Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Election Business

Plus Ca Change...
Not since Seinfeld has so much money been made about nothing much. This year our uniquely American election industry topped $5 billion in revenues by serving up smears, inanities, thin hopes and cheap thrills. Despite the depression, posh resorts should be chock-a-block with flush campaign operatives this holiday season.
Apart from the couple of hundred thousand spent on Sarah Palin’s duds and do-jobs, the bulk of those spondulicks ended up in the accounts receivable of media companies and, in particular, television stations.
Just as Americans accept financial companies managing their treasury and doling out their health care, they likewise go along with media companies directing their democracy. This makes us different than other first world countries, where doctors manage health care and elections remain a political process, not a business.
Topping the trove of trivialities that marked the campaign was the stunning and serious fact that Americans, who have held on to their racism with a mite more nostalgia than other first world tribes, elected a not entirely white man as their leader. This gave half the country the warm fuzzy wuzzies and the rest a scary case of fear and loathing.
Apart from that notable fact whose repercussions we’ll see as time goes on, the election would have been a soporific were it not for Sarah. McCain could hardly stay awake. And it was noted that had Obama not been part African, he would have been long ago dismissed as a bright but utterly conventional business as usual pol.
There was some embarrassing pretense that Obama and McCain differed on major issues of which they dared not speak much. This game was given up no sooner than the results were announced. McCain bowed gracefully to Obama while Obama made it know that his notion of change stopped pretty much with his presence in the White House instead of George Bush’s.
In an indication of things to come, Obama named as his transition foreign policy honcho the cadaverous Warren Christopher, ill-famed for surrendering Florida to Bush back in 2000, and then picked John Brennan, an architect of the CIA’s torture regime, as his national security transitioner. Obama announced no hard feelings towards Joe Lieberman and indicated that he would treat the crimes of the Bush years with leniency rather than justice.
By such quick and clear moves, Obama was implicitly admitting that his change theme was strictly a campaign ditty. He underlined that by staffing his administration with yet more usual suspects from the Clinton and Bush gangs. A terrific story by the excellent Jeremy Scahill on Alternet tells the sad tale.
Obama may be business as usual, but his problem is that the business has gone bust. The American model of cut-throat capitalism is kaput, victim of its own hubris and greed. For all the neocon fantasies of global domination and Wall Street’s dreams of inflating new bubbles, the fact is that the self-proclaimed world’s greatest country has turned itself into the world’s greatest deadbeat. We have become indigent imperialists, our threats as empty as our wallets.
There are ways out of this mess. Unfortunately for us, none of them involve business as usual, the pretense of change, finding the bottom of the Dow, expecting foreigners to remain obedient, or Americans to stay docile.
The yahoos are already attacking Obama as the father of all evils, including the economic disaster, even before he takes office. The few progressives among us are already losing heart, dismayed by the realization that Barack will bring us just the same old same old. Little likely will change except to get worse for the next four years. Having never had the right and losing the left, Obama will be abandoned by those millions in the middle he leaves in the lurch. He's a one term wonder--unless the Reps come up with a super loser a la Sarah. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m staying short the market and not buying any Barack bonds.