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Obama’s Oedipus complex


Liberal Rapture’s “Yes, Andrew, Obama does want you to go away” inspired me to create this analysis, some of which has been steeping for a while.

Obama’s thralls are a manifestation of a group Oedipal event, in the archaic sense, not the Freudian.  They sought a saviour.  {I describe them as thralls because they were enthralled by Obama.}  Like Oedipus, they were warned by prophecy of the bad actions they would take, but they were not guided adequately by their foreknowledge. The founders warned people about the consequences of having kings, aristocrats, and saviours do their thinking and acting for them.

Like Oedipus, Obama’s thralls based their actions on a form of wilful blindness to the circumstance. They saw Obama as anti-Bush, anti-politics-as-usual, and anti-whatever is keeping them down, regardless of evidence to the contrary. To various extents, Obama’s thralls were more or less wilful than Oedipus in their metaphorical self-blinding. The intelligentsia sit at the end of the continuum that is most wilful.

Furthermore, Obama has stated that people project upon him an image of someone “good” that they want him to be. Obama, his campaign, and the behaviour manipulation scholars identified by Time magazine, designed their presentation of Obama to take full advantage of his amorphous “goodness.”

{Obviously, Obama and his team are not fans of free thought.  If they were they would not be using practises that are intended to override, subvert, or sidestep rationality. Expect someone to say that they were only doing what’s best for the people, which is the standard starting point for totalitarian aspirations. Our world is filled with such anti-humanist practises, whether by business people or ignoble politicians.}

Like Oedipus, the thralls are now at various places before, upon and past the threshold of recognizing that “their eyes lied.” In short, Obama is not providing the “anti-Bush, anti-politics as usual, and anti-whatever is keeping them down” leadership they expected to see.  In fact, to their horror, he is doing the things that he has typically done as an elected official and as a candidate.  {FISA stands as the archetypal example.}

What remains is how they will choose to “blind” themselves to alter the organ that misled their actions.

In my humble opinion, a good place to start is to re-cognize the dangers inherent in wanting others to do our thinking and acting for us in the political sphere.  What do you think?

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66 Responses

  1. I’m watching a twitter conversation between blog pundits on the new Obama military tribunals. Glenn Greenwald and Jack Tapper are back and forth on will these things be different from the Bush Tribunals. Then we have some one in the spam hopper saying were too tough on Obama because he has to make real decisions now, so gee, let him not release those torture photos ….

    this just brings to mine all those unravelings that the thralls are trying to rationalize away!

    Great first post and I’m so happy to be the first!!!!!


  2. Willful blindness is such a good way to characterize the Obot attitude. The amazing thing is that Obot bloggers will complain about things he does and then just a few days later it seems they have forgotten all about their complaints and begun to rationalize. It’s frightening.

    Great post, Steven! Welcome to the front page.

    • YUP! Welcome to the FRONT page!!!!

    • yeah, like Obama’s military tribunals aren’t Bush’s military tribunals

      Obama’s not releasing torture photos rationale isn’t Bush’s not releasing torture photos rationale

      Obama’s bailout is not Bush’s Bailout …

      on and on and on

      And gee, the fine print just reads the same ….but it’s 11th dimensional kungfu chess!!!

      • Not fair..Give Obama some credit for innovation..In the EFF/ACLU wiretap lawsuit, sure they reused the Bush State Secrets defense but they added the brilliant idea of sovereign Immunity. So if you can establish standing, which you can’t, and if what the Govt did is illegal, you still can’t sue because of sovereign Immunity. “Smartest..bestest President ever!!!!

      • Yes. It would be a deliciously fun exercise to do a quantitative comparsion of the two.

      • sovereign immunity, I bet even Dick Cheney wished he’d thought of that one … guess he should’ve stayed in college and then gone to law school

        • Wasn’t it Nixon who tried to use that when he said “if the President does it, it is not illegal.”
          Nothing is new under the sun.

        • yes, but sovereign immunity has such pseudo intellectual appeal that it’ll probably sell better

    • TY.

  3. willful blindness indeed

  4. Lobbyists, campaign finance, FISA, NAFTA, gay rights, Gitmo, Iraq

    Pick a promise and he’s either broken it, is preparing to break it or is showing no interest in keeping it.

    And his supporters chant:

    “O-bama O-bama O-bama”

    • myiq,

      Precisely. This is why I think the Oedipus analogy is good. Oedipus acted so as to avoid doing horrific things. He ended up doing the very things he wanted to avoid. The thralls wanted to end the “horrors” of the Bush adminstration so they acted to elect Obama. Electing Obama is resulting in the “horrors” they sought to avoid.


      • Chanting
        Obama, Obama, Obama,
        Obama, Obama, Obama,
        Obama, Obush, Obama,

        Obama, Obama, Obama,
        Obush, Obama, Obama,
        Obama, Obama, Obama,

        Obama, Obush, Obama,
        Obama, Obama, Obama,
        Obush, Obama, Obama,

      • I remember the discussions I had with Obots before I gave up and made my way here.

        They made claims about his abilities that had no evidence to support them and rationalized every ill move he made as part of some complicated strategy.

        I got a few of them mad when I told them Obama wasn’t an outsider, he came up fast but he came up from the inside. He made friends and connections that a rookie Senator could never make on his own.

        Typical Obots – they can rationalize anything Obama does but get angry if you use logic, facts and reason on them.

        Did I mention that they are arrogant and hateful too?

      • The real 11th dimensional chess: Obama knew all along that his “thralls” realling wanted torture, war, total informational awareness, and serfdom for 90 percent of the population. He read their minds and gave them what they really wanted all along!

    • well, it’s 1 – 2 – 3, oh what are we fighting for
      don’t ask me I don’t give a damn
      Next stop Afghanistan!

    • And yet a large number of my neighbors, Good White People With Good Jobs LIving in Very Safe Land, many of them professors and administrators at the local university, or retired ministers and their wives or public school teachers or state government salaried workers….well, many of them still think Obama is A-OK because, well, “He’s so intelligent!” If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were suffering from blind racism.

      Is Obama intelligent? Maybe. But so was Nixon. When’s the last time you saw Lucifer wearing a dunce cap?

      • I have yet to see him do anything that requires more than average intelligence.

        He hasn’t published anything that is particularly creative let alone “brilliant.” He can’t think on his feet very well, he makes a lot of unforced errors and his people skills are lousy when he’s not on stage.

        Without his handlers he’s barely sentient.

      • The “intelligent” bit for me equates with the longtime custom of describing any black of any accomplishment as being “articulate”. Biden, in his inimitable fashion, improved matters by adding “clean” as the latest accolade. Idiot.

      • That “He’s so intelligent” meme has gone global. With nothing to prove it, it is now a stated fact!

        And I so agree with the “… and his people skills are lousy.” How anybody can call him charismatic is beyond me! Even if he was intelligent, which I doubt, his social intelligence is close to non-existing. It is manufactured in the heads of his “thralls”.

      • Oh yeah, and Welcome as a FP’er Steven!

  5. dakinikat,

    I like that we have a quilt metaphor followed by unravellings!

    I’ve heard it said that one of the con artist’s most effective weapons is the rationalizations marks employ to convince themselves they are not being, or have not been, duped.

    I empathize with those who didn’t go Obot. It has to hurt.

    TY. I share the sentiment.

    • probably the same way those people who invested with Bernie Madoff felt for awhile … but it wore off as soon as they realized their deep pockets had shrunk 12 sizes! I’m sure the next stage after denial is something along the lines of anger.

      • dakinikat,

        Good example. Madoff turned out to be a verb as well.


        • From what little I know, one of the ploys that Madoff used was to offer his “sweet deals” to the “select.” He didn’t have to advertise because he used personal references. You got the privilege to invest with him at wonderful rates because of who you knew. Gotcha!!!!

  6. Great use of Obama psychology Steve… welcome to the front page. ILU!

  7. Excellent analysis and right on target in my opinion. It will indeed be fascinating to watch the ways in which the thrall stop themselves from seeing the truth. Hopefully at some point they’ll see. But such delusions can be difficult and even dangerous to break through.

    • didn’t GWB still have a 20% approval rating when he left office? Something like that? I have a feeling some of them are too far gone to ever come out. It sort of upsets me.

      • Yea, and Obama will probably always have a similar percentage believing he was the greatest president evah no matter what happens. Of course if he sort of slides through doing OK, then he will have a bigger percentage. Time will tell.

      • li,

        I wanted to acknowledge your point below about people having to work with the information they are given. One reason being politically active is good is because it trains one to recognize what types people and policies yield what types of results. Furthermore, it helps one to recognize when something important is missing, like information relevant to the decision-making process.

        Thanks for the thoughts.

      • count me as a fan, steve :p

  8. Sorry, I meant Obot psychology.

    The founders warned people about the consequences of having kings, aristocrats, and saviours do their thinking and acting for them.

    that is what always bugged me the most about him. Even from the start, when I was still under the impression that he was a real liberal.

  9. Nice first post, welcome!

    Random shocker: I learned on DU today that the media is in the pocket of the Republicans. Isn’t that just a corker? The level of cognitive dissonance required to maintain that thought is at the tsunami level.

    That’s how deep some of them are in, and they won’t get out again. It’s like sitcoms that do so well ratings-wise, but I can never understand why anyone watches them. Yet millions of households tune in because that’s what’s served up. BO is the Everybody Loves Raymond politician. He’s sold and people passively buy.

    It’s hard to tell — and they may yet backslide — but this reversal on the detainee torture photographs may yet be the brooches in the eye. Some seemed to get slapped upside the head with that one — we’ll see if they roll over and go back to sleep.

    OTOH, I’m unable to just forgive and forget. Even if they wake up, a lot of these folks systematically and viciously destroyed so much in their emotional need for an anodyne messiah. What a mess. I feel like it’s all such a mess right now — I don’t even know what a rehabilitated America means anymore, exactly. But the rule of law and single payer is a place to start. (I know, talk about your Wonderland, eh?)

    • we have a spam on that detainee one from one of our usual drive bys, I should release … the rationalizations should’ve given her an O-gasm while she was writing it, should go check to see if any one’s cleaned it out yet

    • alice,

      America has no shortage of good people, good ideas, and good will. Hopefully, the bad circumstances will bring out the best. It would be good if the sovereign immunity enjoyed by elites in the courts was overturned, as you note. I’m a fan of single-payer.


      • Count me as a fan of single payer as well.

        America has no shortage of good people, good ideas, and good will.

        I’m glad you said that. I agree. I also think America is filled with good people who are fed bad messages sometimes. You have to understand that Obots are a minority in this country.

        A majority of people who voted for Bam did so because of the Economy.

  10. Heh, and I agree wholeheartedly that this is another good point of departure:

    “a good place to start is to re-cognize the dangers inherent in wanting others to do our thinking and acting for us in the political sphere.”

    Well put. When people project their emotional need for a savior into the political realm, that tends to turn out very badly indeed.

  11. alice,

    Democracy is hard work that is well worth the effort.


  12. yay! what a great new front-pager.

    Love your first post, may it be the first of many!

  13. Wow… Steve, I like you. Especially your logical optimism. Please post lots!

  14. I really enjoyed reading this. 🙂

    It really is the willful blindness of the intelligencia that mystifies me. Over and over we heard, follow us because we know best, all while they were unable to articulate any rational reason to support Obama. One of Alexander Cockburn’s books has an exchange with Oliver Stone where Cockburn contends that the basis of the liberal cult that’s sprung up around JFK has its basis in a yearning for this omnipotent father figure to rise up and put everything to rights and lead us out of the wilderness. With the implication, of course, that we’re just too lazy to do the work ourselves, and as you say that generally doesn’t work out too well.

    • s,

      Nice stuff.

      My sense about the intelligentsia is that they/we think that our intellect makes us immune to things that it simply does not. I’m reminded of the movie “Ticket to Heaven.” In this movie it is noted that people with degrees tended to be more succeptible to the techniques of Sun Yung Moon’s followers than average people. I not sure about the accuracy of the statement, but I found the explanation that they thought their intellect protected them from whatever techniques the Moonies would employ, to be convincing.

      I’ll have to check out the Cockburn book.

      I’m off to sleep. Have a good night.

      • That makes a lot of sense. I live near several colleges and know tons of people with advanced degrees, and I also think that there’s a tendency to think that if you’re highly educated and well versed in certain areas then you somehow absorb knowledge of current events by osmosis without actually having to seek out information. I remember pressing Obots on different issues and realizing that they didn’t know what I was talking about–and not just policy positions, either, several times something would happen that wasn’t getting much coverage, and they’d deny it completely: “if that were true, I would have heard about it.” Which goes right back to your point, they think they can trust the MSM to tell them what they need to know because they’re too intelligent to be manipulated.

      • From the Times behaviorist article linked to above:

        “What worked was creating a sense that we’re all in this together and you’re a social deviant if you don’t join us,” recalls Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

        Only deviants criticise Obama. Intelligent people don’t.

        • No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back. – Turkish proverb


          I guess the idea is to never question and just fallow, because they know better… What do they think will bring us about?

  15. I think Obama is intelligent. Claiming that he’s not only reinforces the idea that if you’re intelligent then you are “good.” I haven’t researched this, but have heard often that Newt Gingrich is intelligent.

    The whole thing is that what we consider “intelligent” isn’t as wonderful as we would have it be. Our entire educational system is based on a certain kind of abstract intelligence quotient that is only part of what makes an effective human being.

    There are many books out that make the case for emotional intelligence. One example: Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman. Others identify multiple intelligences which are important attributes of being human.

    I have a respectable IQ, but I surely fail in lots of other areas. I falsely believed that my IQ made me special. It surely helped in getting into college and even getting some job offers. But I have learned the hard way that’s there’s lots more to life.

  16. pf,

    I,also,agree that Obama is intelligent. I know too many bright and brilliant people to see him other than bright, until evidence to the contrary arises.

    I think your point about emotional intelligence, and other intelligences, gets to the heart of the matter..

    Obama is bright, but is he wise?


  17. Steven, I agree with the comments that applaud your positive outlook on the American populace. One of the most crushing results of W’s presidency has been the loss of goodwill world wide. My nickname for him is President ill will. With Obama I do not see the intent as ill will, but rather an intentional neglect of the general welfare. He’s almost perfect in his ability to get and retain power by any means and yet appear blameless to the enthralled. That is how his administration reminds me of W’s. A continuation of “by any means” Rove’s tactics.

  18. I think the ‘intelligent” meme is used so much as it’s the one thing to differentiate Jr.r from Jr. – who was notoriously dense and lowered the bar so much – that any above average individual following him could be regarded as a genius. Wesley Clark captured this reality in 2004 when he ran and was asked what was the difference between him and W. His answer was: “I read”
    Excellent entry!

    • eof,

      Good insight. It didn’t make much sense in the context of the Democratic primary. Intelligence would count as anti-Bush.


  19. Congratulations on a great first TC post! I’m glad that you are as troubled as I am by Obama’s cadre of behavioral manipulation scholars. I’m wondering if you ever watched the groundbreaking documentary by Adam Curtis called The Century of the Self, which is about how those in power have used Freud’s and others’ theories to manipulate opinion in both advertising and politics. Watching that documentary changed the way I look at politics and was possibly one of the reasons why I found myself immune to the Obama brand.

    • i,

      TY for the reference. I think you’re right about immunity. I studied modern German history with Helen Liebel-Weckowicz and I am a fan of Orwell. When I encountered the Obots and experienced what they were doing to ordinary citizens just trying to make their way through the political morass, I had the tools to recognize the implications of the direction and magnitude of their actions.


      PS What is the digital equivalent of inky?

  20. The willful blindness will continue. To remove the blinders would necessitate an effort to learn the truth. People don’t want the truth and they sure as hell don’t want to have to expend their precious time finding it.

    Laziness is a huge component here.

    • c,

      “A republic, if you can keep it.” I suppose we are discovering what people are willing to trade for the security of paternalism? It reminds me too much of how wild pigs are domesticated.


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