Monday, January 19, 2009

I liked being fooled by you the first time, Barack Obama, but please don't fool me twice ... or something

Heather Mallick sort of expresses some wariness ... or hope, is it? ... or something anyway:
Barack Obama is making me nervous. "Be the change," his official inauguration poster urges. Until recently I would have done anything the man suggested. But could he be more specific?


I'd expect this amorphous self-improvement sloganeering from inauguration evangelist Rick Warren and his "purpose-driven life." Or from Oprah and her daft "live your best life," but it seems odd coming from a sensible person like Obama.
A sensible person like Obama whose friggin' campaign posters read, simply, "CHANGE". Hmm, good call, Heather. Definite shift in tone there. The Tourettes Syndrome theme has been dropped for complete sentences. Very suspicious. What's smarty-pants up to? Are we to expect that he'll be dropping the "timeless creed" of "Yes we can!" as well for this bizarre and ambiguous Heideggarian formulation? For starters, which does he mean: is it big-b "Be the change" or little-b? Very suspicious.

Ah well, Heather. When in doubt just load up the blunderbuss of your pen and blast your page full of incomplete thoughts, totally inconsistent sentiments, and a lot of banal, semi-coherent wank:

So I should be high on happiness right now, no? The second Gilded Age is dead. People are thinking hard about the health of the planet.

In my own little universe, I finally have the birch tree in my garden I've longed for since childhood. I have eyesight, a pile of new books to read and am hearing rumours about a new nine-inch computer screen for reading big fat newspapers on my lap. That screen might save the industry I work in.

I'm finally teaching the university class I want to teach to the students I want to teach it to. I can spend the year watching Malia and Sasha Obama and their rivers of laughter and curiosity as they explore the White House and the world it opens up.

There will be a new season of Mad Men on TV and Bruce Springsteen has a new album coming out. Much pleasure and interest lies ahead.

Hark at me, trying to pump up enthusiasm in my own personal head. Yes, we were right. The thing is, though, I'd almost rather have been proved wrong.

I feel no triumph whatsoever and the triumphalism of the inauguration poster leaves me wary. It's redolent of wartime. I don't feel giddy. I just feel tired.

Uggh, God! ... Oh, but don't forget the gays!

Obama invited to his inauguration a man (Pastor Rick Warren) who has openly preached that gays are lesser beings, unfit to marry and raise children.

When I initially decided to overlook this politically pragmatic invite, I felt like a bully, which is the worst thing a person can be. It's easy for me to let Obama off the hook on Warren, but then I'm not gay.

That's better.

Still, for all that, I thought this observation inspired:

As for the poster itself, I don't question Shepard Fairey's motives; he's a fine artist whose work was invaluable to the Obama campaign and his Banksy-like aura is entirely of this era.

"All artists are magpies," Fairey rightly says. The poster catches the moment all right. But it reminds me of James Fitzpatrick's classic portrait of Che Guevara, a man who, like many of us including George W. Bush, didn't know when to stop and came to a bad end.

I thought the observation inspired, note, not the manner with which it was expressed. I mean, suggesting that the Butcher of La Cabaña's problem was that he didn't know when to stop is not understatement, it's just complete stupidity.

But there is definitely something to this. And I strongly suspect, now that Ms. Mallick mentions it, that a considerable number of people took their first notice of Obama when the Fairey posters arrived on the scene. "Our very own Che!" and the clatter of dropped acoustic guitars and gaming consoles resounded across the nation. "Our very own t-shirt guy!"

In any case, if Ms. Mallick really wants to know what can be expected of an Obama presidency she would be well advised to read James Delingpole's recent piece in The Spectator:

‘But of course!’ I realised. ‘It’s like May 1997 all over again. Same euphoria. Same sense — even among many Conservatives — that this time it’s different, that this guy’s The One who’s going to change everything. Same subtly bullying, post-Diana’s-death-style atmosphere where if you don’t subscribe to the popular consensus you’re a freak and a cynic and you’re wrong and you should probably be shot.’


Obama, I very much fear, is [Tony] Blair Mk II.
Who, himself, was just an unbelievably efficient Bill Clinton.

So expect a further heaping upon the heap of the self-interested socialism of market democracy (All the riskiest and most irresponsible aspects of free-market economics, with none of the social conservative safeguards!). Conservatives will have to content themselves with sucking on sops à la the Telecommunications Reform Act. Liberals can book their tickets for Community Reinvestment Act II: Revenge of the Killer Community Reinvestment Act!

Rest assured though, that the social degradation, the cultural bankruptcy and the economic despair will know no boundaries of partisanship.

Viva la pesadilla!