US ELECTIONS/ The “mystery” of Obama
In the end, it was all about Barack Hussein Obama. It was the mystery of Obama that in the end decided last week's elections.
I remember writing about it back in 2008 during the campaign of Obama against other Democrats first (the primaries), and then against Senator John McCain (who of course knew Obama as a fellow Senator). At that time, I wrote about the frustration of many of his political opponents in categorizing him according to the categories of liberal or conservative, moderate, socialist, radical, revolutionary, having a messianic complex, anti-Christ, foreigner, anti-American, etc.
Even though many of these views of Obama are clearly ridiculous, they were reactions to something different about him, perhaps summarized best by his race, his names, and his exotic (to many scary and threatening) geographical history.
Obama the candidate and his closest advisors seemed to have concluded that this image of mystery helped Obama in the long run, even though the most politically dangerous of them were forcefully rejected, at times by Obama himself (such as his relation to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright).
This controlled and guided undercurrent continued during his presidency and in the just concluded campaign. I don't know how different the situation in Chicago was for Obama to cultivate the aura of mystery. A cleric who knows the politics of Chicago well said to me: "There is no mystery to 0bama. He is just one more Chicago politician, maybe the most cultured one, thus the most dangerous when challenged by equally or more cultured opponents.”
Now that these elections are over it is clear that the undercurrent of mystery was an important factor in Obama's re-election. This can be seen in the state of shock of many of his most avid opponents who look and talk like those biblical pagan priests whose gods were not able to show themselves to be more powerful than Yahweh.
They had been absolutely sure that Obama would not win the election, and many of his supporters look truly amazed that he had won it. Where does his power come from? Who is he?, they seem to be asking.
An article last week by Jonathan Martin in the electronic daily Politico reminds us of the famous theatre, movie and feel vision critic Pauline Kael who after the election of Nixon wrote that she could not understand how that could happen, since she had only met one person who intended to vote for him.