Obama devotees create a mythology for themselves — and toddlers.
In Plato’s Republic Socrates argues for censoring poets and “men of a baser sort” who deign to misrepresent the gods as “praying and beseeching” sissy boys. After all, if youth were led to believe that society’s mythological all-stars were “no better than men,” it would doom the proposed state to be led by an elite vanguard.
The authors of two recent children’s picture books detailing the life Barack Obama have taken this classical Greek advice to heart, turning Hillary Clinton’s classic mockery — “Celestial choruses will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect” — into the straight-faced official biography for the four to seven year-old set.
Here, for example, is how Jonah Winter, striking a tone in BARACK somewhere between Vladimir Lenin and action movie preview narrator, translates the presidential race for America’s impressionable babes:
[O]n the horizon, at the dawn of a new age, there appeared a man who would be the embodiment of King’s dream — a presidential candidate whose very being was a bridge that joined nations.
Not to be outdone, Nikki Grimes’ Son of Promise, Child of Hope describes the early years of Barack, “his mama, white as whipped cream; his daddy, black as ink,” thusly:
He was there in Chicago because he cared about these people. They were his family. People in Kenya were his family. Indonesians were his family. And no matter where he was, the world was his home. And who he was could be summed up in one word: loveable.
Well, at least she doesn’t say Messiah.
Now, neither Grimes nor Winter’s books may be, as Bill Clinton would have it, “the biggest fairy tale” you’ve ever seen — recall Atlas, the collected work of The Brothers Grimm, Howard the Duck. And electoral foes eagerly awaiting an illustrated version of Obama Nation should consider a regimen of aromatherapy and a brief hiatus from the Free Republic message boards.
It is nevertheless telling that in picture books purportedly designed to teach children about Obama’s life ample room is found for grand explication of his Holy Ghost-like omniscient global citizenship and the transubstantiation of his “very being” into a “bridge that joined nations” (past tense?) but no space for any earth-bound facts of his remarkable rise, which even his most diehard fans would presumably (hopefully?) acknowledge as corporeal in nature.
Alas, the frantic haste with which Obama’s supporters have sought to cast him as the Nanny State übermensch — so flawless, so supremely well-equipped to seize the nation back from evil Republican mole-men that he can reduce upper middle class white women to tears faster than Oprah — reveals a latent insecurity regarding the actuality of Obama and his qualifications, never mind the cognitive dissonance of trumpeting a candidate as preternaturally singular while simultaneously accusing anyone who dares question the transcendental specimen’s Everyman status of xenophobia, of racism, of an invidious invocation of The Other.
The apocryphal Barack Obama of these books may as well have chosen Harry Potter as his running mate. (Imagine how that would have energized the prized Youth Vote!) Yet clearly, his supporters believe, like Plato, that there is intrinsic worth in creating and maintaining a mythology: It’s an aggregation of power that deflects questions from mere mortal dissenters. (Hey buddy, when was the last time your very being was a bridge between nations?) Whatever the We are the ones we’ve been waiting for — cough, cough — to elect me, rhetoric, idolatry also demands an unusual and slavish devotion not usually accorded to human beings from followers.
What’s not for a politician to love?
TO THIS END OF MYTH CREATION, the ambassadors of Barack Obama’s unofficial Department of Early Indoctrination appear to be aping, consciously or otherwise, the precepts of The Hero With a Thousand Faces — the New Agey philosophical treatise famously used by George Lucas to bring structure to the Star Wars mythology.
In this influential tome Joseph Campbell laid out the “standard path” of the archetypal hero, who amidst varying scenery and settings invariably “ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” This hero’s visions, ideas, and inspirations are “eloquent, not of the present, disintegrating society and psyche, but of the unquenched source through which society is reborn.”
Sound familiar? Consider the following cross-sample of the Obama picture books and Campbell’s hero checkpoints:
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?