Wednesday, July 23, 2008

GOP Hypocrisy on Obama Worship

Cross posted at Daily Kos:

The last few days have seen former RNC eCampaign director, webmaster for Bush-Cheney '04, and former Giuliani '08 advisor Patrick Ruffini hitting Barack Obama hard on his campaigning initiatives overseas, particularly with regard to the Germany event and the flyers printed By Obama for America.

Obama Berlin Rally

In a recent post on the subject, Ruffini calls out Obama as arrogant, saying:

The sea of Germans drummed up by the Obama campaign will be used as props to tell us Americans how to vote, and the campaign isn't trying to pretend otherwise. That's breathtakingly arrogant, and par for the course for Barack Obama.

Ruffini's been hitting it hard via Twitter as well. A few of his more select comments (top to bottom, most recent to older):

The Obama for America Graphics Team really messed this up.

We still expect our politicians to act like statesmen when abroad, not candidates drumming up crowds at rallies. Jarring.

Anyone who thinks that the issue is a German flyer in Germany is a nitwit. The issue is electioneering on foreign soil and personality cult

Covering Flyergate by 9am: Politico, Instapundit, NRO, Hot Air... more to come

Obama for President of Earth:

Senators' trips abroad should be above this kind of electioneering

Obama German flyer story has legs... pickup by @benpolitico and @LaiStirland.

You see that I particularly highlighted the notion that Obama is a product of a personality cult. This is the official GOP meme to explain why their rotten, old, bitter, washed up, absent-minded, liar of a candidate is being throttled to death by an energized nation looking to a inspiring leader for something...anything. Hope is the keyword, but it's about vision.

The hypocrisy is absolutely stunning. Yes, Obama might border on arrogant, looking ahead to the presidency, if you choose to view it from that perspective. I don't even care about that too much. He went to listen. Arrogance manifested in this way is okay with me. Arrogance manifested in the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld model is not okay. Remember when Cheney replied, "So?" when asked about American's overwhelming opposition to the war. And they dare to frame Obama as arrogant? In fact, Ruffini tags his blog entry on the Obama flyer as 'arrogance.'

The cult of personality is really sensational to me. I'm getting more entertainment from the "Party of Reagan" accusing Democrats of being wrapped up in a cult of personality than at any other political angle out there. It's classic. Remember, this is the party that held a primary debate at the Reagan National Library in front of his airplance, with his wife in the front row. In order to be nominated by the GOP you have to douse your head in the bottled sweat of Ronald Reagan as a baptismal of prairie goodness.

To illustrate the hypocrisy and hilarity of this framing, I decided to go back and pull a few telling snippets from a 2004 WaPo piece by George Will on the legacy of Reagan.

In the uninterrupted flatness of the Midwest, where Reagan matured, the horizon beckons to those who would be travelers. He traveled far, had a grand time all the way, and his cheerfulness was contagious. It was said of Dwight Eisenhower -- another much-loved son of the prairie -- that his smile was his philosophy. That was true of Reagan, in this sense: He understood that when Americans have a happy stance toward life, confidence flows and good things happen. They raise families, crops, living standards and cultural values; they settle the land, make deserts bloom, destroy tyrannies.

Good actors, including political actors, do not deal in unrealities. Rather, they create realities that matter -- perceptions, aspirations, allegiances. Reagan in his presidential role made vivid the values, particularly hopefulness and friendliness, that give cohesion and dynamism to this continental nation.

...Reagan understood that rhetoric is central to democratic governance. It can fuse passion and persuasion, moving free people to freely choose what is noble.

He understood the axiom that people, especially Americans, with their Founders' creed and vast reservoirs of decency, more often need to be reminded than informed. And he understood the economy of leadership -- the need to husband the perishable claim a leader has on the attention of this big, boisterous country.

Typically, Will tries to will (no pun intended) his subject into the realm of epic heroism. He is eulogizing Reagan in an effort to make him Homer (not Simpson, that's GWB). The key points to illustrate are in bold. The notion that rhetoric fuses passion and persuasion to move free people to freely choose what is noble. Just words? Kind of throws the criticism about Obama's speech making back in their faces, huh?

The creation of realities that matter, including perceptions, aspirations, and allegiances borders closely on propaganda, but much of political rhetoric is propaganda. All speech is designed to construct. Quality speech can construct quality characteristics in a people, if done effectively. The worship of Reagan is a product of his mythical self, as much as anything else, since he really engaged in some wicked and diabolical things while he was in office. Whatever Obama does with his power, the worship that has begun now is a product of the same inspiration and leadership that the GOP felt for their hero. If they want to pile on Obama, they ought to look at themselves in the mirror a bit more.

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