Writing in 2008, months before the year's presidential election, Ezra Klein — an ostensibly clear-headed, data-driven policy wonk — lavished effusive praise upon Barack Obama, praise that verged on the metaphysical.
"Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate," Klein informed readers of The American Prospect. "He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence."
Though they so frequently congratulate themselves for their ability to jettison emotion and opinion in the service of objectivity and respectability, mainstream analysts often, as Klein did above, forget their self-professed role precisely when it would best serve the country.
For the eventual victory of Obama in 2008 was also — as Noam Chomsky, Adolph Reed, and others noted at the time — a victory for the advertising industry: Obama's success represented an astounding achievement for the politics of imagery and personality, for a political message that provides a kind of blank slate onto which voters can project their ideological preferences.
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