Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Drum Majorette

When I was a sophomore in high school there was this beautiful senior in my geometry class. She was the drum majorette for the marching band. Long dark hair. I still remember how on those warm spring days I would look at the back of her head across the classroom and get these uncontrollable erections that high school boys get on warm afternoons. When there were parades in my town she'd be marching out in front leading the band, kicking those legs in the air, thrusting her scepter high. She'd do these powerful movements with the scepter that appeared to mean something, although I didn't know what they meant. She had one of those big hats like the beefeaters have. With a chin strap. Her outfit was small, short and tight. She'd kick her knees up in the air. She had white boots. She was a gorgeous young woman. Back then I loved parades.

Years later I got to know her more personally and, sparing you the sordid details, she wasn't all that I presumed she was. This recollection reminds me of Obama. Not that he looks gorgeous. And not that he's not all that he was cracked up to be, although that's certainly true. It's just that, although he is in the front of the parade, he's not leading it. Karoline, that was her name, couldn't decide to make a turn and take the parade down, say, Atlantic Street instead of Broad Street. The parade route had already been decided. She had no say in the matter. If she had decided to march down Atlantic Street she would have done so alone; and would have had to have turned in that tight little uniform and scepter to some school official the next Monday. It was an illusion that she was leading anything. She was just in front of the parade. She was actually following the parade route.

The difference between Obama and the typical Republican in Washington, D.C. is that after he screws the working class once again he says, "I feel your pain." Whoops, you say, wasn't that the last Democratic President before Obama? Well, it was him too. I'm an old guy, old enough that there are pictures of me crawling around on all fours from the Truman Administration. What I have seen over the course of my life is a trend of Democratic Presidents going further and further to the Right and being apologetic for the screwing that Democratic constituents get. Of course, you say. But why? The last survey I saw had a little under two-thirds of all Americans wanting us out of Afghanistan. You would think that such a sentiment would be grabbed by some political party. A President could be popular with Americans and save a trillion or so dollars too. And a few lives. Considering how unpopular that war is with Democrats, why is Obama deaf to this? (You'll notice I'm not condemning him here, I'm asking why.) The same can be said about the deficit, the budget, healthcare, whatever. Obama starts the negotiating point much farther to the right than his voting constituency. Why? Right now I can go to the comments sections to articles in my local papers and find reactionary Republican commenters angrily accusing Obama of all the things that Bush (also) did.

One popular reactionary meme is that Afghanistan is now Obama's war. They are right, but their criticism is mostly useless because they seem to be attacking Obama because he's a Democrat, or he's black, or he's a quote-socialist-unquote. The same posters who were all for TSA scrotum searches under Bush now are shocked, shocked I say about the TSA patdowns. A more interesting dynamic is how many of the Democrats react, because many feel obligated to defend Obama. When Bill Clinton was allowing the mega-mergers of our media, gutting welfare, pushing GATT, NAFTA et al to destroy the American working class, and signing off on deregulating banks (thus bringing us the Depression of 2008), in short, behaving like a Republican, what were people arguing about? The blowjob in the Oval Office that Bill Clinton got from (probably) an intelligence operative. Think about it. While millions of Dems argued about why it's nobody's business who was doing what with Bill, our dear President was selling the Democratic base down the river. Now many Democrats find themselves arguing against even more insane rhetoric. I mean, how do you discuss rationally the finer points of healthcare to someone who's against last year's bill because Obama is a socialist/Marxist/liberal/fascist/Kenyan agent planted to create death panels to kill good white Americans? At least Clinton's blowjob was more reality-based. At some point early on in the Obama Administration it became obvious to me that not only is this guy not in charge, he's only pretending to be in charge. He's the guy in front of the parade but the parade route is already drawn up.

Here's another metaphor that came to me: American politics is professional wrestling. It's not real. Since I came to this realization I've been less angry at Obama or Bush. Or Clinton. Or Bush I. Or Reagan. They're all actors. They wouldn't get the role if they couldn't act. They know how to follow the parade route. What I am saying is that America is no longer a democracy. Not when you get to Washington, D.C. In an old Henry Miller essay, the one from the book Black Spring where he coins the term "Coney Island of the mind," Miller describes the world as pasteboard. You think it's real but it's not. That's our democracy. Our elections are fixed, like professional wrestling matches. Oh, not local elections. But the farther up you go, the more likely good people are weeded out of the political process and actors are put in. Look! Here comes the parade!



At April 14, 2011 3:37 AM, Blogger Mimi said...

Yes, Bob, it's all theatre. I have a dear friend who is a passionate pro-peace person and she is CONVINCED that O. has just temporarily lost his way/is helpless at the hands of his evil subordinates/will soon unveil his plan to remedy all our problems...and so on and on. There's no way in the world anybody will convince her O. is just as slimy a lying bastard as any other politician. Multiply that by millions of other dems and see what we're up against.

At April 14, 2011 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Democrats never were noble. They've always been like this.

Congratulations on finally realizing it.

At April 14, 2011 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karl, I didn't ever use the word "noble" and I didn't use "all" and I didn't use "always".

In fact, over my lifetime the Republicanization of the Democratic Party has been a process. If you are unable to see this and cannot tell the difference, however slight, between parties, politicians and so forth, you might as well spend all your time watching sports, where at least there are different teams and different uniforms.

At April 14, 2011 9:24 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Welcome back Bob. While I'm inclined to think that Obama(or any president nowadays) isn't quite as powerless as you suggest, I agree with your distinction between local and regional politicians, on the one hand, and the national level ones on the other. Or at least, I hope that distinction is still valid.

At April 14, 2011 10:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's nothing I'm "unable to see," Bob.

You should look in the mirror when you erroneously accuse me thus.

You're the one who has constantly defended a Noble Democratic Party from a Bygone Era.

I was congratulating you on actually moving forward somewhat, but you seem destined to backtrack and suggest there was indeed a time of a nobler, better-than-Republicans party of Democrats.

And I'm saying, that era never was, except in the minds of the partisan pro-Democrat people.

Lesser-evilism is for people who pretend at subtle nuance for social cachet purposes, but when the chips are down, they're as grossly black-and-white as those who operate on a 70-point Stanford-Binet.

Again, congratulations on some forward progress. Let's hope you can realize that the fond romantic memories of a bygone Donkey Party are nothing more than fond romantic memories, and not an accurate recall.

At April 15, 2011 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob In Pacifica again.

Jonathan, maybe we only disagree on how tight the leash is. But do you really think that the corporatists who go to those forty thousand-dollar a plate dinners in Silicon Valley would be so chummy if Obama, for instance, announced plans to rebuild a tariff policy to save American manufacturing jobs? I believe that there are more insidious reins on America's politicians, but even from a point of view of who Obama kowtows to, foregoing the DLC base, which is pretty close to the mainstream Republican base (not talking about wingnuts here), would be political suicide. How do you think the "mainstream" media would report on Obama if he wanted to dismantle those broadcast monopolies?

Like I mentioned above, I also think that there are more insidious controls on politicians, in this day and age EVERYONE can be blackmailed and smeared and that's always good for losing five to ten points of popularity.

Karl, once again you bring up "noble" Democrats. You are creating a strawman where none is needed. Today's Democratic Party is too much like the Republican Party. But I would still take, say, Barbara Boxer over Carly Fiorina. If you can't see a difference then that's an admission of your monochromatic vision of the world. Myself I'd choose FDR over Reagan. And while it's true that you can compare anything with anything and find similarities, a President who recognizes and legitimizes unions is better than a President who destroys them. At least in my book if not yours.

The kind of false parallelism that is often seen among the Left (I am reminded of Chomsky once writing that it didn't matter who shot JFK because he was as bad as all the others in our ruling elite and nothing would have been different in the future) essentially presents a position of a smug moral superiority (as well as a presumption of being able to predict the future) For others less brilliant than Chomsky it's an excuse to never examine but only complain. If I wrote that it doesn't matter who shot Karl Franz Ochstradt because he repeats coarse Marxist banalities and adds nothing to the discussion I should be rightfully condemned. Besides, your loved ones might want to know who shot you.

Back to Jonathan. Try to imagine a Democratic candidate (someone like Kucinich) actually winning the Democratic Party nomination. I'd love to see it happen but under the current rules of the game I don't see it.

At April 15, 2011 12:05 PM, Anonymous ms_xeno said...

What Kucinich would have to do to win would render him utterly useless to anyone who votes with a sincere desire for meaningful change.

In fact, he's already done it, on a national level, by kowtowing repeatedly to various and sundry "Drum Majorettes," starting with that creep Kerry.

When I think back on how I actually wasted time and money once upon a time thinking that the dude was looking out for me, I could scream. Kucinich looks out for the party and for Kucinich. That's pretty much it. There's no point in endorsing somebody like that or arguing about their relative goodness, no matter how pretty they talk.

Kucinich may believe, in his heart of hearts, that he's looking out for me. However, his function in the system is to keep us immobilized and imprisoned in the Democratic Party. Results are what matter. There's no reason for me to give a fuck at this point about what's going on in the heads of the "Majorettes" and their horn-blowers while they perform. It's immaterial.

That ol' Dennis is a friendlier guy than some random Republican would be in the same post is likely still relevant to the people of Ohio, but at the national level I don't think that it really means shit.

At May 09, 2011 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

<< Home