Obama: The Perfect Leader For a Self-Absorbed Generation

by on August 3rd, 2008

In one sense, Senator Obama’s recent speech in Germany is the perfect cultural balm for a world weary of the travails of modern existence. That’s only to say he has perfect pitch when it comes to blending in with those for whom hope is a defense, for whom a Statist response to every ill, real or perceived, is comforting.

One of the bleaker symptoms of this generation is its peculiar insistence that, for everything from child-rearing to advancing one’s career to dealing with one’s impending mortality, its challenges are unprecedented. It’s also the case that its arrogant self-regard and intellectual hubris has assured them that the only goal of countless generations that silently toiled throughout the centuries was to prepare the world for the gift of this generation.

To call this permanently petulent generation anything other than a whining, self-aggrandizing lot is to miss the most glaring development on our cultural landscape since the dawn of civilization. The irony is that it dovetails perfectly with Obama’s recycled bromides about breaking down walls and eliminating our differences, messages that resonate with this lost generation, one that yearns to be moored to something, anything that purports to relieve it of responsibility and accountability.

Indeed, Obama’s message has the vacuous ring of false advertizing that promises riches or products that deliver the impossible, which belies two thousand years of history during which civilization advanced only as a result of hard work, sacrifice, competition, and ingenuity. But, in our intellectually sybaritic age that lionizes a unipolar approach to education by revising history and vilifying conservatism, Obama’s best hope is to convince us that Herculean tasks are de rigueur for this first-term senator.

That’s why he treated the world to a speech that meticulously avoided confrontation with the real world, one where platitudes reign and the grim truths about the human condition are redacted. In their place is the self-serious image of Obama as the world’s savior, as the Uber-Therapist here to treat a beleagured generation, to cleanse us of our secular sins.

There seems to be an inverse relationship between age and eagerness to seek out oracles such as Obama, which is why so many are convinced the youth vote will carry the day for him–the younger they are the more energized they seem. That’s in large part because they’re fueled by an idealism that blinds them to the fact that his policy recommendations, from taxing his way out of economic trouble, to an untoward dependence upon soft power, are relics from a past best left buried.

It’s fascinating political theater to see people drawn to a magnetic personality, which is a timeless phenomenon, but one upon which reality ultimately intrudes. That time will come, and as the media slowly awakens to the fact that it does, in fact, have a responsibility to move beyond its infatuation with Obama, the truth about this candidate will be come undeniably apparent.

Philip Mella