The Magical Democrat

barnett, dean

The Magical Democrat Enchanted by Obama. BY DEAN BARNETT To understand Barack Obamaís campaign, itís instructive to look back at the last contender to enrapture the leftís grassroots,...

...After his Super Tuesday victories, Obama delivered one of his more stirring speeches...
...He was allergic to the cats...
...The bad news is that Obamaís fantasy world is appealing, much more appealing than the real world...
...Obamaís success has relied on his campaign occupying a higher plane, a place of hopes realized and dreams come true...
...Finally they hit on one: Howard Dean...
...The good news for McCain is that he has far more experience dealing with the ugliness of the real world than Obama has, and can speak to our looming challenges with far more authenticity...
...To make a long story short, Johnson eventually arose from the fetal position, put some clothes on, and got a job working for the Dean campaign...
...The only problem with being the Magical Democrat is that most elections end up focusing on issues...
...In 2008, the far more plausible (not to mention electable) Barack Obama has assumed the role of the Magical Democrat...
...Aside from a very occasional, very tepid suggestion that teachersí unions may be fallible, Obama resides fi rmly within the Democratic mainstream on every major issue...
...People donít weep in his presence because they have heard the details of his health care prescriptions and concur with his proposals...
...Obamaís opponent will have to disenchant his followers...
...BY DEAN BARNETT To understand Barack Obamaís campaign, itís instructive to look back at the last contender to enrapture the leftís grassroots, Howard Dean...
...It makes one feel like a killjoy to point out that Barack Obama is merely a man, and a politician at that...
...He stripped to his underwear, lay on the fl oor in a fetal position and remained there for days, occasionally sipping from an old carton of orange juice...
...In 2003, Howard Dean, for reasons we still canít fully comprehend, served as the emotional life preserver for the hopeless left...
...Meanwhile, radio host James Vicevich has compiled a growing list of swooning victims at Obama rallies...
...Not only that, he found a new girl who struck his fancy and who shared his passion for the Vermont governor...
...The point is that for a while now, at least since the Iraq war turned into a long slog, there have been legions of liberals anxious to pin their hopes on a new savior, who would get the world spinning on its proper axis again...
...Before he left, Merrill told him that she didnít love him anymore...
...He was the Magical Democrat who just by dint of his presence in the Oval Offi ce would right the worldís wrongs...
...Obama then may look smaller than he does now...
...It is harder to strike a pose as a world-historical fi gure when quibbling over the top marginal income tax rate...
...Johnsonís friends kept calling, trying to think of something that would get him out of the house...
...Unlike Hillary Clinton, who delivers such set-pieces fl anked by musty relics from her husbandís administration like Wesley Clark and Madeleine Albright, Obama speaks amidst a throng of enthusiastic young followers...
...The point of repeating this anecdote isnít to indulge in some belated mockery of the Dean campaign, although such mockery always makes for fi ne sport...
...A report from Madison, Wisconsin: ďBefore the senator arrived, students were tossing around an infl atable cow above the crowd...
...The Fox News cameras that night made a point of focusing on one woman who was so overwhelmed by the candidate that her eyes repeatedly welled up...
...And in troubled times, many voters may be eager to curl up in the fetal position in a warm, safe place created by the most attractive Magical Democrat of them all...
...He returned to his apartment in Atlanta, [which] was also serving as a storage space for Merrillís possessions . . . and as a temporary home for her two cats...
...Nevertheless, thereís something about him that encourages his supporters to consider the impossible achievable...
...The story began with the sad tale of Clay Johnson: Last February, Clay Johnson, 26, took a trip from Atlanta to the Dominican Republic to visit his girlfriend, Merrill, who was studying linguistics at a university there...
...At least when Bill Clinton ran, he did so promising a number of things that werenít in the traditional Democratís bailiwick...
...He carried an engagement ring in his pocket, but when he arrived, he said, Merrill was cold and distant, and he never gave it to her...
...At the risk of being even more of a sourpuss, one can note that, in spite of the meaning heís already giving to so many peopleís lives, Obama is a thoroughly conventional liberal...
...Three people fainted in the midst of all the enthusiasm...
...The Times does not report whether she too eventually left Johnson curled up in a ball...
...The challenge for Republicans, specifi cally John McCain, will be to conduct the general election in the real world of limited government and dangerous foreign malefactors rather than in the Obama fantasy world...
...In a December 2003 report, the New York Times Magazine explored the personal dimension of the Deanmania sweeping the Democratic party...

Vol. 13 • February 2008 • No. 23


 
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