At the end of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” Commissioner Gordon warns Batman about the threat of increased violence from evil villains who don't want Gotham to go clean. Is the same thing happening to Barack Obama?
As America's superhero president tests his mettle with Congress and the media during these first few months of his presidency, a new breed of nemeses, super-politicians, have risen to defeat him. Take for example ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, Obama’s own Two-Face, who in recent months has been out on the town avenging himself against Illinois’ corrupt political machine.
After FBI wiretaps caught him spewing flagrant language and attempting to sell Obama’s vacant senate seat, Blagojevich has made headlines for his brazen speeches comparing himself to the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, quoting dead English poets, and painting himself as the last defender of the people.
Rather than go gently into that good night, Blagojevich made the daytime and late night talk show rounds, each time affirming his innocence and spreading his larger-than-life political ego across the screen. During Blagojevich’s comically heartfelt impeachment hearing speech, he appealed to the compassion of the state senate’s hardened hearts by reminding them that his only fault was using the office of governor to help people. Since his impeachment, Blagojevich has secured a six-figure book deal, promising to reveal which of his two faces might be the real one.
Or what about Rush Limbaugh? Limbaugh might not technically be a politician, but his madman conservatism has ensured that he--not the GOP’s own party leaders--becomes Obama’s arch-nemesis. Limbaugh’s meteoric fame and media-mongering has risen to untold heights since Obama’s ascension to presidency, leading critics to wonder why this man seems to get more face time than say, House minority leader John Boehner.
Limbaugh’s recent speech at the 2009 CPAC convention asked an overflowing crowd of conservatives to remember the core values of conservatism and fight tooth and nail Barack Obama’s mission “to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation.” It wasn’t Democrats alone who were provoked by Limbaugh’s inflammatory performance. Chairman of the RNC Michael Steele criticized Limbaugh’s performance as “incendiary”, calling him a mere “entertainer.” Then he apologized. What a Joker.
With giant personalities like Obama, Blagojevich, and Limbaugh in the mix, what happens to the politicians who play it safe? Louisiana governor and Republican rising star Bobby Jindal learned the hard way what happens when you toe the party line. Jindal came crashing back to earth after his widely panned response to Obama’s first speech to Congress. While Jindal’s message seemed off the mark, spouting the usual Republican Party criticisms of big government and wasteful spending, it was his underwhelming presence that left the most lasting impression on critics’ minds. Jindal’s super-bad delivery spawned a host of YouTube videos highlighting his Mr. Roger’s-esque speaking style.
The era of new media has little time to waste on play-it-safe politicians. If someone like Bobby Jindal is going to survive in the era of the Super-Politician, his best bet might be to find the nearest radioactive lake and hurl himself in. A cooler haircut wouldn’t hurt either.