If the Messiah Fails

In yesterday’s Times of London, Andrew Sullivan wrote:

Among the most enthusiastic Obama supporters, there are tinges of hero worship and aspirations beyond anything any human being can deliver. And the hostility born of dashed expectations is always the worst. People expecting a messiah will at some point be forced to realise they have merely elected a president.

He has it exactly wrong. Obama’s most devoted fans don’t expect anything of him. His simply being Barack Obama, appearing as he does, saying what he says, is all that’s required. As is the way with true delusional adoration, any move from sensation into quantifiable performance risks compromising the illusion. And any failing of the idol is blamed on the circumstances around him. When prophecy fails, true believers don’t examine their convictions–they tweak their perceptions of reality. We’ve already seen this in Obama’s case. When he flips on an issue–the surge, guns, abortion, missile defense, etc.–the story is not the he changed his position, but that we, the American public, had not been careful enough observers to see that the new position was the old position the whole time. And when a long-time associate is revealed as an unhinged radical, the story is not that Obama exercised bad judgment in befriending the person, but that “this is not the so-and-so I’ve always known.” The rightness of Obama is not falsifiable. He, like light, is consistent, you see. It’s space and time that must bend to accommodate the speed of his progress.

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If the Messiah Fails

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