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Old 01-17-2009, 04:40 PM   #1
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Help me understand the infatuation with Obama

I just don't get it. Why does everyone gush over this guy? He's just a politician. I don't understand why everyone seems so infatuated with him. Help a conservative Canadian understand this. I've never seen a politician with so much public appeal.
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Old 01-17-2009, 04:46 PM   #2
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I agree with you in finding the public expectations over the top particularly in light of my view that he is the least experienced new President in many years (by one analysis, only two or three Presidents in history had less political experience before taking office), and one who has benefited from a truly remarkable set of circumstances in getting elected.
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:04 PM   #3
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I just don't get it. Why does everyone gush over this guy? He's just a politician. I don't understand why everyone seems so infatuated with him. Help a conservative Canadian understand this. I've never seen a politician with so much public appeal.
Because we Americans love celebrities.

(and it doesn't hurt if you're black and making history)
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:16 PM   #4
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I don't know if this has anything to do with your question or not, but I read this article this morning at breakfast, and then thought of it again when I saw this thread.

A narrative of racism and hope - Los Angeles Times


Quote:
But his oldest daughter -- Dora, now 55 and listening from the kitchen -- had it even harder, he said. She was the only black in her high school.

The teachers were the worst ones, against any integration. They jumped on her. The instructors would get up and start teaching this thing about the black people were happiest when they were slaves because slave owners took good care of them. Of course, she immediately would call the teachers: "That's not right."

"Well, how dare you!"

So she'd be sent out of the class. Each night that she came home she wanted to stop, to find someplace else. And I would spend each night talking to her, talking about "how important it is for you to continue what you are doing. You are the first black person to be down there, but you certainly won't be the last. And you have got to be strong."
Quote:
But there was no shouting this year as election night coverage reached its historical climax. A quiet fell over the room. Dunn had watched every campaign moment through the primaries, rooting for Obama, and now he felt as he often did after hearing a particular piece of classical music, Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8.

"It is almost as though I am on air," Dunn said, straining to explain the out-of-body reverie. "Mahler affects me that way. And I felt the same when I got the announcement that Obama had won. . . . I don't know what I was thinking, but I felt that I was off the ground.

" 'I am there,' " he remembered telling himself. "I am there. And I have witnessed this."

I think black Americans felt a joy that no white American can ever know.
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:29 PM   #5
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It may sound cheesy as hell, but he makes me feel hopeful. I truly believe that he makes Americans want to become better people, and in addition to his platform, I think it's a winning combination to help get us started in getting us out of this mess we're in.
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:31 PM   #6
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I don't get the "everyone's infatuated" thing. I don't see a lot of infatuation over Obama.

I guess after Bush having a likable guy in office can seem that way, but I don't get where you are coming from...

I see more silly infatuation for Palin then Obama, I mean she lost and people are still salivating over her.
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:41 PM   #7
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There are some theories that many whites were interested in voting for Obama because it would be historical to have a Black president and if he won there would be no argument that race prevents people from success.

There are others who feel that Bush is at fault for every problem during his tenure and just kicking him out would be an improvement.

There are some that feel that the world hates Bush and the war on terror so having a liberal in charge would give the feeling that "smart power" would be used instead. Of course the war is going to continue on and there may be some souring on the left if he doesn't quit the war ASAP.

In the end I think we have to wait until he is in power for a couple of years to see how people feel because the public is fickle and will turn on a dime if they don't like the results fairly or unfairly.
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by purpleoscar View Post
There are some theories that many whites were interested in voting for Obama because it would be historical to have a Black president and if he won there would be no argument that race prevents people from success.
Most of which were drummed up by white male conservatives that don't know shit...

I.E. Rush Limpaugh
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:01 PM   #9
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Let me preface this by stating that I'm a leftist Canadian, so my views are much more consistent with the Democratic party than with the Republicans in the first place. I didn't instantly fall under the Obama spell. In fact, during the primaries, I watched with a lot of interest, and I genuinely thought that either of the two Democratic contenders would make a fine president. If anything, I thought that Clinton would be more suited to overcoming the dirty tactics that are often used by the Republican party in general elections. I was more of an interested observer at that point, without really being invested in either candidate. I didn't care who won, as long as Bush was out. And although I can't say that I supported McCain, I thought that the US could do much worse than have him win the election. I had admired him in the past, before his asshattery became apparent during the campaign.

So, what do I like about Obama? And why do I think he's attractive to others, as well?

-as far as Democrats go, he is fairly left-leaning, which of course is a relative term as far as US politics vs the rest of the world goes, so, in that way, he matches well with my outlook.

-politics are very cyclical; in the past 50 years, the only time any party in the US has been in power for three consecutive terms is Reagan-Reagan-Bush Sr. So, even without Bush Jr being a divisive figure who turned out to have some of the worst polling numbers in history in his second term, it's fairly safe to say that almost any Democrat probably could have beat almost any Republican in this election. Americans were burned out with Republican rule, and needed a change. Obama became a symbol of that change.

On a more personal level, I started learning a lot more about him after the primaries. I read both his books, and paid more attention to him in the media. Some of my conclusions were:

-his humble upbringing is a lot more relatable to the average person than most of the elites who run for higher office

-he is a very intelligent and thoughtful person, and has made having an intellect an admirable quality once again. I believe that he will take a deliberate and analytical approach to problem solving, as opposed to the seemingly myopic view that the Bush administration took. Obama says that he welcomes dissent and opposing views, and this helps in considering all sides of a problem, and its potential solutions. Contrast this with the Bushies who were so entrenched in group-think that they could see no other viewpoint than their own, and this is very refreshing.

-his background is very well suited to the position. The McCain campaign co-opted the term "community organizer" during the campaign and attempted to mock it and make it into something laughable, but the truth of the matter is, that these people know how to get things done. In the trenches, effective community organizers work from a bottom-up perspective, they empower people, they're great listeners, they negotiate, and they get a lot done with very few resources available to them. This is evident in the way he built his campaign and support.

-in reading his books, I've come to the conclusion that I've never seen a politician before whose worldview matches my own so well. Honestly, his books make him seem much more left than he showed during the campaign. This leads me to believe that either he has 1) grown and changed his views (unlikely); or 2) he's pragmatic and realized that he would have to appear more centrist to get elected and is willing to appear this way, thinking that he can do greater good by choosing his battles wisely once he's elected than he could by holding firmly to his leftist beliefs and not being elected at all. So far he does appear to be taking a more centrist approach to leading. It'll be interesting to see if that remains throughout his presidency, or if he shifts to the left as his term(s) goes on.

-I believe that he has a genuine empathy toward people, unlike any president that's been seen since perhaps Clinton, and before that, I can't even think of anyone. He wants to uplift people and their circumstances, that seems to be his main goal. Lets face it, one doesn't get into community organizing for the glory, or for the money, because there's little of either in that field.

-his race obviously plays into this, as well. It's an historic achievement, to be the first minority elected as president. I would imagine this makes many Americans proud and happy to be a part of something so significant.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boosterjuice View Post
I just don't get it. Why does everyone gush over this guy? He's just a politician. I don't understand why everyone seems so infatuated with him. Help a conservative Canadian understand this. I've never seen a politician with so much public appeal.
It's kinda like asking why people gush over Bono. After all he's just a singer. JFK was also just a politician and they gushed over him too. It's a little thing called charisma. That's part of it any way. To be honest, though, I find the conservatives less able to be objective about Obama than liberals. Granted there are the Obamaniacs, and one shouldn't take them seriously, but I find the dearth of thoughtful reflection and critcism on the right of Obama unfortunate. Most of the criticism I hear along the lines of your carping. "He's charismatic therefore he must be a terrible leader" is just kinda nonsense. So I guess it falls to those of us who supported Obama but are not gushing over him to provide some semblance of balanced commentary on the man.

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Originally Posted by financeguy View Post
I agree with you in finding the public expectations over the top .
Agreed. There will be backlash.

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Originally Posted by Bluer White View Post
Because we Americans love celebrities.
This begs the question. Boosterjuice want's to know WHY he's a celebrity in the first place. Now, if it was Denzel Washington that had won the election, well then your argument would hold water.

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Originally Posted by martha View Post
I

I think black Americans felt a joy that no white American can ever know.
This is true. A lot of my excitement is simply at seeing this remarkable milestone come to pass. But I'll let you in on a little secret, I'm betting many African Americans are at the same time that they are joyful, are A) worried about his safety. B) worried that he will be anything short of a perfect president. It's long been known among African Americans thantwhen a black man enters prominence in whatever field he has to to be flawless, because the allowance for failure is much smaller for him. A friend and I have joked that if he does anything "wrong" you'll have white folks across the country nodding their heads and saying "See now--I knew it, those colored folks need to stick to the basketball and the singing and the dancing, and leave the leading of the country to us."

I'm happy, but there's an undercurrent of anxiety. I bet I'm not alone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by purpleoscar View Post
There are some theories that many whites were interested in voting for Obama because it would be historical to have a Black president and if he won there would be no argument that race prevents people from success.
See this kind of reasoning implies that White Americans organize and act in sync, just as is often implied about Black Americans. Did all the white voters for Obama get together and have some kind of meeting? Nonsense.



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Originally Posted by purpleoscar View Post
In the end I think we have to wait until he is in power for a couple of years to see how people feel because the public is fickle and will turn on a dime if they don't like the results fairly or unfairly.
This, however, is true.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:21 PM   #11
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Because this is America. We just need something to drool over until we've found something else to drool over. We overkill things so much burning them with your spotlights until they've fried due to the heat. I like Obama, but I am not crazy about him and nor do I suddenly start believing that "YES FINALLY WE ARE SAVED". I will judge Obama and I will judge him harshly. All the promises he has made I will look for them when he takes office. I'm not one of those who believes that now that we have Obama in office everything will be alright. Some of US policies will remain stagnant such as its well incredulous friendliness with Israel. I mean.. why not be friendly with Zimbabwe or Estonia? why Israel? we be superfriendly to them? things like that will never change.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by VintagePunk View Post
et me preface this by stating that I'm a leftist Canadian, so my views are much more consistent with the Democratic party than with the Republicans in the first place. I didn't instantly fall under the Obama spell. In fact, during the primaries, I watched with a lot of interest, and I genuinely thought that either of the two Democratic contenders would make a fine president. If anything, I thought that Clinton would be more suited to overcoming the dirty tactics that are often used by the Republican party in general elections. I was more of an interested observer at that point, without really being invested in either candidate. I didn't care who won, as long as Bush was out. And although I can't say that I supported McCain, I thought that the US could do much worse than have him win the election. I had admired him in the past, before his asshattery became apparent during the campaign.

So, what do I like about Obama? And why do I think he's attractive to others, as well?

-as far as Democrats go, he is fairly left-leaning, which of course is a relative term as far as US politics vs the rest of the world goes, so, in that way, he matches well with my outlook.

-politics are very cyclical; in the past 50 years, the only time any party in the US has been in power for three consecutive terms is Reagan-Reagan-Bush Sr. So, even without Bush Jr being a divisive figure who turned out to have some of the worst polling numbers in history in his second term, it's fairly safe to say that almost any Democrat probably could have beat almost any Republican in this election. Americans were burned out with Republican rule, and needed a change. Obama became a symbol of that change.

On a more personal level, I started learning a lot more about him after the primaries. I read both his books, and paid more attention to him in the media. Some of my conclusions were:

-his humble upbringing is a lot more relatable to the average person than most of the elites who run for higher office

-he is a very intelligent and thoughtful person, and has made having an intellect an admirable quality once again. I believe that he will take a deliberate and analytical approach to problem solving, as opposed to the seemingly myopic view that the Bush administration took. Obama says that he welcomes dissent and opposing views, and this helps in considering all sides of a problem, and its potential solutions. Contrast this with the Bushies who were so entrenched in group-think that they could see no other viewpoint than their own, and this is very refreshing.

-his background is very well suited to the position. The McCain campaign co-opted the term "community organizer" during the campaign and attempted to mock it and make it into something laughable, but the truth of the matter is, that these people know how to get things done. In the trenches, effective community organizers work from a bottom-up perspective, they empower people, they're great listeners, they negotiate, and they get a lot done with very few resources available to them. This is evident in the way he built his campaign and support.

-in reading his books, I've come to the conclusion that I've never seen a politician before whose worldview matches my own so well. Honestly, his books make him seem much more left than he showed during the campaign. This leads me to believe that either he has 1) grown and changed his views (unlikely); or 2) he's pragmatic and realized that he would have to appear more centrist to get elected and is willing to appear this way, thinking that he can do greater good by choosing his battles wisely once he's elected than he could by holding firmly to his leftist beliefs and not being elected at all. So far he does appear to be taking a more centrist approach to leading. It'll be interesting to see if that remains throughout his presidency, or if he shifts to the left as his term(s) goes on.

-I believe that he has a genuine empathy toward people, unlike any president that's been seen since perhaps Clinton, and before that, I can't even think of anyone. He wants to uplift people and their circumstances, that seems to be his main goal. Lets face it, one doesn't get into community organizing for the glory, or for the money, because there's little of either in that field.

-his race obviously plays into this, as well. It's an historic achievement, to be the first minority elected as president. I would imagine this makes many Americans proud and happy to be a part of something so significant.
Like I said, it falls to the Obama supporters who aren't gushing. . .

My hunch is that he remains more centrist, which will probably disappoint his more left-leaning supporters. The reason is because as you said, he "welcomes dissent and opposing views, and this helps in considering all sides of a problem, and its potential solutions. " He doesn't strike me as an idealogue. But then I've only read portions of his books.

I'm not sure what that will portend for his presidency, because so far the right-wing pundits appear to be determined to critcize him no matter what he does, so centrist policies won't make them happy either.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:30 PM   #13
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Rush Limbaugh is not going anywhere whether you like it or not BVS. You will have to wait for him to get a heart attack instead. Of course I could defend Rush by pointing out how "historical" Obama's nomination was and how race was definately highlighted in media throughout the world but I'm just a white conservative that doesn't no shit.

Here's a Black conservative that talks about race relations regarding Obama's election in a 5 part series:

Shelby Steele on President-Elect Obama: Chapter 1 of 5 - Uncommon Knowledge on National Review Online

I would also add that many people liked Obama's idea of tax cuts (in many cases rebates for those who don't make enough to get taxed) and tax increases for the wealthy. Some people would vote for anyone that would cut them a cheque.

Another area to add which I think VintagePunk mentioned is that Obama looks intellectual to Bush. Bush is not a great orator and Obama is. Many people react to those who speak well. If you can't communicate your ideas to the public well then why would they be convinced of you? I would add Sarah Palin's portrayal by the media. She's good at speeches but when dealt with by a liberal media she gets nervous too easily. The media will often ask speculative questions in predicting the future or to get her to talk about economics against her beliefs. She tows the line on stimulus spending with other Republicans against her beliefs making her look scatterbrained. Eg. She talks about cutting spending to keep the budget balanced in Alaska but the prescription by Republicans federally mirrored what Keynesian economists desire which is the opposite.

Another point would be to look at how Clinton is viewed by many in the U.S. They look at the '90's as a golden period under Clinton and feel that Republicans = bad economics so they naturally want Democrats to return. Clinton got a lot of mileage by taking credit for going along with the Republican congress and Newt Gingrich on welfare reform and a balanced budget. Bush and Congress (Republican and Democrat) did not care about balanced budgets in the majority.

Lastly there are others who say how can anyone win against:

- Republican encumbancy
- Social conservatism on gay rights and abortion
- Two unpopular wars
- Hurricane Katrina
- Downcycle in the economy
- McCain's age etc.

All these currently are swimming in the minds of Republicans and they all have different prescriptions on what to do next. So far the House Republicans are thinking of moving to the right of Bush, and the Senate Republicans are wanting to move to the left of Bush.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:31 PM   #14
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Because this is America. We just need something to drool over until we've found something else to drool over. We overkill things so much burning them with your spotlights until they've fried due to the heat. I like Obama, but I am not crazy about him and nor do I suddenly start believing that "YES FINALLY WE ARE SAVED". I will judge Obama and I will judge him harshly. All the promises he has made I will look for them when he takes office. I'm not one of those who believes that now that we have Obama in office everything will be alright. Some of US policies will remain stagnant such as its well incredulous friendliness with Israel. I mean.. why not be friendly with Zimbabwe or Estonia? why Israel? we be superfriendly to them? things like that will never change.
I find comments like this idiotic, frankly, and sort of insulting. Maybe you need something to drool over, but don't speak for me or anyone else with a brain in their head. And the US is "friendly" with many countries, obviously. And all Presidents are judged harshly, or at least should be.

Obama's appeal, for me, boils down to the fact that he's a rarity when it comes to high-level American politics: An intellectual. He's just a bright and curious person.

If I worked with him, I do not think that I'd be "infatuated" as the thread title suggests....but, after 8 years of having a myopic cowboy at the helm, this is more or less a 180 degree shift and so I found myself deeply happy, proud, satisfied and relieved when he won the nomination.

Obama offers, and represents, hope. Will he live up to expectations? I sure hope so, but I have no idea, nor does anyone else. I certainly don't know how things can get any worse.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:37 PM   #15
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I agree with you in finding the public expectations over the top
I think this is exagerated quite a bit... Mainly by the right, they are the ones calling him messiah, and saying that SO many people expect the world to change the day he gets into office.

I think the majority understand that there will be no major overnight changes.

It's like saying all pro-life conservatives really thought Bush was going to end abortion. The crazy fringe may have thought this but the rest had some grip on reality.
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