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!
Labels: Our Guy Obama