Monday, November 17, 2008

Obamismo

Newsweek | The use and abuse of Obama as a metaphor for dramatic racial and social change is suddenly so widespread, it may become a verb. Conservative Party Leader David Cameron and Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown have bickered about their ability to Obama the U.K., with Cameron embracing the slogan of change and Brown espousing liberalism. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy openly compares himself—the right-wing son of an aristocratic Hungarian immigrant—to the American son of a Kenyan father.

"God save us from Obamismo, that new religion that has flooded our earthly temples with such exaltation that it threatens to become a cosmic plague," wrote columnist Pilar Rahola in the Barcelona daily La Vanguardia, deriding Obama, ironically, as "a kind of messiah." Israeli columnist Sever Plocker dubbed him "Mr. Universe": the man who is all things to all people, and to whom the whole world is looking for leadership.

Yet amid the euphoria and the excess, it is increasingly clear that Obama is, in fact, the unique product of a unique moment in America's history, a figure almost impossible to replicate or even emulate in any other country. In the United States itself, it took both the worst crisis and perhaps the best-organized campaign in a century to break the color barrier, and generations may pass before American voters choose another black man, or a Latino or Asian or Jew, to be president.