Bringing Obama Back to Earth

Dial back the religious language, everybody

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Barack Obama is a politician.  Likable and charismatic, yes, but still just a politician. He's already shown his comfort with compromising, switching policies -- and disappointing supporters.  In other words, he's like any other elected official.  He will undoubtedly have his share of political "wins" and "losses" and ultimately, he will be judged by the voters when it's time for his re-election three years hence. 

So, why must he be deified in the context of public discussion?  Yes, the right has mocked the left's worship of Obama for some time, with derisive references to him as "the Messiah." Indeed, Oprah Winfrey's referring to Obama as "The One" was seen by many conservatives as media/pop culture infatuation bordering on spiritual adoration. 

Alas, it's getting worse. Over the weekend, Newsweek's Evan Thomas asserted that Obama was "standing above the country. Above...the world...He's sort of God." Geez, wasn't former writer Richard Wolff supposed to be Newsweek's Obama fluffer? 

Meanwhile, at Monday's Republican House-Senate Dinner actor Jon Voight, serving as emcee, twice declared Obama a "false prophet."

 In fairness, Thomas isn't totally trying to throw himself at Obama's feet in worship. His analysis seems an attempt at being  descriptive of the president trying to set himself apart from the world's conflicts.  But even so, a journalist and author with a sense of history should measure his words more carefully.   

And, Jon Voight? When did he start hanging with the GOP elite? Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. If I'm not mistaken, this is a rare occasion when an older celebrity has become more overtly political after their offspring. Voight, estranged father of U.N. Ambassador Angelina Jolie has only recently emerged out of Hollywood's conservative closet.   

But, let's be clear, whether coming from supporters, opponents or the media, this sort of religious language to describe the president isn't just foolish. It's also potentially dangerous. Messiahs have no place in politics -- they produce passions that the political process can't contain.  Not surprisingly, messiahs can become martyrs, inspiring fanatics who believe them heretics as much as they do worshipers and hagiographers. 

President Obama is not "like God."  He's not a "false prophet." In fact, he's not a "prophet" at all. ("He's not the Messiah; he's a very naughty boy!"). He's a talented politician -- who has to bow before political reality, as he's found out even from members of his own party

A little perspective could do the political process some good. 

 Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.

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