Living the Dream Vicariously

February 25, 2008


This was inevitable, wasn't it? In an age of celebrity worship, we were bound to have a presidential candidate who's long on charisma and short on substance and, due to our pop-culture-saturated society, is wildly popular because of it.

After all, for celebrity worshippers, what's the difference between a marginally talented Jennifer Lopez splashing the headlines with her new twins, and Barack Obama delivering yet another substance-less speech about hope and change? Emotion trumps logic and reason in both situations. The question is, why do so many people buy into this starry-eyed view of people who are not all that extraordinary except for how they look and emote on the screen?

To sense the destructive influence of the celebrity culture, one need look no further than our first celebrity president-Bill Clinton. More than his so-called designation as the country's "first black president," Clinton's celebrity was largely, along with Republican missteps, what bought him his get out of jail free card during his impeachment. The point is, the celebrity can screw up time and time again and there is no bottom to his or her admirers' well of forgiveness. For a president in particular, this can be downright dangerous to the country.

Obamamania has effectively masked his ultra-liberal positions on issues across the board. Yes we can-what? Raise taxes? Provide benefits for illegal aliens and embryonic stem cell research? Yes, we can do a lot-the question is whether we want to do what Obama wants.

John F. Kennedy was young and charismatic too, but he at least had some substance to back that up. Back then, most people still believed in a semblance of personal responsibility and working hard to make your dreams come true. The Kennedy-Camelot image had more to do with a dream of what we as a nation could be; Obamamania is more about people living out their individual hopes and dreams through one man.

The danger with the success of the Obama candidacy is that his cult of personality may blind voters long enough to propel him into the White House in January 2009. After that, we could be subject to a major case of buyer's remorse.


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