- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 17, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COMMENTARY:

The Democrats are on the verge of nominating the first celebrity presidential candidate in U.S. history. On Aug. 25, the Democratic National Convention in Denver will begin. The Democratic Party will officially endorse Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to be its nominee.

The event is a watershed moment in American politics. It is not just that for the first time an African-American will head a presidential ticket of a major party. It signifies something even more profound: the triumph of our celebrity culture.

America’s stoic, traditional culture is being replaced by one of rampant hedonism, moral relativism and self-indulgence. We are no longer able to distinguish what is important and meaningful from what is frivolous and inconsequential. We are suffering from what Pope Benedict XVI calls the “infantilization” and “entertainmentization” of our society. We live in a culture dominated by TV, tabloids and trash; Hollywood, sports, sex and pop music reign supreme. In short, we have become obsessed with games and entertainment.

Mr. Obama politically embodies this ubiquitous celebrity culture. His campaign appearances have the feel of a rock concert rather than a serious rally, with tens of thousands of cheering, adoring, screaming crowds (many of whom can be seen weeping, wailing and some even fainting from whipped-up frenzy). His track record and resume are paper-thin. His claim to the presidency is based on working as a “community organizer” (where his greatest accomplishment was to provide low-income students with summer jobs), serving in the Illinois State Senate, and being a U.S. senator for three years with no consequential legislative achievements - not one.

Mr. Obama is an effective public speaker, whose soaring rhetoric and carefully crafted campaign props makes for good political theater. But he lacks the experience and maturity to occupy the White House.

It is no accident that he is the favorite candidate of the Hollywood left. Many in tinsel town, such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, are offering to raise money for him. They are doing this for one simple reason: Mr. Obama is one of them. He is a romantic, cosmopolitan liberal whose self-righteous moralizing on practically every issue - Iraq, Darfur, global warming, universal health care - reflects their inflated self-importance and puerile worldview.

Mr. Obama is a self-absorbed narcissist who portrays himself as a political messiah - the anointed one, who by virtue of being elected will usher in a “new kind of politics” and badly needed “change” and “hope.” One of his campaign slogans is “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” It captures the messianic tone, hubris and fundamental immaturity of his movement. It is all about him and his supporters - and their supposed greatness.

Although John McCain was roughed up by the media for his campaign ad comparing Mr. Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, the ad was correct: Mr. Obama is a world-renowned celebrity, whose immense popularity is not rooted in reality but fantasy. He has won no wars, passed no major pieces of legislation nor liberated any country. He has not even won the presidential election (although this may be news to his campaign and the fawning press corps). His only significant accomplishment has been to defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton - a highly polarizing and flawed candidate, who was ripe for the taking. This does not make him a Douglas MacArthur or Thomas Jefferson.

The most vivid illustration of his celebrity fantasist politics was his speech in Berlin. “The greatest danger,” Mr. Obama said was not Islamic terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons or the rise of fascist China and Russia. No, the “greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.” He vowed that “The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.”

Mr. Obama perceives his mission to end racism and religious division. Does he really seek to do what no other historic spiritual leader or prophet - not Jesus, Muhammad, Moses or Buddha - has done before: unify the peoples of the world? If he truly believes this, then Mr. Obama is simply kooky. If he doesn’t, then he is a cynical charlatan peddling utopian snake oil. Either way, he shouldn’t be president.

What he should get, however, is his own reality TV show called, “The World According to Barack.” This way he and his fellow celebrity narcissists can spout their vacuous, sophomoric platitudes - and leave the serious business of governing to the grown-ups.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times.

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