The Limits of Celebrity

The popularity of Barack Obama is not an indicator of the triumph of “liberal,” socialist ideas. Those ideas, while discredited, win by default because nobody will stand up for any credible alternative, even though such alternatives exist.

Obama’s rise was the manifestation of the power of celebrity. Celebrity is nothing new in America, but it has never been so applied to a presidential candidate until now. Case in point: When you ask people what they like about Obama, they have no answer. You get kind of a glazed look or, at most, a statement to the effect, “He’s inspiring.”

But to be “inspired” implies to be inspired TO something. To what, exactly? To having nationalized health insurance, like Canada and Sweden? To pulling troops out of Iraq and doing nothing to fight Islamic terrorism? To downsizing the military? To raising taxes? None of these things sound very inspiring to me. Nor do I think they are particularly inspiring to most of the people who claim to love Obama. It’s all about emotion. It has nothing to do with reason.

I’m not frightened of Obama. In office, he can do a lot of damage. But so would Hillary Clinton or John McCain. George W. Bush, although largely reasonable when contrasted with Obama or Hillary, has done a tremendous amount of damage by appeasing Iran and North Korea and calling his/our terrorist enemies a “religion of peace.” He cut taxes but he did little else to help the economy, and he did much to expand already bankrupt socialist programs such as Medicare.

What really frightens me, or perhaps more accurately saddens me, is what people become when they “support” Obama. They only seem to care for his celebrity. In a way, this makes Obama less fearsome if he manages to win office. Celebrity wears off pretty quickly. As we go through 2009 and face reality with President Obama, as the economy tumbles further under the weight of increasing taxes, increasing spending and ever-more appeasement of terrorism, I don’t think he’s going to look like quite so much the celebrity to many of those who voted him in.

But I’m still troubled, deeply, by a society consisting of a majority who would elect a man solely for his celebrity, and his celebrity alone. I’m still waiting to see if it will really happen.