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September 05, 2009

Obama Arrangement Syndrome (Mætenloch)

Back in 2003 Charles Krauthammer coined the term ‘Bush Derangement Syndrome’ to describe the onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people to the presidency of George Bush, and by 2007 it was rampant among Democrats. Well neo-neocon has identified a new disorder, ‘Obama Arrangement Syndrome’ which is the tendency of otherwise normal people to distort or ignore events in a manner that reinforces their positive preconceptions about Obama.

In most ways it’s the mirror-image of BDS. With BDS any facts could be cherry picked and/or distorted to guarantee the a priori conclusion that Bush was evil. In OAS it’s assumed that Obama is smart and well-meaning, and any confounding facts must be nuanced-away to protect this conviction.

Neo-neocon first addressed this in her observation about Camille Paglia’s tepid critique of Obama:

…[Y]ou’ll witness a person struggling with the clash of prior beliefs vs. present observations. If Obama is so smart, and good, and well-meaning, then why is he doing all these bad (or stupid, or destructive) things?…Paglia is like a wife who’s found the lipstick on the collar and all the little love notes to another woman, and is still so in love with her husband and so desirous of saving her marriage that she’s struggling against accepting the truth that she’s been betrayed by a stinker.

She explains its prevalence due to the following factors:

1. Cognitive dissonance. People don’t like to admit that they were wrong. Even to themselves.
2. Obama’s likeability and attractiveness. People generally want to like charismatic and attractive people in no small part because it’s easy and satisfying. Swimming against the tide is hard.
3. Obama’s race. People want him to succeed as a way of putting racism in the past. If he were to fail, that would break the narrative in all kinds of uncomfortable ways.

And a lot of formerly-respected pundits seem to have been struck down with a case of OAS. Neocon names Noonan as an example:

A recent Peggy Noonan article offers another example of a writer in the throes of Obama Arrangement Syndrome, although there are indications of the beginning of an emergence for Noonan. She starts the piece by talking, as do so many people with OAS, about the flaws of Obama’s advisers. The idea is that it’s not Obama who’s at fault; he’s just running with a bad crowd, a group Noonan calls young, untried, triumphant, and overpraised (Noonan somehow manages to ignore the fact that Obama chose these people of his own free will).

And she’s not alone. I can think of quite a few people who unexpectedly become enamored of Obama during the campaign – Buckley, Brooks, Parker, etc. - and still haven't let go. It’s one thing to have been wrong, but when you’re busy spinning and making excuses and Charles Johnson-like leaps of logic to somehow exonerate Obama, well, then you might be suffering from OAS.

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posted by xgenghisx at 07:41 PM

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