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It looks like... like...

By Michael J. Smith on Friday January 4, 2008 08:39 PM

Parsing Barack triumphator:

In a 1200-word speech, he used the word 'change' six times -- once every 200 words, on average; like the tolling of a tinny, cracked bell. He said 'belief' or 'believe' five times. He said 'hope' eight times -- hey, it worked for old Bill. 'Mother' only appeared once, mercifully, and apple pie, in our weight-watching world, not at all.

I missed it. I could have used a slice of pie. Or perhaps a substantial slug of Scotch.

As with Barack's speech at the 2004 Dem convention -- the speech that launched his career -- people are in ecstasies. I can only wonder why. Barack's magic -- like Bill's -- simply doesn't touch me at all. I don't hear the music. I have no personal, empathic sense whatsoever how anybody could possibly see anything in either of these sentimental, platitudinous, pasteboard windbags.

I remember asking people back in '04, But what did Barack say? Nobody could remember. What they remembered was being inspired, uplifted. It was, I guess, some kind of a heartwarming, Frank Capra thing. (To tell the truth, Capra leaves me pretty cold too.)

Concretely, there are, maybe, two conclusions we can draw from Barack's Iowa victory:

1) A lot of people find Hillary so nauseating that they're looking for an un-Hillary. That's the good news, as far as it goes.

2) Barack's very blankness is the secret of his success. This is, of course, the bad news. His manner is so bland and unthreatening, his rhetoric so vacuous and unmeaning, that it's easy for people who want to believe to hear him saying whatever they need him to say. He's like a particularly multivalent and unsuggestive Rorschach blot -- you can see in it whatever you like: a bird, a bat, Jack Kennedy.

They used to say that you can't beat something with nothing, but perhaps that has changed. Perhaps Nothing is finally going to come into its own -- all the Somethings are so revolting that only Nothing has a prayer. Can we look forward to the Seinfeld presidency? It's about... Nothing!

There's another angle, though, and it has to do with the cognitive limitations of people addicted to the Democratic Party. They can't acknowledge, or haven't figured out, what they're really up against, so of course they are not dissatisfied with Barack for avoiding what they too would rather avoid, or perhaps have never even understood.

But they are dissatisfied with what actually is. So what do they want? Change! From what to what? O do not ask what is it!

And they want to believe! They want to believe because belief, you know, is quite a trip, but experience, that killjoy par excellence, is always trying to spoil the fun.

And there is Barack, whose admirably disciplined speechwriters have figured out that their 'umble job is simply to construct an unobtrusive syntactic armature on which to hang a half-dozen or so repetitions of the key, focus-group-positive words: Change. Belief. Hope.

If religion is the opiate of the masses, then the Democratic Party is the methadone of those who have learned to use a Web browser.

Comments (3)

Somehow, methinks the DP phenomenon these days has more to do with people who keep re-drinking their first beer. [Methadone implies punishing past (if not completely learned) lessons, doesn't it?]

But me also thinks you've hit what OB (not at all to be confused with the illustrious op) is: the Jackinator + 48. A blank party-saver whose certain je nais se quois is of the moment and can temporarily bind the teenyboppers to a sense that doing nothing is doing something about the pressing issue of the day (Civil Rights, Irack, fill in the blank).


Irack Obama?

Gridlock O-Mama, Madame Winfrey's second million little pieces

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