Thursday, September 27, 2012

We Were Fucked from the Moment We Elected the Movie Actor

Late last week I saw what I thought was a very funny political post on a libertarian, Ron Paul supporting “doomer” blog. The essence of the post was that Obama is a terrible president because he is unqualified for the job and as proof it served up examples of how he spends more time playing golf and on vacation than he does running the country. Part of the reason I found it so amusing was that liberals and progressives used to say almost the exact same things about Chimpy Bush when he was the prez-nit. But more importantly, I found it funny because as evidenced by the post itself and the reader comments, many of these “realist” libertarian types still seem to be suffering under the delusion that the president actually runs the country.

Let’s cut to the chase and state right upfront who Obama really is: a snake oil salesman. He’s a the Wizard of Oz, with an image-perfect little family right out of central casting from the old Cosby Show, hired by the billionaire scumbags who really run the country to make America’s unceasing addiction to big business, war and empire palatable to enough of the ignorant, stupid masses to prevent serious civil unrest from breaking out. The American Hologram, as our old friend the late author Joe Bageant described the American media, maintains an ironclad grip on the thoughts and opinions of a vast majority of the population—and Obama is the vital cog that maintains the illusion that an elected official is still in charge of the country.

It wasn’t always like this. Throughout history, Americans have often complained about the Tweedledee and Tweedledum nature of the two party system, in which the choices on election day often seem to be between the “lesser of two evils.” But believe it or not, there was a time when the president WAS an independent actor who could be a fearsome opponent to anyone, even a Wall Street titan, who opposed him. Teddy Roosevelt and his staid successor, William Howard Taft, energetically smashed the old monopolistic trusts, which was the first great blow the federal government ever struck on behalf of the common people in the age of the corporation. Teddy's cousin, FDR, was hated as “a traitor to his class” for enacting the New Deal, which was a main pillar that supported the creation of a robust middle class after World War Two. Flash forward another few decades, and whatever else you might want to say about them it would be very difficult to argue that there was little difference between George McGovern and Richard Nixon in 1972, or even Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Speaking of Reagan, as I’ve stated here before it was his election that was really the turning point that started America down this long road to perdition. President Bonzo had a unique ability to appeal to superficial patriotism and cultural divides to get working and middle class people to vote against their economic interests—in other words the former Hollywood actor was also a great SALESMAN. By all accounts, Reagan himself was disinterested in the mechanics of being president, and turned much of the detail work over to his subordinates. In that dynamic, we see the first emergence of the President as a cipher, the man whose most important job is to sell policies that were designed by his puppetmasters. Reagan’s massive electoral success despite his manifest unfitness for the presidency was all the proof the oligarchs needed that they could seize total control over the political process if they could find just the right “useful idiots.”

After Reagan, Daddy Bush and Bill Clinton may have been a bit more their own men than The Gipper, but by the time we reached the disastrous administration of George Bush the Lesser the process of making the president little more than a figurehead fronting for those who put him in office was almost complete. Obama just closed the loop by becoming the first Democratic president to be a total stooge of those who have anointed him as “the one.”

And that’s where we stand today. Six weeks before the election, it appears from how the majority of the fat cat contributors’ campaign contributions are now shifting away from Romney to Obama that the powers that be have decided that President Hopey-Changey is a more effective salesman for their agenda than the hopelessly inept Governor 47%-er could ever hope to be. Obama may not have been a Hollywood actor, but he learned how to say his lines and hit his marks a long time ago, and wouldn’t be where he is today if he hadn’t.

Bonus: In retrospect, we'd have been better off electing Reagan's male co-star.


  1. I don't know about Bonzo, but I'd definitely vote the Tarzan-Cheetah ticket ...

  2. I think you might be letting Joe Public off the hook a bit here, BH. The American public wanted a figurehead to tell them what they wanted to hear every bit as much as the proverbial "puppetmasters" wanted to give them one.

    Jimmy Carter, flawed though he was, tried to hint at the truth in his famous "malaise" speech (in which he never actually used that word), and was severely punished for it by the voting public. No savvy politician of either party ever forgot that lesson.

    The American middle and working classes got Reagan and his ilk because that's what they wanted. They are entirely complicit in their own economic and cultural destruction. When assessing our current state, there is much more to learn from Willy Loman (since you mention salesmen) than Ronald Reagan, who would be deemed a left-leaning moderate by today's standards. Reagan was a mere sympton of the conformist, wealth-worshipping, status-marker-obsessed nature of our culture that artists like Miller and Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis identified decades before he came to office. This ideology remains strong today, particularly among the generations that came of age in the three decades after WW2, though at last we may be seeing some cracks in the facade.

    The phrase you coined, "Spoiled Rotten Nation," is a brilliant summing up of where we really stand.

    1. Check back on Saturday as I have a post in the works blasting a specific member of "Joe Public." :)

  3. I wouldn't let Joe Public off the hook, and I'm including myself there. However, for many years I found it quite possible to live more-or-less oblivious to the reality so cleverly summed up in this post. I hated Reagan, I hated what happened to Carter, but I didn't really understand the full dimensions of mendacity from the corporate oligarchy, the completely ruthless dominance of the military/industrial complex, and I certainly didn't recognize the imminent, existential threat of overshoot - whether it's considered to stem from population growth, resource extraction, habitat destruction or pollution.

    In fact, I probably still wouldn't know except it has become much easier to get real information on the internet.

    My point is, without exculpating Joe Public entirely, we are methodically, systematically, and deliberately lied to, and it takes some glimmer of that, from whatever source, to spur a personal effort to find out the truth.

    And then it's there in all its horrible banality.

    1. Gail I include myself too, and I should have mentioned that in my comment above. I was just another Lomanesque Planglossian nincompoop until a few short years ago, and it took some professional setbacks to help me see the light. Lotta good it's done me. :)

      Looking forward to the next post re. "Joe Public," BH. (Raising a toast to St. Joe Strummer for that term!)

  4. Good post. It's hard to point to any one thing and say that's when things went wrong. There are a lot of factors, and some started well before Reagan.

    But my symbolic turning point is during Reagan, too. When he tore the solar panels off the roof of the White House, it was the symbolic end of even the slimmest chance we had at heading off the peak events and minimizing the environmental damage within the industrial system.

    But "the American way of life is non-negotiable", and that was that. I agree with HueyLewis, the public is an all-too-willing supporter of the Hologram. This is a collective problem. We voted for delusion over reality.

    To boot with Reagan we gave free market ideology free reign at the exact time that globalism was technically possible.

  5. Y'all are forgetting 'In Like Flint', which had the following bit of satire, which followed with life imitating, um, art. Anyway, I just wish life would follow through with the feminine takeover, so I could use another great line from this movie about women. 'I don't compete with them.' If you never saw this movie, which was pretty popular, you never heard the audience roar at the actor bit, clearly aimed at Reagan, who failed in his first run. Note also the mention of Red Scare. Again, great piece Bill.

    The indomitable Derek Flint returns to save the world, this time from a bevy of beauties who simultaneously raise the ire of the world's women while replacing powerful males with surgically-altered substitutes (leading to, perhaps, the most prescient line of dialogue in any 1960s film--upon discovering that the man in the White House is not who he seems to be, a disbelieving Flint says, "An actor as president?"). That is, until a renegade ZOWIE general (Steve Inhat) decides it's his turn to take the reins of power. The delightful Lee J. Cobb is back as Flint's curmudgeonly boss, Cramden, as are the secret agent's posse of female admirers, and TV's Batgirl, Yvonne Craig, even shows up as a Russian ballerina. "In Like Flint" feels more grown up than the previous film, partly because the lighting and cinematography are more stark and partly because the humor is sometimes more rooted in satire than parody. Notions like the Red Scare being a feint to the very real dangers of corruption from within and the beauty industry actually having our worst interests in mind--and charging a premium for them--are slipped in with more obvious gags involving oversized eyebrows, cross-dressing, and the bouncing sing-a-long ball.

  6. My parents voted for Carter in 1980, and were very sympathetic to the speech. History has proved my parents' judgement correct. My mother now gets to worry about how her grandchildrens' lives are going to turn out after seeing videos by Chris Martenson.

    I read blog posts by the likes of Orlov, Kunstler and Greer, and do what I can for my family. Most of my friends go on with their lives. They are still doing okay or very well. At this point, seems the best thing to do is vote for the Green Party, do what you can for those close to you, and enjoy what's left of our energy shindig.