Monday, July 28, 2008


“While fear is dangerous, fear can also concentrate the mind and lead citizens to reengage.”
-Samantha Power, from the introduction to Hanna Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism

Saturday, July 26, 2008

McCain's Youth and Obama as Mussolini

A good clip from Dan Abrams show, which I don't normally watch.

The Fox News footage of McCain is an amusing point. The second part is what really interests me. The meme of Obama as cult leader or fascist or his supporters as irrational is something I've written on (I currently have a paper in the works on the subject). In this we see the point repeated, laying out the double-edged sword of, to use Hoffer's term, the "religiofication" of the political. Support for Obama is very enthusiastic, polls show his supporters are significantly more excited than McCain's (see here and here). At times passion for a political figure can turn to zeal; emotion clouds judgment (see Reagan lovers).

As Walter Lippmann points out, there is a thin line between idolatry and demonizing. Lippmann argues in Public Opinion that the processes of demonizing and lionizing are in fact one and the same. And this is my final premise; media re-presentations of Barack Obama have been used to simultaneously deify him and make him appear dangerous. When the public sees Obama speak before a stadium full of enthusiastic supporters the RNC wants the public to see rabid/fascist/irrational Democrats. Whether you're creating a hero or a villain, it's the same process.