The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Many of my Left-leaning friends are expressing concern that Barack Obama, after his triumphant European tour, has received no bump in the polls. In fact, his polling numbers have been slowly going down, and he is now virtually neck and neck with John McCain.

My friends attribute this to latent racism of people in “red states” and worry that that and that alone just might defeat Obama. They’re wrong overall, but just a little right on the fringes.

There’s no doubt that there will be a some voters who do not vote for Barack Obama because he is half African American, but the vast majority of people in the Center who oppose his candidacy, myself included, have other problems with the one-term Senator. One, I think, is that they sense his embrace of postmodern thinking.

I would guess that the vast majority of the electorate have no idea what the term “postmodern” means. Jonah Goldberg provides a reasonably concise definition and critique:
An explosive fad in the 1980s, postmodernism was and is an enormous intellectual hustle in which left-wing intellectuals take crowbars and pick axes to anything having to do with the civilizational Mount Rushmore of Dead White European Males.

"PoMos" hold that there is no such thing as capital-T "Truth." There are only lower-case "truths." Our traditional understandings of right and wrong, true and false, are really just ways for those Pernicious Pale Patriarchs to keep the Coalition of the Oppressed in their place. In the PoMo's telling, reality is "socially constructed." And so the PoMos seek to tear down everything that "privileges" the powerful over the powerless and to replace it with new truths more to their liking.

Hence the deep dishonesty of postmodernism. It claims to liberate society from fixed meanings and rigid categories, but it is invariably used to impose new ones, usually in the form of political correctness. We've all seen how adept the PC brigades are celebrating free speech, when it's for speech they like.

Barack Obama is an eloquent wordsmith in the postmodern sense. He defines words to mean what he wants them to mean and conveniently reinterprets his own words after the fact to mean something other that what they meant at the time. I believe the broad center of the electorate has begun to understand this and feels uncomfortable with it.

Goldberg addresses this when he states:
The Obama campaign has a postmodern feel to it because more than anything else, it seems to be about itself. Its relationship to reality is almost theoretical. Sure, the campaign has policy proposals, but they are props to advance the narrative of a grand movement existing in order to be a movement galvanized around the singular ideal of movement-ness. Obama's followers are, to borrow from David Hasselhoff — another American hugely popular in Germany — hooked on a feeling. "We are the ones we have been waiting for!" Well, of course you are.

In Berlin two weeks ago, Obama's speech was justified solely by the fact that he was giving it. He offered no policy and — not being a president — really had no reason to be there other than to tell people, essentially, "now is the moment." He informed the throbbing masses, bathing in his charisma the way hippies wallowed in the mud at Woodstock, that the greatest threat facing the world is the possibility we might allow "new walls to divide us from one another." Nuclear war? Feh. No, walls, walls are the danger. Of course, these new walls aren't real. Some might even say they're just words.

The question is whether the American people will elect Barack Obama based on words alone, because in terms of real legislative or executive accomplishments, his CV is very, very weak. Maybe that’s why the predicted bounce hasn’t yet happened, and just possibly, never will.