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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why 2009 Could Eat Barack Obama Alive

Award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki's political documentaries—on topics like Henry Kissinger's alleged war crimes in Asia, or the American military industrial complex—are often depressing affairs.

His first book, The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril, isn't much cheerier, but it does offer activists a blueprint for civic engagement in 2009. He spoke about America's political system recently with Mother Jones.

Mother Jones: You suggest that the American political system makes it difficult for one politician to change our political climate, especially overnight. Could you comment on this in terms of Barack Obama, since so many have high hopes for the president-elect?

Eugene Jarecki: America tends to fall victim to an overzealous belief in the cult of personality. For Americans, history seems to begin way back with Jesus, Mohammad, and Genghis Khan, and then sometime later there is Hitler and Martin Luther King, until we reach George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and now Barack Obama. That is a wrong-headed view of history. Surely the big individuals in our collective history matter, but they are always a reflection of mass movements underneath them.

I think a lot of people see in Barack Obama a chance to feel young again, and that's great, but it's not great if you have an overzealous view of what he alone can do. But I don't want to discourage anyone in any way about Barack Obama. My book is more a blueprint for civic action...


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