What do Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney Jr. have in common? They are forever known as the faces of the classic monsters Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, Phantom of the Opera, and the Wolf Man. Whether you were frightened by these classic representations or the continual evolutionary adaptations that have followed, we all know these monsters when we see them and we all do the same thing when they are thrust into our faces: we take a big step back.
As interesting as the creatures themselves is the construction in how they are perceived. With this in mind, no relevant “monster talk” would be complete without addressing the most prevalent but least identified monsters of today. This identification is made if we are smart enough to expand our minds to enlightened ways of thinking and bold enough to shine our torches into the deepest, dankest recesses in which these illusive modern ghouls take refuge. The problem in the end is that when we finally take a bold look, we are more likely to find a beast with a three-piece suit and briefcase than a creature in rags and chains. In place of ravenous, blood-sucking fangs, we are likely to find smiling faces, stacks of ambiguous laws and a well-manicure hand that can whip out a signature in total darkness. Who are these new slithering, sinister surrogates of evil? Without a doubt it is the modern-day politician.
This is not an indictment of all those who go into this field of public service, rather the recognition of a framing process that takes place where some politicians seem to shine while others are deformed by the monster politician persona. The term “monster politics” serves to describe an environment beyond normal debate and division that highlights the power of the psychological to supersede the theatrical. It is the process by which a politician embraces political circumstances in a way that generates a negative persona, alienating the politician from his or her constituents and creating a dangerous air of unpredictability that is not conducive to future political service. We can appropriately call this the “terminal term,” or the building of the non-re-electable politician. While this is not the inevitable ending point for all who serve in public office, it seems to be the unfolding story of Barack Obama.
For perspective we should understand that all politicians come into office with a certain population that will always oppose them. Equally assured, all presidents through the course of their term have historically made pressing decisions that inflame segments of their own base constituency. Additionally, all presidents fall prey to the occasional faux pas, but monster politics is not evoked from these actions. Like the theatrical characters from which our perception of the monster arises, it is the actions after the critical incident—the bite, curse or lightening-induced creation itself—that frames the individual as the monster we know. It is the same with the president and it is here that Barack Obama, through his own actions, pushes the polls’ numbers of public sentiment toward the dark, dank depths of monstrous non-re-electability.
CNN’s August 4, 2010 poll shows that 27 percent of Americans have doubts that Barack Obama is an American citizen. Also, the most recent Pew Research Poll shows that 18 percent of Americans believe the president is a Muslim. This is a 7 percent increase from 2009 poll results. From Democracy Corps’ July 2010 polling results, 55 percent of Americans think Obama is a socialist and 56 percent think he is too liberal. Arguably, both charges may be one in the same. For Obama supporters it is not just the existence of poll classifications such as these that should be disheartening, but also the fact that Obama’s numbers are increasing in these areas over time.
It is the Obama administration’s inability to deflect, and often its overt actions, which perpetuate these negative attributes that have emboldened the classic monster politics scenario that now surround the president. Is the president a Muslim? Doubtful, but like an overactive Dr. Frankenstein, Obama has created his own monster persona through his own book quotes, Middle East apology tour, anti-Israel stance, and forceful, non-solicited statements such as those recently heard on the issue of the mega mosque fiasco near ground zero in New York. Like the fear and hatred generated by our classic monsters, the motivating force is the same in monster politics. It is the grouping of calamitous actions with alienation and unwanted mysteriousness, the latter two points exacerbating the first, which bring about such negative outcomes.
That is, in simple terms, the monster truly does bad things, but that is not enough to bring about its bad reputation. It must be in combination with personal characteristics that are in opposition with, or simply alien to the general populace, as well as a mysterious nature that creates an environment of unpredictability. Welcome to the world of Barack Obama. With this knowledge there is little wonder why Obama’s two decades of attendance at a radically socialistic church under the tutelage of Reverend Jeremiah Wright fails to give him public identification as a Christian with a growing number of Americans. It is in part a lack of personal Christian identification, if not hostility toward Christian conservatives in America, which has prompted more and more people to speculate Obama as having alternative religious affiliations.
Is Obama an American-born citizen? Probably, but like a vampire that refuses to stand in front of the mirror to be justified, Obama’s secretive, if not deceptive, actions on this important issue breed the mistrust from which caskets are torn open, castles are stormed, moors are patrolled, and approval numbers plunge into the abyss. Is Obama a socialist? The president has done nothing here but reinforce the affirmative by his actions and rhetoric, but even many of the socialists of today have avoided being caught up in the career-ending calamites of monster politics. If the president continues to separate himself from the American people by attitude, rhetoric and policy, he will do more than open the door to more grim conjectures about his future policies and personal character; he will have created his own forever-told horror story of the one-term president from the depths of monster politics.
Paul A. Ibbetson is a former Chief of Police of Cherryvale, Kansas, and member of the Montgomery County Drug Task Force. Paul received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, and is currently completing his Ph.D. in Sociology at Kansas State University. Paul is the author of the books “Living Under The Patriot Act: Educating A Society” and “Feeding Lions: Sharing The Conservative Philosophy In A Politically Hostile World.” Paul is also the radio host of the Kansas Broadcasting Association’s 2008, 2009 and 2010 Entertainment Program of the Year, Conscience of Kansas airing on KSDB Manhattan 91.9 FM, www.ibbetsonusa.com. For interviews or questions, please contact him at? [email protected]