Holding Barack Obama Accountable
The 2008 Obama presidential run may be the most slickly orchestrated marketing machine in memory. That's not a good thing.
Marketing is not even distantly related to democracy or civic empowerment. Marketing is about creating emotional, even irrational bonds between your product and your target audience. From its Bloody Sunday 2007 proclamation that Obama was the second coming of Joshua to its nationally televised kickoff at Abe Lincoln's tomb to the tens of millions of dollars in breathless free media coverage lavished on it by the establishment media, the campaign's deft manipulation of hopeful themes and emotionally potent symbols has led many to impute their own cherished views to Obama, whether he endorses them or not.
To cite the most obvious example, the Obama campaign cynically bills itself as “the movement”, the continuation and fulfillment of Dr. King's legacy. But the speeches of its candidate carefully limit the application of all his troop withdrawal statements to “combat troops” and “combat brigades”, omitting the six figure number of armed mercenary contractors in Iraq, along with “training”, “counterinsurgency” and other kinds of troops. Obama also presses for an expansion of the US Army and Marines by more than 100,000 troops and a larger military budget even than the Bush regime. The fact that both these stands fly in the face of the legacy of Martin Luther King, and flatly contradict the wishes of most Democratic voters is utterly invisible in the establishment media, and in the discourse of established Black leaders on the Obama campaign. The average voter is ill-equipped to read Obama's statements on these and other issues as closely as one might read a predatory loan application or a jacked up insurance policy, trying to determine exactly what is covered.
Who Will Speak Truth to Power? And When?
But in 2003 Obama was a mere mortal. Now corporate media have made him a rock star, Joshua, a prince on his way to a coronation. Those who raise questions about Obama's commitment to a progressive agenda will have to struggle to be heard. That's just the way it is. They may even have to be impolite at times. That's just the way it is too. Rock stars, royalty and the uncritical adulation they require make little room for polite criticism or democratic discussion.
by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon - February 14, 2008 - posted at www.democraticunderground.com