Sunday, January 27, 2008

Is Obama The Political Equivalent Of "Febreez"?

The whole psychology of marketing in this consumer economy is based on identifying "blemishes"--the insufficiencies, absences, and lacunae of loss and lack; the zits, bad smells, psoriasis scabs which mark us as deficient--in the private, conflicted, insecure, frightened, lonely, empty, craving hearts of the us consumers, and promising fervently (albeit obliquely) that by simply purchasing some product, your skin will clear up, your teeth will get whiter, you will become sexiewr, and you'll get that date with Brad or Suzy, and mebbe even get LAID!

Wahoooooo! Gimme THREE o'dem babies!!!

But what has this to do with Obama? In a clever, thoughtful, generous piece now up on OpenLeft, the commentor Feral cat contributes his thoughts on the prospect of an Obama presidency under this rubric: There is No Staples EASY Button for Economic Justice; Fighting the Man for the Mule. The central purpose of the piece is to interrogate the Obama candidacy in terms of MLK's "Where Do We Go From Here" speech, and King's core question: "Together, for WHAT?" He begins with a discussion of whether Obama's election would satisfy King's "dream," concluding (reluctantly) that it would NOT. Because Obama's campaign is not about the ISSUES that mattered to King, only, perhaps, the appearances: a black man in the WhiteHouse. That, Feral cat, suggests, is NOT enough:
So I voted "No" to the question of having a African American president as somehow the epitome, the apex of Dr. King's and Tom Paine's dream. Yes there is something to be said for symbolism, and yes, we've come a long way, but we have miles to go before we sleep. And the detour we took in 1980 took us down a very low road. Sorry, but we've got to make our way back to the fork in the road and take the high road out of the muck.

We have to get out of the muck and throw off the chains; the chains in our head that reveres the salesmen of Wall Street who sold out the American Dream. The chains in our head that reveres the player over the worker. The chains in our head that gives away our power for some gruel. We have all become slaves to the corporations. And today it is clear from reading economists like Paul Krugman that we can restore dignity and restore decision making to all of us by having universal health care. We will then no longer be slaves to corporations. We can move from job to job freely without fear of losing our health care. And then, what they fear most will happen. The people will like that equality deal. They'll want more of that social democracy stuff that those pesky Europeans have.
He concludes:
Simply put. I Got the faith. I Got the hope. Now for the Love thy neighbor and the love with power part. Power to the People. Let's kick out the Criminal Cannibal Capitalists. Vote Solidarity. Vote for the People. Vote for the Mule. And cut to the revolution.
So well put. The entire essay is really excellent, and it stimulated this reply from me:
"Yes, we can!"
Okay, sure. Can, what, exactly?"
Have hope? Well, okay, cool. Hope in one hand and pee in the other and see which one gets damp. But, whatever floats your boat (so to speak).

Can elect Obama? Mebbe, though that's gonna be lots tougher, cuz there's a huge slice of Middull Murka that is not ready for a black guy with a 'funny' name to be ITS president. They'll come out to vote AGAINST him, I gay-ron-TEE it...

Come together?
Together, for what?
Aye, there's the rub.
With a platform of Universal health care, increased social security benefits, better educational opportunities, social and economic justice? Reparations? Reduced militarism? Rolling back resegregation? All of it?

¡No va a suceder! Nicht wahrscheinlich! Nagahapun.
And not only is he not gonna talk about it, he's not gonna be able to da anything about it, either, without a sympathetic super-majority in Congress. The most wildly optimistic estimates don't give the Dems anywhere near (a reliable) 60 votes.

Because as soon as Obama even so much as HINTS at any such actual agenda ("Power to the People. Let's kick out the Criminal Cannibal Capitalists. Vote Solidarity. Vote for the People. Vote for the Mule. And cut to the revolution." Yeah, shit like dat!), he'll become as 'electable' as Dennis Kucenich is adjudged to be. He'll become the "candidate of (hint/wink/nudge) "special interests" ("knowwadImean? knowwadImean?") He'll incur the entire weight of the disprobation of the corpoRat media, he'll lose his "magic."

With every speech of his, each utterance of which is brimming with style, and form, warmth, and charm--but is utterly devoid of programmatic ideas, plans, actual agendas, etc.; you know, the real stuff for which a candidate is elected, the real change behind the rhetoric--I become more and more convinced that Obama's just another shiny object, about as actually useful and as durable as a new ipod, designed by the oiligarchs, marketed by the pollutocrats, owned by the elites, but aimed at the masses, as yet another feel-good accessory; the hip, with-it, consumable president.
Like Febreez for the political system, he won't be able to accomplish anything; that's not what he'll be there to do. But he'll make us all feel sooooo much better about how our White House smells.


Anonymous said...

Better him than yet another Clinton. I'd prefer Edwards, but the media has already decided that he never will be president.

Besides, the Yankees & Cowboys have decided that our president will always be named either Clinton or Bush, so you can look forward to 8 years of Hillary followed by 8 years of Jeb followed by 8 years of Chelsea followed by...

Hecate said...

I'd rather have Clinton than Obama. His jebuzjebuzjebuz talk just turns me off.

Mr. Pelican said...

As you pointed out, nothing will be done ala internal economic policies, because the president, whoever it is, will not have the necessary majority to push anything through, (even supposing the 535 members grew some cajonesto do it, which they won't, because to do this would piss off their corporate owner. It'll never happen.) However, what a president might be able to do is to curb the excesses of zeal which have eroded our civil liberties, perhaps putting a band-aid on the deeply avulsed constitution. This is something which needs no approval from anyone, thanks to the NitWit in Chief's 7.125's years of illegal expansion. However, even this seems unlikly. The exec. has NEVER ceded power back to the legislative branch, once it has co-opted it; NOT ONCE in 232 years! So really, the end result will be , eventually, a dictatorship with a token nod to "democracy". Possibly a democratic president might end our involvment in the illegal war in Iraq,,,,, maybe, if she/he can get Oil's approo........ well , some much for that idea. Ok, so nothing;s gonna change! Happy ?! Shit. I just depressed myself.

Woody (Tokin' Lib'rul/Rogue Scholar & O'erall Helluvafella!) said...

smahht anarysis, Mistah P! veyyy smahht!

Sparkle Plenty said...

I like Obama. I think he's more than some shiny bauble pr a waft of Febreez (though I love the metaphor). I agee with his analysis that we can't begin to advance a progressive agenda until we believe we are capable of creative responses to great challenges again.

Which is not saying that I don't think he has an agenda or long-range goals to upset the status quo. His foreign policy team sounds pretty interesting; like Edwards he has a healthcare proposal that has the potential to evolve into a universal, single-payer. And all signs I've seen point to his commitment to democracy, to getting people to grapple with issues themselves and through informed action, assert control of our government again.

The world has changed for both good and ill since the last time ideals challenged us and out government. I'm eager to see what ideals without illusions might accomplish this time round.

Take care out there . . .