Sunday, November 9, 2008

Obama Whiplash, Explained

A lot is being written about right now on what's being called the "Obama Whiplash" effect.

If you're not already familiar with it, it's the supposedly incongruous phenomenon whereby people who did not avidly support Mr. Obama, or even vote for him last Tuesday, are now reveling in the win and saying great things about their hopes for our new President-elect and what his victory means for the nation and the world.

Many conservative commentators are being called out by name for it, with the implication that they're effectively fair-weather fans, that they just want to be on the winning team, or on the right side of history, etc.

I don't find anything hypocritical or incongruous about it.

1. Not everyone supported then-Senator Obama's policy stances.

2. Therefore, they supported another candidate.

3. Senator Obama's victory ends the fact that there was a partisan election. He's now the President-Elect, so there's no point in maintaining a pre-November 4 mindset. That's like having a March 18, 2003 mindset concerning Iraq when you ought to have an [insert present date] mindset.

4. There's a lot to be excited about regarding the way the world -- and much of America -- sees his victory. Plus, there's the usual excitement of anything new -- i.e. the fact that for the first time in many of our lives, there's no one named Bush or Clinton in the White House.

To me, the so-called "Obama Whiplash" effect is a great thing, and it just shows how this country understands when to be partisan (before an election), and when not to be (afterwards). Plus, it shows that people understand all the ancillary benefits of President-Elect Obama's win, all policy positions aside.


Matt said...

The incongruity, though, is that for many of the "whiplashers" they weren't attacking him on substantive policy arguments. They were calling him un-American and accusing him of palling around with terrorists. (And please don't think I'm excusing some of the ageist and classist shit that the Obama campaign flung at McCain).

What makes it hypocritical to me is that some Republicans and Democrats (Gov. Palin, Sen. Lieberman) who were questioning his fitness to lead and his very patriotism are now praising, in the words of Michelle Bachman, "the tremendous signal we've sent."

I agree it's encouraging and common-sensical that partisanship should be put aside, especially after a hard fought election. But for those who sought to villainize Obama on personal grounds as opposed to political ones, and now seek to praise him for those same things... it just seems a little disingenuous to me.

The New Englander said...


That's a great distinction to make, and reading your reply definitely gave me that "Damn, I wish I had said that" feeling. You're right -- if someone's reason for not supporting Obama was not based on a principled policy stance (i.e. pro-lifers or those who passionately want to ensure our commitment to Iraq) but instead based on some kind of ad hominem b.s., it is a bit of a curious switcheroo to go from "this guy is unfit to lead" to "this is the greatest thing ever" in literally one day.

I was talking about this with a buddy on the phone today (Ben Rattray, the guy who runs agreed with your points, and added that for all the moderates in the middle (no matter which way their vote came down), it's a total non-issue; all can be happy for the victory, period.

I don't often give Rush Limbaugh credit for anything (doesn't he define the word hypocrite)? but at least he's one voice from the Far Right who stayed consistent vis-a-vis Obama -- pre-, during- and post-election.