Fearing Obama’s Popularity

Beneath the TPM Café headline “Excitement Is Not Hysteria” (11/11/08), critic William Hartung takes on a Washington Post op-ed that gets scary about those celebrations of Barack Obama’s election:

According to Anne Applebaum… the excitement around the world about the election of Barack Obama has reached the point of “mass hysteria.”… She says the following:

Things could get worse, too: Mass hysteria can inspire the world’s crazed assassins, as the RFK analogy shows. This subject is borderline taboo, but I don’t think I was the only one momentarily gripped by terror when Obama walked on to that stage in Chicago: What if something awful was about to happen? In some of the weirder realms of the Internet, you can already find verses from Nostradamus allegedly predicting that Obama’s election heralds the end of the world, and someone out there probably believes them.

While careful to say that “the potential threat to Obama is real enough,” Hartung thinks “the idea that somehow his popularity in and of itself will ‘inspire the world’s assassins’ is as irresponsible as it is illogical,” and instead is “all for calming down and figuring out what can realistically be accomplished in an Obama administration, but the fact that his election inspires people is nothing to sneer at, or to be afraid of, for that matter.”