Wednesday, April 29, 2009

100 Days Of Obama Hype

A media rush to grade Obama is underway as the Messiah hits the magic 100 days with only a brave few unmasking his mistakes. Much of the media plays up the Special One's special place in history. But his Audacity of Hype has left a dangerous precedent, with a president personally more popular than his policies.

Presidents regard it as a pain but ever since Roosevelt, 100-days has been marked up but never picked over with such vigour and relish. 

Pundits are filling out report forms. The US blogosphere is awash with comment. The usual Obamabots are jumping in to defend Barry but it seems not in such force as during the frenzied election campaign.

The US media and bloggers have set out their stall. CNN will air a 'special', several hours long this week. Here the BBC has been a running an online diary staffed up to the hilt and full of the usual gushing, one-sided propaganda along with it's own biased report-card.

Anyone who still refuses to toe the line is often branded a rampant Republican. But what many still find difficult to reconcile is how can any liberal or leftie not support, worship and fawn over the Chosen One? 

The answer lies in the cult of personality. Obama swept to power on the back of a wave of popular admiration, stirring speeches and heady rhetoric. He talked the talk, walked the walk, captured the dreams and hopes, hearts and minds of many Americans - and captured their vote. 

But with the cult of personality comes dangerous evangelical admiration for your man who can do no wrong. Power can lead to smug arrogance. Doing what you think is right for no other reason than because you think you know it's right. We've had one here before. He was called Tony Blair. 

That pressure of personality over policies forced the incoming president to make ill-judged, hasty decisions for short-term political advantage, as Obama tried to assuage the baying crowds of adulating followers crying out for more.

To mark the 100 days millstone, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll shows three in four Americans feel Obama has the personal qualities a president should have. But when asked whether Obama agrees with the respondent on the issues, that number drops to 57 percent.

What the US public finds most controversial about Obama are his policies, much more than his personal qualities.

"Now that Obama is president, the number who agree with his views on the issues has gone down, while the number who say he has the right personal qualities has gone up," observed CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The sheer volume of initiatives for both domestic and foreign policy has been overwhelming. They've been picked over, picked on, selected and rejected ad nauseam. CNN's Julian E. Zelizer is among many with a near rational take to mark the milestone millstone. 

But in reality it can take years for the effects and consequences of policy decisions made now to hit home and abroad.

For a brief period, the president has enjoyed the clean slate of a honeymoon as Democrats push through their pet agenda, before the party political battles set in and the administration gets bogged down.

The fear and danger for the Democrats is that the Obama administration will push too far, too fast, getting the backs up of Congress and weakening the Party during midterm elections. 

Obama's mantra of “change” was just another election slogan and it's politics as usual in Washington. But it's left Americans and politicians polarised. For some he's a two-faced, ruthless, snake-oil salesman from the Windy City and the hype hurts. For others he's a god that can do no wrong. The Orange Party's views on that are decidedly atheist.

The president still thinks he's on the campaign trail and he's getting very boring. The final prize is already his but that heady feeling when you think you can do anything, say anything you like to get the vote still lingers and is wearing very thin. 

Only 100 days in office? It's difficult to keep track of the mistakes made along the way.

But those nice people over at the New York Post have done just that with their take on the two-faced mistakes of the boring teleprompter-in-chief's first 100 days in office.

The list just scratches the surface. Everyone has their own favourites but missing are the Orange Party's big and costly Obama mistakes: Escalating the war in Afghanistan and prolonging the war in Iraq (from 2010 to 2011).
No-one has the magic touch. Not even the new Messiah and certainly not after a mere 100 days. What is key is what happens in the second and third 100 days, if he lasts that long, as the election shine fades and the politics over the administration's agenda really kick-in and harden.

Can Obama sustain the momentum as did Roosevelt, ending with his 1936 election landslide, or will he do a Carter and see his political strength from these early days, sap away?
For many, Obama remains just as much of a mystery and as Zeilzer says his mission has been graded "incomplete." After 100 heady days of spin and hype, the Orange Party still holds the view expressed here on November 5, 2008: God Bless America - And God Help Her Now

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