"The One"

Here’s a meme that’s interesting to me, because it seems so odd. I don’t know a single Democrat who ever subscribed to Obama-worship, yet it’s a standard for tighty-wrighteys to harp on, with a maximum of froth, sneering, mockery, snottiness, just as if it there were a shred of substance to it. Well, I guess there is a shred: Democrats were generally supportive of his candidacy and (except for a few late Hillary-boosters) seemed to accept him as their standard-bearer throughout the 2008 campaign. IOW, there was little dissention in the ranks and he was elected with a minimum of Democratic in-fighting past the summer of 2008. But where does the protracted “The One” rhetoric from our tighty-wrightey brethren come? Jealousy? A lack of substantial policy disagreement? Racism? Desperation? Someone 'splain this to me.

The Republican party has adopted a tactic over the last ten years or so to attempt to make opponents’ greatest strengths their greatest weaknesses. For example, John Kerry was indeed a decorated sailor, but that was turned against him with the whole Swiftboating thing.

More or less the same thing with Obama. He ran a very strong campaign and had very high popularity ratings with liberals and moderates, and even quite a few conservatives admired the guy despite disagreements – his approval rating was what, closing in on like 75 percent at the time of his inauguration. So, in order to attack the guy, Republican spinmeisters started saying, “Well SURE everyone likes the guy – everyone is a sucker!! U R all teh stupid!! Obama and seven out of ten Americans, sittin’ in a tree…”

I don’t think there’s that much more significance to it than that.

It’s the assumption that liberals are like conservatives and are fiercely dogmatic and tribal, supporting Obama because he’s on their side of the fence regardless of his actual policies or actions. Obama doesn’t get a fraction of the hero worship the rabid Right devote to Ronald Reagan, yet for some reason it’s the Left who have drunk the Messiah Kool-Aid.

Also on topic: I want to solicit a little more love for this post of mine.

It’s also a tactic of the right to take their own failings and accuse their opponents of it. They have complete, fervent, unquestioning commitment to a bunch of morons and sociopaths, so they accuse Dems of having the same blind fealty. The irony is that the Dems biggest weakness is endlessly harping on their own candidates and hamstringing themselves. Obama (like Clinton) can’t do anything without being rebuked by the VirginLeft.

I noticed this also and started a thread in GD about it to explore what was going on.

Why monikers, righties?

Basically, the people on the right who were seeking to label is as a non-issue or attribute some sort of false equivalence to actions of people on the left were unable to do so over the course of a 3 page discussion.

Name-calling, even when those names are falsely applied, seems to just be something people on the right embrace.

To be fair, people on the left do plenty of name calling. Bachmann has become synonymous with “crazy.”

But there’s some traction there. Calling Obama “The One” is based on a complete fiction, and one which requires a preposterous lack of reflection. Can you talk to Palin supporters and suppose Obama’s supporters are the faith-based followers?

It’s based entirely on the rallies where people were chanting and stuff, and the “hope and change” message. On the religious right, anyone who is popular that you don’t like must be from some cult–see Harry Potter, Pokemon, D&D, etc. And see Twilight for the opposite phenomenon, where they liked it, so it was okay, despite having the same problematic features of two of those.

I would even say that some people did think Obama was going to change the world, so, while it’s always been wrong, it was less wrong in the past.

Check out posts #65-68 in the “monikers” thread I linked to.

The Republicans define Obama worship as they see fit, the same way Democrats apply epithets against Republicans as they see fit. I saw some Democrats with unrealisticexpectations of Obama and some with wildly unrealistic expectations, but nothing I’d call worship.

Of course, most directly it comes from Oprah.

So it does come from somewhere. She said he was “the one” who could bring all Americans together, which is unrealistic but not, say, Mayan prophecy or a prediction that he’s the Messiah. If you looked hard enough you could probably find a comment like this about every major presidential candidate in the last couple of decades. Lots of people say their preferred candidate can do something like this.

It’s also worth noting that the whole “The One” thing happened in a year where most Democrats (and some independents) were very excited about the Democratic candidate and many Republicans were not excited about their candidate. So in other words, it was sour grapes to some extent.

Yeah, there were definitely some moments during the campaign that fed directly into these memes. College girls fainting, Oprah being Oprah, some of Obama’s phrasings (“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”, “This is when the seas stop rising…”). He built a lot of his campaign around large crowds of enthusiastic supporters.

It’s pretty natural for an opponent to attack that, or attempt to deflate it. It’s not that dissimilar from lefties attacking the populist stylings of Palin/Bachmann and calling them stupid - that “down-to-earth” “folksy” messaging is the entire basis of their appeal (at least to some people).

OMG! Stop the presses! A candidate won by getting a lot people to gather around at his rallies? Wow, no one ever has done that before, and I’m sure that those who attracted even moderate-sized crowds got all sorts of mockery for doing even that.

Thanks, marley, for sourcing “the one” talk to Oprah, though in context it’s a nothing sort of endorsement. Specifically, she seemed to be saying that he’s “the one” candidate who could unite us, not divide us. Now, where have I heard that before?..

I don’t believe any candidate had rallies of the size Obama did. I know I’ve never heard of a crowd anywhere near what we had in St. Louis for a presidential candidate. I also have never heard of a convention speech being held at a football stadium because the original venue was too small.

The large crowd of swooning supporters was a big deal, and it’s pretty natural to attack that. I don’t see anything odd about it at all. I’m not saying it’s a valid attack, just a natural one.

It wasn’t just Republicans who used that meme, Clinton did too. And as a couple posters have pointed out, it fit some Obama supporters pretty well. While I think most of us were on the “He’s not great but he’s sure better than the other guy” there were a few people who went completely batshit over him. I had a person stop speaking to me because I was insufficiently enthusiastic about him, and there were a couple of people on this very board who were delirious in their praise. “His only flaw is that he’s to good a man for us” is one thing somebody said. And of course their wax a lot of perfectly understandable excitement in the black community and among civil rights supporters in general over his candidacy.

That said, the way some conservatives use it is jaw droppingly juvenile.

The one I felt was most worthy of ridicule was Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s video where they and other celebrities pledged to “…be a servant to our president and all mankind.”

That’s just creepy, and indeed there was a bit share of criticism across the spectrum about this.

I’m going to defend the second one a bit here, partly just because I liked the language. But he did not say “this is when the seas stop rising.” What he said was this:

While it’s natural for an opponent to attack this, it’s also true that if you have people doing this kind of thing in support of your campaign, you build around it.

I can understand where some black supporters got excited about finally having one of their own as a candidate, but who (other than a racist) can’t sympathize with that feeling, even if they don’t agree politically. And I agree that Hilary did go too far in not denouncing “The One” talk coming from her supporters. So it seems legitimate, or at least understandable, via three sources:

  1. some (black?) supporters did go over the top, for understandable reasons

  2. Oprah, if we take her words out of context, did refer to him as “the One”

  3. some of the mockery began with Hillary, and the Pubbies just ran with that, having little else to criticize Obama for

Yup. One could add in that semi-creepy school-children thing as well.


And on preview, Marley, I actually kinda liked that part of the speech too (and know a number of non-partisans that really liked it), but it is pretty easy to twist into a “Obama thinks he can stop the seas from rising” moment.

Here is the McCain ad (web only, I think) from kinda late in the campaign that played up this angle: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/mccain-ad-mocks-obama-as-the-one/

When was that moment a war ended? I must have missed that moment.

The Republicans saw enormous amounts of people flocking to his rallies and wearing his shirts and all of those fancy red, white and blue “Hope” signs, and they wanted to figure out a way to embarrass people for going to the rallies, wearing the shirts, hanging the signs, etc.

Mocking people’s enthusiasm can be a pretty effective way to curb their enthusiasm.

Example: When I was a pre-teen, the Detroit Pistons (my team) beat the Lakers for the championship. I bought a shirt that said, in huge letters, “WE BEAT L.A.” I was walking down the street one day wearing it, and some older kid yelled out at me sarcastically, “We beat LA? Are you kidding me? What? Thanks for filling me in, buddy, I had no idea!” Sensitive lad that I was, that one asshole comment took the wind out of my sails, embarrassed me and I never wore that shirt again.

I think the Republicans hoped that mocking Obama supporters over their “hero worship”-- really nothing more than just enthusiasm over a dynamic and historic candidate-- would shame them into not being so enthusiastic.

I believe the technical answer is August 19, 2010.

Obviously, YMMV (as does mine).