Bam’s Glam

…is gone. Thoughts on the loss of the president’s glamour, from the glamour expert:

What happened? In 2008, after all, not just political pundits and regular folks were expecting big things of Obama. So were certified leadership gurus. Warren Bennis of the University of Southern California and Andy Zelleke of Harvard praised Obama for possessing “that magical quality known as charisma.”

This charisma, they predicted, would give Obama “the transformational capacity to lift the malaise that is paralyzing so many Americans today” because “a charismatic leader could break through the prevailing orthodoxy that the nation is permanently divided into red and blue states … and build a broader sense of community, with a compelling new vision.”

There was only one problem. Obama wasn’t charismatic. He was glamorous — powerfully, persuasively, seductively so. His glamour worked as well on Bennis and Zelleke as it did on voters.

What’s the difference? Charisma moves the audience to share a leader’s vision. Glamour, on the other hand, inspires the audience to project its own desires onto the leader (or movie star or tropical resort or new car): to see in the glamorous object a symbol of escape and transformation that makes the ideal feel attainable. The meaning of glamour, in other words, lies entirely in the audience’s mind.

That was certainly true of Obama as a candidate. He attracted supporters who not only disagreed with his stated positions but, what is much rarer, believed that he did, too. On issues such as same-sex marriage and free trade, the supporters projected their own views onto him and assumed he was just saying what other, less discerning voters wanted to hear.

Even well-informed observers couldn’t decide whether Obama was a full-blown leftist or a market-oriented centrist. “Barack has become a kind of human Rorschach test,” his friend Cassandra Butts told Rolling Stone early in the campaign. “People see in him what they want to see.”

It was pretty obvious to me what he was from the get go. His faux pas with Joe the Plumber was a big tell.

[Update a while later]

Isn’t it time we grew up?

I want to underscore the fact that it is not just Barack Obama who is living in la-la land. It’s the whole apparat. The suits in Washington have ingested and then regurgitated the neo-Keynesian socialist pabulum that mesmerized elite opinion some time in the 1960s and has never let go.

But we are letting go. By “we” I mean the people who these fools and scoundrels in Washington have misled. They couldn’t help it. They don’t know any better. How cruel it is going to be when the mentally-challenged Joe Biden is exposed as the Grecian formula empty shell that he is. And Barack Obama . . . It was a good show while it lasted. If you closed your eyes and said “spread the wealth” he might have seemed, for a moment, like a serious politician. Really, as everyone sees now, he is a Gatsby-like figure who smiles and smiles but is imploding before our eyes.

On a summer-stock stage, it might have been an illuminating melodrama. Alas, we threw caution to the winds and elected someone who resented this country, was suspicious of wealth, and whose reflexive commitment to left-wing nostrums would gravely damage the most productive economy the world has ever seen. Tens or hundreds of thousands of people will suffer because of our naïveté and Barack Obama’s malevolent stupidity.

It is deeply ironic that so many in the media have referred to the president as “the adult in the room.”

13 thoughts on “Bam’s Glam

  1. McGehee

    “Barack has become a kind of human Rorschach test,” his friend Cassandra Butts told Rolling Stone early in the campaign. “People see in him what they want to see.”

    And that worked in his favor before people actually saw him in action.

  2. ken anthony

    I’ve said it before, the problem really isn’t Obama. The problem is all the idiots that voted for him. Recognizing an idiot is easy. Just ask them if they agree with the truth that Sarah Palin was and is an intelligent effective executive that still has more executive and business experience that Barack will have whenever he leaves office.

    Joining media bandwagons may be fun but they aren’t a sign of intelligence.

  3. Larry J

    As a commentor over at Roger’s Rules pointed out so accurately:

    “Only a genuine idiot could have thought a community organizer from Chicago would make a good president.”

  4. Curt Thomson

    This isn’t about “glamour” but is tangentially related. “No Drama Obama”. An outstanding corner post by Stanley Kurtz.

  5. Michael G. Gallagher

    “People see in him what they want to see.” This probably means there was nothing of substance there to begin with. The suits he wears are just expensive corpse shrouds.

  6. Abelard Lindsey

    I think Howard Dean, backed by Hillary, will challenge Obama in the Democratic primary next year. The Deaniacs will be back like zombies in those Apocalypse films.

  7. Larry J

    As long as people keep demanding ever increasing government largess without concern for the debt, we’re engaging in ecomonic pedophilia. We’re screwing our childrens’ futures for our benefit today. Our only hope as a nation is to throw the economic pedophiles out of office and reverse this runaway spending binge. “Spending ourselves to prosperity” makes about as little sense as “drinking ourselves to soberity.”

  8. Scott Ganz

    So people saw in him what they wanted to see, which I think is accurate. I saw in him an empty suit, a shiny new package wrapped around musty old ideas. If that’s what I wanted to see, I must be the biggest pessimist on Earth.

  9. wodun

    I’ll bite Bob-1

    “It’s not now remembered, but when Obama initially ran for president he wasn’t the preferred candidate of even the traditionally liberal African-American community.”

    Sure Hillary was the frontrunner for brief period of time before the media and establishment Democrats were calling on her to pull out of the primary before the contest was decided by votes.

    But the article was supposed to be about how Obama is a moderate conservative, too bad there is only one point which even comes close to supporting that and still doesn’t do it.

    This isn’t it,
    “White liberals were no less concerned about Obama’s persistent deviations from their dogma. On June 25, 2008, Sen. Russ Feingold criticized him for supporting legislation giving telephone companies immunity for permitting government surveillance in national security cases, as well as for opting out of federal campaign funds, thereby undermining liberal support for campaign finance reform.”

    This is as close as it gets,
    “After the election, many conservatives who thought that Obama’s centrism was a campaign ploy were shocked when he followed through with appointees that could – and often did – hold positions in Republican administrations. Looking at Obama’s national security team,”

    So because Obama held over some key personnel from the Bush years, he is a moderate conservative? I don’t think his other actions as President back that up.

  10. Der Schtumpy

    Larry J,
    I’m still waiting to hear one decent definition of just what a “Community Organizer” does or is!

    All the ones I’ve seen show him making little difference in the “community”, except that he represented POOR people in various ways, in various situations, which made him RICH, but his POOR people are still poor!!

    During that, simultaneously he was making friends in the IL Democrat power brokers group, and among the We Hate America Chicago Communists Association.

    How does ANY of that make him a possible Candidate, much less the President? I’m stymied by everything that has happened since he announced, especially the NUMBER of people who got fooled into voting for him. It’s the American version of Germany and Hitler in my mind.

    And when I hear idiots on the left talking about Conservative TERRORISM, or about the Tea Party being removed from ANY access to the MSM to SHUT THEM UP, I wonder if the Left has considered camps and ovens yet?

    And if they have, do they assume people will go willing because they SAY SO!?

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