Obama: From Magic Negro To Cult Of Personality
May 17, 2012 by Sam Rolley
Barack Obama, the President of the United States, has been accused by his critics of being a serial narcissist, addicted to fame and even of having a “messiah complex” — all charges Obama does little to defend himself against. And to be fair, becoming the President is a pretty impressive achievement. That said, Obama’s lack of humility is becoming frighteningly dictatorial.
In 2007, the Los Angeles Times portrayed then-Senator Obama as a man working toward the goal of becoming America’s “Magic Negro.” The Magic Negro emerged as a figure in postmodern folklore, often portrayed in film and literature as a black character that has no past and shows up in the middle of the story to help the story’s white protagonist out of a troublesome situation. The Times’ piece describes the existence of the Magic Negro character as a white attempt to assuage guilt for the historical oppression and discrimination against blacks in America.
Or as Rush Limbaugh put it: “The only thing that matters is he’s black and he sounds good and it allows you white racists to assuage your guilt. There is white racism out there, much of it is on the left where the plantation mentality still resides.”
Whether Americans would like to admit it, the excitement surrounding Obama’s first successful bid for President was largely due to the Magic Negro phenomenon. Charismatic, young and half black, Obama offered voters a long overdue alternative to the balding, older white men who had occupied the White House for more than two centuries. And the Magic Negro persona easily beat out Obama’s opponent John McCain, who appeared to be an older, more war-hungry version of George W. Bush.
Only after the election did Obama and his supporters begin to recognize the real problems associated with being the Magic Negro of the White House. By definition, the Magic Negro character enters the story with little or no background; he simply shows up to help the protagonist. Obama swept into the Presidential spotlight with Americans knowing little more than that he once taught Constitutional law, he was first a community organizer and then a Senator from Illinois, and he had an unconventional childhood and family history.
With little record upon which to base their criticisms, Obama’s detractors quickly focused on what they did know: There were many holes in the story of his past. Was he even eligible to be the President of the United States? Was he prepared for his political ambitions by people with radical and Communist ideologies? Was Obama himself a racist?
Obama offered partial answers to the questions, setting out with an ambitious plan to reshape the American psyche by playing upon racial and class tension in the United States. From his constant rhetoric about “millionaires paying their fair share” to getting involved in the media-fueled controversy of the shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin (“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”).
While Obama’s detractors asked questions about his background, his supporters began to ask some questions of their own. What about Obama’s promises regarding medical marijuana reform? Where are the “shovel-ready” jobs? Why are the perpetual wars becoming evermore perpetual? Why are civil liberties still being assaulted like they were under Bush?
The Magic Negro persona has worn thin, and now it is time for re-election. Enter Obama the Messiah, Obama the Dear Leader and Obama the man without whom Americans could not survive. Like any savvy despot, Obama and his re-election team have positioned the President to prey upon the weak in the upcoming election. Many people will not remember his failures, but will seize upon whatever information they hear about the President right before the election. The campaign is working feverishly to give the Magic Negro a larger role in the plot leading up to his insertion in the story.
Earlier this month, Vanity Fair brought Obama’s 1995 memoir “Dreams From My Father” back to national light, after it had been resigned for more than half a decade to gathering dust on the back shelves of bookstores. The magazine reported that Obama “compressed” several of his former girlfriends to shorten the book. A new biography written by Washington Post reporter David Maraniss focuses its attention on one woman in particular, Genevieve Cook, whom Obama dated when he was in his 20s. To tease the biography, Vanity Fair published excerpts from Cook’s diary that portray Obama as a thoughtful young man, desperately searching for an identity in a “Siddhartha”-type narrative. The biography also reportedly details Obama’s decision to identify himself as an American so that he could change the political landscape.
This Obama “coming of age” narrative that has recently been shoved down Americans’ throats is all part of an attempt to give the President a background to re-endear him to those who voted for the Magic Negro and were then disappointed by his inability to actually accomplish anything once in office. The same liberal bleeding hearts who voted for Obama simply because it was time for a black President in America are also suckers for a good “finding oneself” story like the one currently being pushed.
Aside from re-engineering and re-marketing the story of his personal life, Obama is attempting to piggyback on the legislative achievements of nearly every President since Calvin Coolidge. The White House, in an attempt to broaden Obama’s cult of personality, has added to the Presidential biographies of former U.S. Presidents notes about things that Obama has done since taking office. For instance:
- At the end of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s biography, the Obama White House has added: “On August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Today the Obama administration continues to protect seniors and ensure Social Security will be there for future generations.”
- After learning about Lyndon Johnson’s tenure in the White House, visitors to the site are offered: “President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965 — providing millions of elderly health care stability. President Obama’s historic health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, strengthens Medicare, offers eligible seniors a range of preventive services with no cost-sharing, and provides discounts on drugs when in the coverage gap known as the ‘donut hole.’”
- Dear Leader didn’t even spare the The Gipper: “President Reagan designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday; today the Obama Administration honors this tradition, with the First and Second Families participating in service projects on this day.
“In a June 28, 1985 speech Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multi-millionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule.”
Besides the President’s attempt to pad his own resume with the historical achievements of other men, he is also working toward making Americans believe that an Obama-less future is a hopeless one. The campaign demonstrated this by creating its “Life of Julia” website that gives visitors the opportunity to view propaganda about what a young woman’s life might be like with or without Obama.
The Obama transformation from Magic Negro to Dear Leader has taken place in just under four years. Given another term, who knows how far the Dear Leader may go.