Slate's Tim Noah has introduced a new regular feature called "The Obama Messiah Watch," devoted to "gratuitously adoring biographical details" about Barack Obama. The first item, from the LA Times, quotes a former classmate of Obama's marveling over the conciseness of the notes he took in class ("the pithiest, tightest prose you'd ever see").
Slate has some distance from the fawning it will be serving up. We can tell that Noah is sniggering at the overenthusiasm. Yet these regular features mean something. This one invites us to partake in the adoration of a man. "Bushisms" offers endless examples of another man's supposed stupidity. But Slate is committing to the repeated presentation of Obama as godlike for accomplishing tasks that require skill within the range of mere mortals.
"The Obama Messiah Watch" is ostensibly a fun little feature, highlighting the foibles of people who just love Obama so much. But what Noah fails to talk about is the likelihood that he's picking up evidence of racism. What accounts for amazement to the point of adoration at the fact that a man possesses excellent skill at something like note taking? Is it not that he can do it and he's black? You can laugh at Noah's nuggets of gratuitous adoration, but you ought also to look at them critically and think about the implications.
IN THE COMMENTS: Working on the theory that there's racism everywhere, readers are questioning my use of the word "sniggering"!
MORE: La Shawn Barber had some similar thoughts a few months back.