Sour Grapes

I’m not sure if these thoughts come with the suddenness of an epiphany, or a slow accumulation of observations one layered atop another, each one adding a little more detail until the picture is clear.  It is at once one thing that you knew from the beginning and yet it takes some sort of jolt to dislodge everything.

Just a solidified idea pulling together from other looser thoughts, the outcome simple and clear; there are an awful lot of folks that are jealous of Barack Obama.

It was AJ Strata’s post that did it for me, about the eighty millionth post on how dangerously cult like the Obama campaign has become, how it’s all rhetoric and no beef.  In fact, I’m not even sure if there was anything special about that post specifically that really jogged my mind, I don’t think there really was.  It just crossed a threshold, a boundary after which instead of feeling the frustration of hearing the same argument yet again, actually understanding it.  And not understanding its virtues, those are easy enough, but understanding the motivation behind it.

Sour Grapes.

A phrase born from one of Aesop’s fables and often times misused.  It’s most common misuse is to attribute to something negative characteristics that really do exist.  That’s to say, “you didn’t want it because you really didn’t want it, it would have been bad for you–sour grapes”.  That’s kind of missing the point.

The point of the fable was not to look at the bad characteristics of something once coveted, but instead to unfairly attribute imagined negative characteristics in order to soften the blow for not being able to attain it yourself.  You may be having trouble following along, so I’ll just tell the story.

Wolf walks along, sees some grapes hanging from a tree.  He tries to reach them, but can’t, they’re too high.  He tries but after a while it becomes apparent that he will never get them.  He finally walks off in a huff and says “they’re probably sour anyway”.

He does not know they are sour, he cannot reach them.  The grapes are not sour, the wolf merely projects that negative connotation in order to cope with not being able to taste them himself.

It appears to me that the crowds, the oratory skills, the emotion and loyalty that Obama engenders are very sour grapes indeed.  The kind of following that Obama has created is the kind any right minded politician would quite literally kill for.  We know, politicians in the past have done everything they could in order to just project the image of the kind of support Obama actually manifests.  You saw it in the 2004 campaign with Bush and his prescreened crowds, you saw it earlier in this primary season with Hillary and her planted questioners.

This is exactly what politicians want to create around them, and it’s what loyal followers of any one candidate wishes they had at their side.  It is the justification of the conservative movement hopping in bed with the Religious Right.  These are some folks who knew how to get down with some worship.  For get “Messiah” with quotation marks, these people were following the Messiah! to all those Republican candidates, most notably George W. Bush.

Enthusiasm, folks.  That’s what gets people to the voting booths.  In the Democratic primaries, it may be the head candidate the more often than not wins out, but in the General Election, it’s the heart candidate.  It’s the one who most closely embodies an emotional connection, not merely an intellectual connection, with the voters.  How else does one explain George W. Bush beating both Al Gore and John Kerry?  Because he was more intelligent?  More cerebral?

The deep enthusiasm, the ability to inspire, all of it every single politician wants.  If they don’t, chances are, they aren’t very good politicians.  But in this election cycle one candidate has been gifted above all others with those qualities, and thus from those who are in other camps, we are seeing extremely sour grapes. 

In order to make such a truly coveted asset on the campaign trail seem unattractive, detractors have applied what Matthew Yglesias correctly called the conservation of virtues to the Obama campaign.  John McCain’s attack that he is eloquent, therefore he must be empty, Clinton’s attack that his speeches do not put food on the table (though, her Husband’s speeches put plenty of food on the table, or at least money in the bank).  It is that simple argument that because he is so good in that one single attribute, he must be absolutely dreadful in everything else.

But the funniest thing is, I wonder if these people actually ever listened to a speech:

Obama is not the second coming folks – he just keeps repeating images of a Nirvana pulled from watching Happy Days as kid, I suspect. But where ever he became entranced with with a simple minded world that resembles Sesame Street more than mains street USA and the mean streets of the Middle East really is irrelevant.

This from AJ.  This is the greatest proof that these folks have not only vehemently resisted the Kool-aid, but they’ve never actually even tasted the grapes.  You listen to Obama’s speeches he never paints a candy land, Sesame Street image.  Nor does he ever say it’s going to be easy.  Indeed, his latest stump speeches have gone so far as to clarify the difficulty and challenges of hope as criticism has increased.  He’s not selling Sesame Street, he’s just selling a way of making main street better.

I’ve never drunk the Kool-aid.  I realize Obama’s human, he’s got his flaws, and I’ve got issues with some and have come to grips with other.  Like I said, I never drunkthe Kool-aid, but I’ve had the grapes, and they’re not sour at all.  Those taste just fine.

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