I've been a holdout on commenting about Rob Natelson's two posts on Obama as Messiah. As I have argued here and in blog comments elsewhere, the notion that Obama is, or claims to be, some sort of supernatural savior was the dumbest thing to come out of the 2008 election. Yet it persists.
To respond point by point:
1. Virtually 100 percent of the Messianic claims I have heard about Obama come from the right, not the left. I don't doubt that the idea is out there on the left somewhere, but I followed the election pretty closely and never ran across a serious argument that Obama is anything but a human being, fragile and flawed like all of the rest of us.
2. With respect to Obama's resume, it certainly was thinner than I would prefer. I don't know how many of his supporters think he will "govern brilliantly" or "transform America," but don't count me among them. I voted for him because he struck me as an unusually cool head, a good speaker and a pragmatic politician, tough enough to get the job done and compassionate enough to want to get the job done right. I may be wrong, of course, but a fellow has to hope.
3. I don't know of any "hate-mongers" in Obama's associations. Ayers committed criminal acts a long time ago. So far as I can tell, he is out of the hate business. His acts, despicable though they were, fell within a tradition of American armed violence against perceived government oppression that the founding fathers not only understood but practiced. Jeremiah Wright's sermons (I've read three) strike me as firmly in the Christian tradition, a bit shrill at times, maybe, but far from hate speech. I haven't heard of any other alleged "hate-mongers" in there.
4. I haven't heard the claim that Obama has the highest IQ ever in the White House. I thought the trophy for that honor had been retired and is in a closet somewhere at Monticello.
Rob's point, apparently, is that Obama should "dampen the unrealistic level of expectation now." I'm not sure that's doable, or even wise. I hope that most Americans are realistic enough to know that presidents almost never live up to our highest hopes and ideals. But that doesn't mean we should quit trying to find one who does, or that the ones we do find should tell us to stop looking.
UPDATE: Upon further reflection, two additional points:
1. Even presidents who look saint-like in retrospect didn't necessarily seem that way at the time. Despite having to run against the peace platform in his own party, George McClellan won 45 percent of the popular vote against Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Defend that vote, Democrats!
2. If any president in modern history has taken on supernatural status, it has not come from leftists in support of a liberal Democrat but from conservatives in support of Ronald Reagan. Hannity's daily hagiography of Reagan is one of his most amusing diversions.
UPDATE: I somehow neglected to link to these worthy posts on this topic.