Sunday, February 03, 2008

I'm Fascinated by Obama

I am utterly fascinated by Barack Obama. What grabs my attention about him is his rhetoric. While it is true he has a list of policy prescriptions like all candidates, he is also smart enough to know that people are way, way, way more likely to vote on personality and likability than specific issues. (E.g., I have an old friend who is a card carrying, paid up member of the Republican party and he supports Obama. He absolutely loves the guy. Go figure?)

I summarize Obama's rhetoric this way, "Give yourself to me and I will give you back to yourselves and together we can make a new country/world." This is heady, heady stuff. I mean heady, heady stuff.

BTW -- this is neither an endorsement nor a rejection of Obama. Just some observations. I hope you enjoy the next 10 months of brawling between the candidates! ;-)


Anonymous said...

I love that you are intruiged by Obama.
I love him. The first time I heard him was on a comedy show, a year before he planned to run for president.
That guy is hilarious--I mean, hilarious.
And, also, a very very decent man.

I am a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, as Lord, and I am deeply moved by this man, his vision, and his goodness.
We all know he is full of sin, just like all the candidates, and we know that he is not the saviour.
But I have to say, "I cannot wait for him."
I wanted Huckabbee, but he is not even on top anymore. I hate that.
I love that guy.
But I love Obama even more.
He speak to me, a 34 year old white guy who sees the heart of God's mission as reconciliation.
You also have to look at his wife.
What a team.
I am so proud that there is a potential in our country to put forward a guy like this.
I like him so much that I would work for him.
He is brilliant, he is a social activist, and he is in love with Jesus.
What else could you want?
Your buddy
Peter Milner

Peter said...

Maybe I need to clarify.

I am fascinated by his rhetorical strategy and the effect it has on his supporters. It is a great example of how rhetoric -- even when it is weak on specifics -- can move people.

It also raises fascinating questions about the state of the current electorate.

Again -- this is neither an endorsement nor rejection of Obama. Just oservations.

Alice C. Linsley said...

A great practitioner of rhetoric in history was Protagoras who said "Man is the measure of all things." I wonder if Obama would agree?

Another great master of rhetoric was Gorgias, the great nihilist. In his essay "On Nature," which exists only in paraphrases, Gorgias expresses his main philosophical ideas thus:

Nothing exists. If anything does exist, it is unknowable. If anything can be known it is incommunicable.

Both men mastered rhetoric to persuade men to follow them. That is the purpose of rhetoric. The big difference between the rhetoric of the classical period and today is this: the old masters knew how to argue logically. Analysis of the arguments of the candidates in this campaign reveals that they need to go back to school an learn about logical inference. Being so inexpert, they fit Dorothy Sayers' description of experts on education. She wrote, "the greatest authorities on the failures of modern education are precisely those who learned nothing."

Fr.Jeff said...

Obama is the most liberal voting senator in the senate. He is adamantly pro-choice and is a strong supporter of the LGBT agenda.Do not succomb to charisma and rhetoric and the media bandwagon.Pray for discernment and wisdom in choosing a candidate which is consistent with a biblical worldview.

fr. jeff said...

Peter,I believe your first choice,Mike Huckabee to be head and shoulders above any of the others.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Amen to that, Fr. Jeff!

Socrates had the right idea. He was suspicious of those who spoke persuasively and flattered their audiences, claiming to know the answers. He tended to listen only to those who recognized their ignorance.

The Scylding said...

It seems to me, as an outsider, that it is nigh impossible to make a statement, with qualifiers, about political figures in the US, and not be misread.... which is in itself a bit of an indictment, I think? It is possible to admire something about somebody, or even just like an individual, while disagreeing with some, even all of their opinions. It's called being mature...

fr jeff said...

Ah maturity expresses itself in many ways.One of which is not being swayed by rhetoric or charima or a gung-ho enamored media but by knowing where a candidate stands on the issues.Can anyone really articulate what Obama stands for besides change? I think a sign of real maturity is looking beyond the superficial.