Reality of Obama's failure

The Five Stages of Liberal Grief for Obama

By Daniel Greenfield
Thursday, October 21, 2010

There are five stages in the grieving process from Denial to Acceptance. American liberals are now moving through their own five stages of dealing with the decline and fall of the myth of Obama. The last time they had invested this much in a politician was the Kennedy Administration, yet there is no assassin’s bullet to explain the fall of Camelot for them here. Instead they have to come to terms with the reality of Obama’s failure.

And this is what their five stages look like.

1. Denial
Obama is the Messiah. He is perfect and can do no wrong. He will usher in a new era, make conservatives and Republicans irrelevant, and assemble the unstoppable machinery of a socialist state that will care for everyone. Progressive legislation will be instantly passed and implemented without delay. The Iraq War will just vanish. All the other wars will too. The world will love Obama, and so will America. The oceans will stop rising and even the most radical anti-war activists will learn to love their country again.

2. Anger
The damn wingnuts are obstructing Obama! Why do we even allow opposition parties? They’re all violent and dangerous bigots. We should put them in jail before they do something. The whole teabagging movement is a bunch of fat Wal-Mart shoppers funded by a vast right wing conspiracy! We are going to roll right over them and nothing is going to stop us! Under Obama’s leadership we’re going to smash the right. We’re going to pass laws, send Limbaugh to jail or give him a heart attack! See Rachel Maddow’s latest tweet. Olbermann is right. We have to take the fight to them! Under Obama’s leadership, we’ll win!!!

3. Bargaining
Obama is a bit weak, but when he sees we’re behind him, that will change. Okay so we might lose some Senate seats. The public is stupid. They don’t appreciate Obama. He’s just too good for America. They keep talking about jobs, when Obama is giving them green jobs, which are much better than regular jobs, because the planet likes them better. A single green job is worth a 1000 of their stupid old redneck jobs. But the natives just don’t get it. So we’ll lose some congressmen. Most of the ones we’ll lose are conservative Democrats anyway. We don’t need them. The party will be purified. Of course we’ll probably have to make some bipartisan coalitions with liberal Republicans, but the important thing is we’re still moving forward.

4. Depression
Where did we go wrong? Obama was a great candidate, but now he’s letting the right wing walk all over him. He couldn’t get much done even with a supermajority. And it’s going to be even worse now. The war is dragging on, the economy is terrible and everyone hates us! Why can’t Obama do what Olbermann and Paul Krugman are telling him to do? The netroots raised all that money for him, and now he’s just ignoring us. Are all politicians just liars and crooks who work for the military-industrial complex? Is there no hope even for a half-black man who references Jimmy Hendrix? Are we just doomed to be slaves in the belly of a vast corporation, like the one my dad wanted to me to work for, even though I kept telling him that my degree is in Media Philosophy?

5. Acceptance
Obama lied to me. He lied to all of us. He didn’t really care about any of the things, he said he cared about. I just feel so used. We’ll never get any real reform in this country because everything is in the hands of the big corporations. Maybe Hillary would have been better? Or what about John Edwards, he had great hair and solid progressive credentials, and then we dumped him for a half-black man who kept telling us everything would be alright if we just believed in him. John, come back! We still love you. I don’t care how many illegitimate babies you made! Oh to hell with this. I hate politics. I’m erasing my DailyKos diary and going backpacking in the Andes.

Coming out of a cocoon of propaganda isn’t easy. And those most affected by it are not the rank and file, who have enough contact with the real world to figure out that things are going south, long before the loyalist cadres do. The average Russian knew the Soviet Union was impoverished long before the mid-level party members who thought that things were great, because their lifestyle was above that of the average worker. The average German soldier knew the war was lost, because his battalion kept retreating. All the while the Nazi elite were still listening to Hitler promise that the war would be won with superweapons.

Leader-worship is one of the more devastating propaganda cocoons because it teaches faith in a man, raising him up to a superhuman stature. Just believe is the message. Bypass the rational parts of the brain and let the madness of the crowd make you feel uplifted. Experience the sense that history is being by you in this moment. Stop thinking and start worshiping.

But once people stop thinking, it becomes very hard to start again. Reason is a choice. Entire cultures remain hopelessly backward because they devalue thinking. Because of that they cannot do something as simple as recognize contradictory information. If you tell them two mutually incompatible facts, they will not recognize them as such. America has not gotten that bad just yet, but it’s no thanks to the people on top, who would very much like to see all Americans reduced to that intellectually vegetative state.

That is why politicians strive to convince people to believe in them, rather than to listen to them. Ideas and arguments can be rebutted, but there is no rebuttal to faith. The great trick of charismatic figures, real or unreal, is to bypass minds and go directly for souls. Rather than winning the battle of ideas, they convince their listeners to emotionally invest in them, in order to form a relationship with them. And once there is an emotional investment in a politician, contradictory information will be emotionally repulsed, rather than rationally debated.

Obama’s success lay in convincing people to make that identification. And an emotional identification can only be broken through an emotional reaction. Which of course leads to feelings of betrayal, anger and guilt. Naturally his best successes were with lonely and emotionally vulnerable groups, twenty-somethings lacking stable bonds and single women. Functioning in the role of a celebrity, he created a parasitic “I’m in the spotlight, and you’re out there supporting me