Saturday, July 19, 2008

Two Scenarios
One. Obama wins. The landslide majority that elected him along with a lopsided Democratic congress demand the change he promised. They want immediate action on jobs and the economy. They want the troops out of Iraq and America out of the empire business. Their tackle today list also includes energy, health care, the environment, schools, infrastructure.
Obama and the Dems respond positively. They signal their bona fides by initiating withdrawal, citing mounting Iraqi calls for us to clear out. Obama announces global base closings to save money and show foreigners we have no imperial designs on them. In what is called the Obama Overture, he assures democratic Latin leaders that efforts to overthrow their governments will cease to be replaced by cooperation on ending the poverty that drives millions north.
At home, Obama launches a Real Deal of fresh initiatives on the Four E’s--the economy, the environment, energy and education. He says it's time to catch up with the rest of the first world on health care. Some of his proposals seem more practical than others. But people are inspired and energized by the sense that Washington is finally on their side.
Hard times gradually give way to a more rational and balanced prosperity that emphasizes broad well-being over personal consumption. The world seems a bit safer and Americans more hopeful. Obama and the Dems easily win reelection in 2012. We become Denmark with Rockies.

Two. Obama wins. The people who voted for him demand the change he promised. They expect things to happen, but nothing much does. It becomes more and more apparent that Obama, despite his brains, youth, cool and promise, is just another face for business as usual.
People feel betrayed. The angriest among them take to the streets. Obama quickly unleashes the repressive apparatus built up over the Bush years to punish the troublemakers. Mass roundups, disappearances and fear of torture or worse scare potential protesters into quiescence.
The economy sinks further, imperial wars get nastier, the country grows dismal and surly. And, of course, the rich get richer. Comes the 2012 election and Obama is excoriated for the mess. An extreme right wing Republican (possibly an Alaskan yahoo) promising order and military victory, wallops him in the election. We enter a dark age of fascism.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rock Stars, Sure!
Politicians, Are You Kidding?

I personally find the fan mentality stupid and an indicator of an empty soul. Decades ago, I knew and traveled a bit with Bob Dylan, one of the epic icons of my era. I liked his music but not him. Nothing personal. Actors, artists, politicians and the like are obliged to be egotists by the fact that they are their work, and, too often, little more. So unless you are the kind of person who enjoys people who only enjoy themselves, my advice is to enjoy their efforts and otherwise enjoy other friends.
What can be said in praise of the Dylans, Elvises, Brandos and Hemingways, however, is that they give us words, music, fantasies, characterizations and insights that intrigue, entertain and often enlighten us. The world is better for their efforts. On a lesser level, I can even understand Star Trekkies as harmless manifestations of infantilism.
Politics, the joke goes, is showbiz for ugly people. It also provides work for opportunists not quite clever enough to make it in business. In other words, the jerk who was your class president. At worst, politicians make things worse for us; at best, they better themselves while ignoring us. That being the case, I cannot fathom the fan worship for conventional politicians. The hoop-lah for Hillary and the ardor for Obama look to me like falling in love with Wolf Blitzer’s eyeglasses. It’s pathetic. Tens of thousands have shown up to cheer the banal cliches and empty promises of these wind-up grin, by-the-book, off-the shelf solons.
Yes, I know, one’s a woman and one’s more than white. And that’s a big innovation when it comes to one of the last jobs in the country reserved to male caucasians of the christian persuasion.
But, come on. Obama is no Hugo Chavez and Hillary doesn’t even come close to Segolene Royal, who’s a weak socialist, but a kind of socialist nevertheless. No such animals in this country. Neither Hillary up until now nor Obama from now on will utter a word that might bring even a titter of concern from the richest and most reactionary people in this country. Quite the contrary. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Exxon, Boeing, etc., rest content that their chump change investment in Obama will pay for itself billions of times over. Thus the fact of his color means little more than a flicker of national pride and a Guinness entry.
So what are the masses getting hot pants about? It’s not what Obama’s bringing to the show, but what the audience wants to believe about him. He’s a tall, good-looking, hip young guy. He’s bound to do high, handsome, cool and contemporary stuff in the White House. He might even make the war go away and gas get cheaper.
And the Bushies, those money grubbers and bible huggers, they hate his guts and blanch at his brownness. Pissing them off is almost enough to justify a vote for Obama. Still, folks, he's just a politician. And a business as usual one as usual. Save your adoration for the next American Idol.