll of the dice' as a presidential prospect, now oozed warmth for Barack - far more so than wife Hillary the night before.


Obama Speech Stage Resembles Ancient Greek Temple

ABC News

August 26, 2008

DENVER (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's big speech on Thursday night will be delivered from an elaborate columned stage resembling a miniature Greek temple.




"[Greek] Patron god of the Arts, the gift of prophecy and also connected with light (which in Greek also can be translated illumination). ['THE ONE'] He was born on the island Delos by Leto, a Titan's daughter, and Zeus. The island was to be the most sacred of islands, and ruins of many temples can still be seen there. His sister was Artemis, the goddess of hunting and protecter of young women.

After he killed the huge snake Python [HILLARY CLINTON] in Delphi by the mountains Parnassus, the site was dedicated to him. There, the Omphalos, the navel, stood - a point believed by the ancient Greeks to be the centre of the earth. [DENVER MILE HIGH STADIUM] His oracle there was a place many people, commonmen and rulers, came to consult the priestess, Pythia, [MICHELLE OBAMA?] about their future."

"...In many ways, Apollo personified the perfect man according to ancient Greek standards: he would entertain the other gods by playing the lyre, and he was also a brilliant archer and runner, considered to be the first winner at the Olympic Games. He protected young men, was a god of agriculture and also was a healer. He was also thought to be the most beautiful of gods."

"...Apollo can easily be considered one of the most important gods in Greek mythology. Seven was Apollos holy number, and he was connected to the calendar. The tripod was one of his symbols, and he was often referred to as Phoibos = the cleanser."