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Obama: Media idol or inspirational leader?

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: July 29, 2008 11:49 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2008 5:02 a.m.

This past Sunday, budding Signal cartoonist, Ryan Metlen penned a pithy ditty intending to mock the much ballyhooed and bemoaned "press worship" of Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

His cartoon simultaneously disparages three of the world's great religions, depicting a tall, upright Obama (looking too much like the personification of a Christian cross) standing before throngs of prostrated media types (looking too much like humble Muslims in prayer), under the title of "The Sacred Cow" (reading too much like a slam against Hinduism).

Despite Metlen's bull-in-a-china-shop swagger, he yet misses the very point of the issue he seeks to portray: "What is the driving force behind Barack Obama's energizing success?"

During the Bush/Rove years, faith was whored along with fear to prod voters to cower and comply.

Manipulation became a surrogate for leadership as Democrats were cast as godless America haters, and anyone loving God and fearing terrorists had better steer clear of those Democratic demons.

But today, the Democratic candidate Obama is an unabashed activist Christian representing an unabashed American success story. McCain himself is wishy-washy on God. The faith angle blown, Obama is cast as the not-to-be-trusted faith charmer - a pied piper to millions of dupes in the United States, perhaps to billions including the world at large.

That's the Right Stuff again. Shortcuts against reason, using faith and fear as the lubricant on the thought-slide steeply sloped to stupidity. So we hear moans and groans about Obama-God. About Obama-Messiah.

Obama is mocked as either the second coming of Jesus - or at least of Jack Kennedy. Either way, he's pictured by the right as conjuring up support with youthful politco-spiritual trickery. That he has some sort of Kenyan black magic spell on his millions of soft-headed followers - and that's what explains the (now global) phenomena.

What's missing from the right, to its genuine detriment, is an honest appraisal of America's and the world's genuine enthusiasm for Obama's message. The Obama phenomenon is an alloy of the country's deep need for change bonded to a real leader representing that change.

Obama enjoys such great popularity not because he's a hip black rock star or slick trickster but because he's the motivating, capable and charismatic voice and vessel of the already existent yearning for change.

"Obama" doesn't exist in a vacuum. Rather, Obamamania is as much about the public movement and the message we crave as it is the man himself. The chant at the rallies is, after all, "Yes, We Can!" - not "Yes, He Can."

In short, "It's the message, stupid."

So there's understandable excitement filling the world. It's been one hell of a discouraging seven years under Bush - and the entire world, from America to Germany, stands united in dislike, distrust and disdain for the Man of Little Ideas who yet disparages America.

Now is indeed a unique period in recent history, as 74 percent of Americans are aligned in opinion with Europe. Yes, a majority on both continents are united in desire for a new and more authentic American Values path.

Cough up a Freedom Fry if you will, but the desire for big-time change, at least outside our Santa Clarita conservative ant farm, is real and booming.

So the political field is ready and ripe for a charismatic leader like Obama. But let's not overplay the "charismatic" and underplay the "leader." Obama's appeal rests in his innate communicative powers and example of personal responsibility.

From humble roots to self-made scholar and genuine social activist, Obama speaks with hard-earned authority - an authority mirroring America's greatest ethics and ambitions.

The Man With The Message resonates with a population desperate for change in the direction he now leads and calls us to follow.

Jealous and jilted conservatives, from McCain himself to talking bobble heads, bemoan Obama's ability to inspire and motivate. Barack has already beaten the most feared political machine in our generation. He's drawing crowds close to 100,000 in America, and just last week, 200,000 in Germany.

Consider what happened: 200,000 Germans applauding and waving American flags - all coming out to listen to the rising American leader. That's change we can appreciate and believe in. It's nice to be respected again.

Leaders lead. They inspire, and their influence causes things to happen. It's intrinsic, as there's a certain alchemy to effective leadership.

Conservatives may bemoan, but Obama's got the leadership thing down, and his presence and message has already worked change. Some might say he's even "worked miracles."

Obama calls for open talks with our enemies, like Iran. Bush rails against him, calling him an appeaser.

Months pass, and now, the previously unmovable George Bush agrees to send high-level diplomats to Iran.

Obama calls for a withdrawal timetable from Iraq. Bush and McCain rail, but months later, Iraq's president, George Bush, and John McCain all agree that a prudent timeline is in order.

Candidate Obama calls for renewed cooperation with our allies in Europe, and Europe's citizens pour out
into the streets to greet him.

That's the impact of inspirational, capable, charismatic leadership. It's been missing so long in this country that folks like Ryan Metlen can't value it from the political manipulation they've been conditioned to over the past seven years.

But Bush/Cheney were machination, while Obama is inspiration. Now, with so many crises on so many fronts, the ability to inspire, to influence, to motivate and move for positive change is needed more than ever before.

So what then, if McCain and Metlen and conservative bobble heads are in a funk over Obama's influence.

It's their loss, but America's gain.

Get yourself reacquainted with inspiring and effective leadership.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


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