Naomi Klein nails brand "Obama"

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 08:00

Amy Goodman had a really sparkling interview with Naomi Klein this week, with a major focus on climate justice and the upcoming Copenhagen summit.  But here I want to focus on something Naomi said that I think perfectly captures an aspect of the problem I've always had with Obama--the lack of any there there, which she explained culturally as follows:

AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein, I wanted to talk specifically about the kind of branding that you begin your introduction with in No Logo at Ten, how branding has changed. Give us some specifics.

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I mean, it's-it always-branding is expert at absorbing its opposition. So, I gave a couple of examples of companies that had gone "no logo," an example of Absolut vodka taking their label, their logo, off the bottle. And Starbucks opened, interestingly in Seattle, a store without their brand on it at all. They're trying to make their brand disappear. So, you have this evolution in corporate branding.

But, what I decided to focus on is not how corporate-the latest gimmicks and techniques of corporate branding, but, rather, how politicians were-and, indeed, how government has absorbed the techniques honed by the corporations in the '90s in creating and selling their super brands. And now they're being used by political parties, by politicians really, to sell themselves.

And I'm afraid, I think, that that's where Obama fits in, that he really is a super brand on line with many of the companies that I discuss in No Logo. And he has many of the same problems as the companies that I discuss in No Logo, like Nike and Apple and all of these-Starbucks-all of these, sort of 1990s, sort of, lifestyle brands that co-opted many of the, you know-the iconography of the transformative political movements like the civil rights movement, the women's movement. And that was really the hallmark of 1990s branding.

One of the things in this-you know, a large part what I write about in No Logo is the absorption of these political movements into the world of marketing. And, you know, the first time I saw the "Yes, We Can" video that was produced by, my first thought was, you know, "Wow. A politician has finally produced an ad as good as Nike that plays on our, sort of, faded memories of a more idealistic era, but, yet, doesn't quite say anything." We think we hear the message we want to hear, but if you really parse it, the promises aren't there, it's really the emotions.

And, you know, I think that that explains in some sense the paralysis in progressive movements in the United States where we think, Obama stands for something because we-our emotions were activated on these issues, but we don't really have much to hold him to because, in fact, if you look at what he said during the campaign, like any good super brand, like any good marketer, he made sure not to promise too much, so that he couldn't be held to it.

Afghanistan is a very strong example, Amy. I mean, it's hard to build the case that Obama is breaking a campaign promise when, in fact, this-he is doing what he said he would do during the campaign, even if he made us think that he was a pro-peace candidate, even if he used the iconography, the imagery of the peace movement, even if he, you know-it's the same thing with labor. "Sí se puede. Yes we can." This is the imagery of, this is the slogan of the farm workers. Even, you know, Obama's-you know, the famous poster, you know, this is like the poster of Ché, but this isn't a real social movement because it never made those transformative demands.

And that's what social movements have to do. We have to get back to basics, Amy. And we'll see it in Copenhagen.

I think Naomi nails it precisely, but there's something more worth adding.  The results of social protest movements are always far more popular than the movements themselves.  This is just a flat-out historical fact. You can see it in polling questions that ask about public attitudes, such as:

Paul Rosenberg :: Naomi Klein nails brand "Obama"
As the chart above shows, four years after Martin Luther King's death, over 43% of those asked by General Social Survey agreed stongly that Negroes (later 'blacks' and 'African-Americans') "shouldn't push themselves where they're not wanted"--compared to just over 10% who disagreed strongly. As late as 1985, after King's birthday had been made a national holiday, 25.1% still agreed strongly, compared to just 17.8% who disagreed strongly, and the total who agreed outnumbered those who disagreed by almost 3 to 2.  There was a break of nine years after that, and 1994 was the first year in which more people disagreed than agreed.

In sharp conrast to that history of opposing those who "pushed themselves"--and who pushed more than civil rights leaders like King?--nowadays everyone likes to pretend otherwise. The most extreme case is today's GOP, that wants to pretend that MLK was one of their own. Everyone wants to pretend that MLK was one of their own.  But nobody wants to hear his words. "I have a dream."  That's it.  That's all they want to hear. And the imagery is a way to pretend to become King, without ever having to listen to anything at all, without ever having to feel the least bit uncomfortable.

Of course, we expect that from the GOP.  But Naomi Klein reminds us that we too have now become swept up in the feelgood forgettey or what the struggle was all about.

Just watch the video again, and you too can pretend that you were one of the 10% that was on the right side of history four years after King was assassinated.  You, too, can pretend, as the bombs fall on Afghanistan.

If Jesus can become a war god, then why not King as war prophet?  Que the video, one more time.

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great post (0.00 / 0)
I think, though, the issue is slightly more complicated than laid out.  There is a question of cause and effect - is the political brand open and allow space to move forward (from a progressive stand point) or is it regressive and move backwards (again, same vantage point).

From 1970s through 2008, you had political brands (i.e. ideology through corporate/media/imperialist hegemony) that were regressive in what they promised.  Reagan of course comes to mind.  But they laid the groundwork for massive political, economic, and social changes - destructive ones.  

Now, we have a brand that overpromised - if he didn't, he wouldn't have been elected.  So that tiges the space to battle, as you pointed out, and that is why those of us who walked in with open eyes were willing to allow ourselves to elect him.

So now we get what we get - we get the delivery of virtually identical policy on many fronts - but we also get the promise that change can happen - and the relaity that it's not going to come from the top - and those two things enable the impetus behind a progressive movement to come about.

So in that sense, there is a distinct difference in the substance of brand Obama, even if there is not a distinct difference in the form it took (the political brand).  It implicitly implies sharp criticism, a distrust of politics an power, and a resort to working with ordinary people.  There is, as Klein points out, no reason to have ever believed on rational grounds that Obama as a public figure going to promote the kind of change we wanted, but there was and is reason to believe that he allows us to struggle for change, with or without him  - depending on how he wants to go down in history.   And more pertinently, to move forward in these 4-8 years so that in the NEXT 4-8 years, we can start having the kinds of things we want.

this still leaves a lot of problems, but I think it is important to point out a (possible) dichotomy, at least as much out of respect to most of us who are quite clear about what marketing is and that we can operate as consumers and as believers at the same time as it is a call for caution in expecting too much.

"overpromised"? What was so "over" about those promises? (4.00 / 3)
It were reasnobale points, ambitious, but not impossible to accomplish. It wasn't as if he promised the voters the sun and the moon, something impossible to accomplish. If he made those promises simploy to get elected, so be it, that's still no sufficient reason for breaking them.

So, sry, doc, but I'm totally against using "overpromised" in this regard. There was nothing over the top with the promises, and he has to be held accountable for his failure, obviously based on the lack of willing, to fulfill them. Saying he "overpromised" isn't correct, and includes to much of an excuse for him. He defrauded the people, pure and simple.

[ Parent ]
"hope" and "change" (4.00 / 3)
the promise in the brand is different from the literal rendering of the words.  So we could take the promise from the brand use it, while anticipating that the same old 'wrong war, not anti-war' attitudes would prevail in the policymaking.

It seemed to be the only way out.

Nothing I am saying should be taken to mean that he should not be held to account for his failures - however, it is hard to blame a politician who told you he would take you to war after you vote for him and then say that he promised that he wouldn't.  He exploited us, in his gentle way, and now it is up to us to exploit his brand.

Part of that means framing criticisms against him with that promise in mind- the promise of hope and change and a relief from 15-30 years of class war by the rich - you attract more voters and ordinary people with respect and humility than you do with verbal violence or cynicism.

I'm not saying I'm good at practicing this all the time - I'm just posing it as a general way of moving forward.  What we need is an Obama-equivalent for the progressive movement - someone who will be a hero for us, not for 'the electorate' as a whole.  The Colbert-at-the-press-corps or the Amy Goodman on air or the Naomi Klein in her work or the Ralph Nader calling Bush a corporation or something along those lines.   But better - we haven't had it yet, but when we do, it will be clear that it's there, if we do.

[ Parent ]
Ok, but what does it help him that he can point at his quotes... (4.00 / 3)
...and argue that he never really promised anything concrete? His constituency isn't in a mood for lginguistic games, and will still hold him accountable for the failure of what they believe to be the HOPE and CHANGE he spoke about. See, it wouldn't help Absolut a little bit if they only promised to deliver pure, high quality vodka if the first time buyers would be disappointed with the actual content of that nice looking bottle. It doesn't matter that Absolut has never been specific about the ingredients, customers wouldn't buy that argument, and the brand.

Same thing with Obama. He knew what people made of his promises, he didn't correct the false impression, he is responsible for the buyers' anger.

[ Parent ]
the difference is that you can draw a distinction between obama's brand and his policies (4.00 / 1)
and thereby win over people to progressive politics rather than obama politics.

"war in afghanistan - that's not what hope and change means to me."
"bailouts for the banks and no hope for the people?"
"he was right about the hope and the change, but he's not doing enouhg to make it real - let's support people who will."

you see?  it doesn't help you on the narrow policy front at the top, but unless you're someone with as much power as dick cheney or joe biden or joe lieberman or hillary clinton or the ceo of goldman sachs, you weren't going to get much of a hearing there anyway.  what you do get is the grounds on which to mobilise large numbers of people into a movement - ordinary people, middle class people, working class people, people in other contries, etc.  he's laid out the values, and we can promote them.

[ Parent ]
But that's a bit as if Smirnoff would argue: "Disappointed by Absolut? (4.00 / 1)
Try Smirnoff! We do have the real thing."
Yeah, sure, some customers who still haven't given up on finding the best vodka would buy this, but there sure are many who have reached the point where they say "D'oh! They're all one and the same. I'll never believe any Wodka brand's adertising again. And, anyway, staying away from alcohol is much better for my health"

That may be an explanation why there isn't that big inflow into the progressive movement that should be there according to your theory. Not to speak of that the marketing of the brand "progressive" is, uh, let's say suboptimal, anyhow.

[ Parent ]
And also, some may simply abandon vodka, and buy Ron Bacardi instead! (4.00 / 1)
Or whisky McDouglas, or something.

Who says that buyers don't turn against vodka in general after their disappointing experience, and change altogether to other stuff? To a certain point, such a letdown will not only taint one brand, but the whole category...

[ Parent ]
well i think the point i'm trying to make is (0.00 / 0)
if you choose between smirnoff and vodka, you're going to end up with a hangover.  on the other hand, if you resurrect your life, talk to your friends, decide to do something else, and tell both smirnoff and vodka to fuck off (even if one is better than the other), then you'll end up better off.

so it's tangibly better to have people in power who won't call you a monster and repress / discredit you for saying so.  power never gives except when you demand from it.  the public option didn't come from anyone's beneficence, and neither did the vote on sanders' amendment for a surtax on the rich during the bailout debate - they happened because people - ordinary people - were willing to put a lot of work into it.

just like labor rights, just like civil rights, just like anything that has ever been won that has been worth winning and worth fighting for.  so join a union and let's get on with things :)

[ Parent ]
IMHO, John Edwards was that politician... (4.00 / 6)
That presents two problems.  One, he could not beat Obama because he could not raise the money and he was not as good at manipulating our emotions the way Obama does.

Second is the massively negative reaction to his affair.  What he did was no worse than what Clinton did.  Clinton went on to become President and Edwards has disappeared.  As a culture, we are so self-righteous about politicians being straight and narrow.  The media is part of the problem and the rank hypocrisy of the Right leads to masive attacks of people like Edwards and also Spitzer.

But the Left does not defend those people.  Edwards and Spitzer  were among the strongest of our politicians in terms of rebalancing our politics so that the country would support average people.  Both have been so marginalized that I doubt we will see either run for office again.

[ Parent ]
well, Spitzer actually violated the law (4.00 / 3)
a law which I don't personally believe in, but a law all the same

otherwise, I totally agree- our national prudishness has gotten the best of us

[ Parent ]
So? (4.00 / 6)
All sorts of Reps violate the law, too.  After a couple of weeks, maybe months, it just becomes an asterisk--except on the Rachel Maddow Show.

With Dems?  Not so much.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I guess I felt the need to point that out (4.00 / 3)
to make a distinction between Edwards and Spitzer

especially as for all we know Edwards and his wife had an arrangement (this happens in relationships affected by major illnesses)

but you're not wrong about the bizarre double standard in the village for Republicans (i.e. Scarborough vs. Condit)

[ Parent ]
it's not prudishness as an essential trait (4.00 / 4)
it's the result of an active and concerted attempt to undermine people's rights to sexuality through cultural politics, education policy, politicised religion, homophobia, sexism, and, broadly speaking, moral policing.  if you compromise on 'family values' this is what we get.

[ Parent ]
Yes. And as this relates to women (4.00 / 6)
it's an attempt at absolute control over our sexuality.

Just once, as women's reproductive freedoms are being thrown under the bus, I'd like to see a serious bill proposed by a House member that only married men can get erectile dysfunction medications, that they are not available over the internet, and that verified written consent from the man's wife must first be attained.  

[ Parent ]
Verified written consent for Viagra is a great idea! (4.00 / 1)
After all, he could use Viagra to cheat with someone else which absolutely is an area government should be involved in. Screw the poor and what they need to survive. It's the adulterers that matter most.

[ Parent ]
Almost forgot! (4.00 / 3)
Erectile dysfunction meds would not be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, the Public Option, or any private insurance plan that won't also fully cover abortions.

[ Parent ]
Vitter broke the law too and he is still in office. (4.00 / 8)

[ Parent ]
i agree they were closer (4.00 / 1)
and that's why fighting the policing of people's sexuality and morality where it's either a) not anyone's business outside of the people they hurt or b) isn't actually harmful is worthwhile.  

On the other hand, you can make the arguments against them as well (particularly from a feminist vantage point).   So there's no perfect solution - as my mom likes to say, if i could combine all my children into one with only their good qualities, that would be perfect.  if you could have combined hillary clintonn's tenaciousness with john edward's attention to class with obama's understanding of peace and calm and grace, then you might of had a great candidate.

but then they would have been called unpatriotic and anyway, sicne when do we wait for saviours!?  we're democrats, with a lower case d!

[ Parent ]
There was no defending either (4.00 / 1)
both had staked too much on things that were endangered by their affairs:  one of Edwards' big arguments for the Presidency was his relationship with Elizabeth and the 'two in one' argument.  The affair undercut that relationship.

Spitzer was even more staked to the notion of him being a tough guy, law-and-order type that stood up to the fat cats and crooks.  When it was shown that he was a habitual lawbreaker, that was fundamentally undercut.

[ Parent ]
Spitzer (4.00 / 5)
IMO Spitzer was not a "tough guy" but a guy who protected the normal person against Wall Street and crooked corporations.  I don't care if he had an affair.  We need the protection against Wall Street and the corporations.

There is no, I repeat, no correlation between personal sexual morality and working for the good of the people.  W was great with that and a horible President.

Somewhere, somehow, the media or the churches or somebody sold the American public this bill of goods.  It is the stupidest lie going.  And somehow, only conservative Republicans and a few conservative Democrats seem to benefit from this lie.

Personal sexual morality?  Attempts to sell it in the 1800s for politics backfired big time.  There was a glimmer of it in 1964 where Goldwater used it successfully against Rockefeller in California (divorce and remarriage, a no-no to conservative GOPers until Reagan).  Then Gary Hart in 1984, the Republican vendetta against Clinton, and on and on since then.

Sorry, I'll take Ted Kennedy over Jimmy Carter just based on policy.

[ Parent ]
If Spitzer had had an affair, I don't think anyone would have cared (0.00 / 0)
what he did was hire a prostitute, in violation of state and federal law.  THAT is what undercut his image, not the affair.  

And I'm saying this happened on a message level, I actually agree with you about personal morality and politics.  But the mix can only be avoided if your personal faults manage to not undercut your political strengths.  

[ Parent ]
No, What Underdcut His Image Was That He Was A Democrat (4.00 / 5)
Different rules for Dems and Reps.

With Reps, their personal faults just make them all the more like the rest of us regular Joes.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Then why were Kennedy and Clinton able to weather scandals? (0.00 / 0)
And Larry Craig didn't weather his scandal too well.  I understand that the press coverage toward Clinton and Kennedy was hardly friendly, but if your'e just going to argue that everything is just explained by different rules for Democrats and Republicans (which is certainly in play), these things need to be explained as well.  

Both at the time and in retrospect, the first-order criticism of Spitzer was the hiring of a prostitute juxtaposed with his stance as AG.  "But he was married" was a second-order complaint brought up.  

[ Parent ]
Sure, Clinton Only Became The Second President In History To Get Impeached (4.00 / 2)
And made the press so mad that they helped steal the 2000 election from Gore.

So if that's your standard for a Dem "weathering" a scandal, I sort of think it speaks for itself.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Everyone saw the impeachment as a witch hunt (0.00 / 0)
and his popularity skyrocketed during it, so yes.  

It's not Clinton's fault that Gore decided that he was going to run away from both Clinton and from the Democratic base in 2000, pissing everyone off.  

[ Parent ]
Edwards? (4.00 / 5)
He had one term in the Senate, whose greatest distinction was cosponsoring the AUMF, and pushing the war in Iraq.

He tacked right when it seemed the way to the White House, then tacked left when that seemed the way to the White House, trying to reposition himself as an economic populist.

What he tried to do was run as the new RFK, with a warmed-over version of the RFK platform on labor. He ran left of the frontrunners in order to try to carve out a niche for himself. It didn't work.

In no sense was he a great advocate or a capable statesman, and his commitment to poverty was paper-thin.

So I don't think it's such a great loss, really.

[ Parent ]
That's Certainly The "Glass Half Full" Argument (4.00 / 4)
But it's pretty cold comfort when you see just how deeply wed Obama really is to the now quite old neoliberal positions.

Slashing Social Security & Medicare as Bruce Webb has written about here lately?

I've often compared him to JFK, and JFK had this side of him, too.  His hawkishness ("missile gaps") and tax-cut Keyensianism come to mind, for example.  But those were comparatively mild compared to what we see with Obama.

So, in short, I wish I could agree with you.  I would sleep much better at night.  Heck, I'd sleep better in the middle of day, dozing off in happy thoughts at all hours.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

The freeways of SoCal are safer as a result.  But that's the only upside I see.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
These are much more conservative days (4.00 / 2)
I think both JFK and Obama kind of put a hip face on what was conventional wisdom at the time.  It's actually why I marginally preferred Hillary Clinton over him, as I see her being much closer to LBJ--someone who has some conservative predilections, but ultimately, a pragmatist that knows how to bargain in Washington.  

[ Parent ]
I'm pretty sure the polling (4.00 / 4)
on issues (as opposed to brand identity - conservative vs. liberal) shows that these most definitely are not "much more conservative days". What is more conservative these days are our fully deregulated corporate media, and our corporate lap dog elected officials. And that makes all the difference in the world  as to what the so-called experts agree is "convention wisdom" and the pulse of "middle America".  

[ Parent ]
Hillary is a REAL "War-Monger" (0.00 / 0)
and not a SECRET one, but we all know that, and she would NEVER win!

[ Parent ]
What the hell is the difference? (4.00 / 2)
If the foreign policy outputs are identical (and with Gates staying on, it was guaranteed that there would be no policy change), then who cares about what they would 'seem' like?  Especially when Obama's campaign trail rhetoric on foreign policy was marginally more hawkish anyway?

And do you think that Clinton would have been as passive as Obama has been on health care?  I find that argument almost impossible to make.  

[ Parent ]
it's the only glass we have : (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
also if we're clear eyed about the u.s. in the 60s (0.00 / 0)
cuban missile crisis, no civil rights act until after kennedy is killed, vietnam war escalation, invasions in latin america just like before, no immigration reform until after kennedy is killed etc etc etc

is it REALLY worse with this $hitty conservative president than that one?

[ Parent ]
Yes, It's Worse (4.00 / 1)
Johnson's decision to invade Vietnam was tragic and foolish.  But he was responding to the political disaster that followed Korea.  So he at least had a defensible rationale.

Obama has the benefit of LBJ's mistake to inform him, and he's not paying any attention to it.

The technical term for this is "as stupid as George W. Bush."

That's pretty fucking stupid.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I agree. (0.00 / 0)
He was goaded into it by the REpublicans, and he was stupid enough to still fall into their Vietnam trap!  That's pretty stupid.

[ Parent ]
yeah but kennedy was the one that sent advisors (4.00 / 1)
also, there's all this:

15. Western Europe - 1950s and 1960s: Fronts within fronts within fronts
16. British Guiana - 1953-1964: The CIA's international labor mafia
17. Soviet Union - Late 1940s to 1960s: From spy planes to book publishing
18. Italy - 1950s to 1970s: Supporting the Cardinal's orphans and techno-fascism
19. Vietnam - 1950-1973: The Hearts and Minds Circus
20. Cambodia - 1955-1973: Prince Sihanouk walks the high-wire of neutralism
21. Laos - 1957-1973: L'Armée Clandestine
22. Haiti - 1959-1963: The Marines land, again
23. Guatemala - 1960: One good coup deserves another
24. France/Algeria - 1960s: L'état, c'est la CIA
25. Ecuador - 1960-1963: A text book of dirty tricks
26. The Congo - 1960-1964: The assassination of Patrice Lumumba
27. Brazil - 1961-1964: Introducing the marvelous new world of death squads
28. Peru - 1960-1965: Fort Bragg moves to the jungle
29. Dominican Republic - 1960-1966: Saving democracy from communism by getting rid of democracy
30. Cuba - 1959 to 1980s: The unforgivable revolution

Let's be honest about what we can expect from American presidents - i'm happy to continue the polite fiction of global equality in polite conversation, but not here.

[ Parent ]
Well, she's right. And you have a good point, too. (4.00 / 1)
What else can be said? Sry for being so unoriginal, but I just thought I should leave a comment so you know your story has been read and appreciated.

Not Only That (0.00 / 0)
you made me chuckle.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Brand and Brand loyalty (4.00 / 7)
I've spent the last ten minutes trying to recall when I realized how deeply the marketers had gotten into my head and I turned off the TV for good.  I might be approaching 2 decades.  Does that ever make me feel old.  I followed the print media for about another five years after I turned off the tube.  I think I've been officially divorced from all sources of trad media for over 10 years now.  Which is a way of saying that when the Yes We Can video showed up, I was totally put off by it.  People were raving about how wonderful it was, and I just couldn't see it.  It didn't resonate for me.  

And, I'm simply amazed that the emotional attachment so many people seem to have for Obama persists.  I would guess that is the hallmark of a really, really good marketing campaign.  But, I wonder, does Obama look forward to presiding over a House/Senate/Congress with (as Digby put it) subpoena power?  The Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll she references is surprising only in the sense that there must be a lot more people feeling as I do, than I had imagined.  Although I expect there are millions following left leaning bloggers on the internet, I wouldn't expect them to represent a majority of Democrats.  So where did Kos find all of these disaffected Democratic voters?  And, why are those voters disaffected?  Where are they getting the information that is influencing their brand loyalty?  Does a subset of genuinely liberal voters exist that is much larger than the stalwart Obama supporters I run into all over the net?  Or, are these apparently stalwart Obama supporters a lot more disaffected than they admit?  I suppose it could be simply that Obama has no coattails.  He has retained his brand loyalty while the Democrats as a whole have not.  Or, were the Democrats  in fact even the beneficiaries of the Obama Brand?

Howard Dean is requested to report to the Emergency Room Stat!

Obama Bombs, Dems Pay The Price (4.00 / 7)
I think it's a very perverse situation, because

(A) Obama was elected on an anti-Bush/anti-GOP wave that could have elected any Democrat, but

(B) his marketing made that wave his own--in the all-important land of appearances, at least, and

(C) now the depression of the Dem base is largely due to Obama's failure to deliver--most specifically,

(1) his failure to push for really fundamental change and

(2) his failure to rally the troops and bring pressure on Congress to make really fundamental change possible.

And, finally,

(D) The Versailles narrative for all the above will be that Dems went all crazy liberal and "tried to do to much", forgetting that "America is a center-right nation".

Can you say, "clusterfuck"?

Sure you can!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Excellent points (4.00 / 2)
Two follow-on questions:

1. How did this happen? Why was there no effective way to stem the hype and force Obama to use his vaunted rhetorical gifts to seize an obvious change year (beyond claiming the word "change" for his brand), instead of running on his retrograde post-partisan platform?

2. Is the Democratic Party worth fighting for?

[ Parent ]
The Democratic Party Has Been MUCH Worse In The Past (4.00 / 6)
If it was worth fighting for when it was dominated by Dixiecrats in Congress and machine bosses in the northern cities, then it's obviously worth fighting for today.

We just need to elevate our game accordingly.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Excellent follow-on questions (4.00 / 2)
1) The (neo)liberal media doesn't want it.  Which reminds me that I need to find myself one of those "Kill Your Television" bumper stickers.

2) My Magic 8-Ball sez "You may rely on it".  To me the best way to save the D party is to be willing to vote third party if the D doesn't come up with the goods.  If you're not willing to walk away, it's not a negotiation.

[ Parent ]
I'll take a stab at those. (4.00 / 3)
1. How and why?  Basically, we lack the large organizational infrastructure, and monetary backing necessary to maintain it, to wield a proper political-sized club.  Look at how the teabaggers are smacking their party around.  Granted, their ideology has been usurped by the large corporations and pro-corporate organizations which do all the real work of organization and funding.  But that doesn't change that Republicans by and large have to at least pay lip service to their demands or face getting Scozzafava'd.  We should be doing the same, only since we're not going to be fooled (I hope) by corporate shenanigans, we're not going to have the funding nor organizational short-cuts available to the teabaggers.  But that doesn't mean there aren't things we shouldn't be doing.  Purity tests and running/supporting candidates as far left as we can find is a good start.

And yes, I said purity tests.  If we're not going to set a standard for our candidates and require them to adhere to it, then we might as well back any old Dem, cause that's what we're going to end up with.  They'll just call themselves progressive without actually being progressive, like many do already.  We'll end up with a bunch of Obamas.  Nice rhetoric, makes you feel really good, but once you get past the outer layers, there's really not much there but crappy policy.  We can set the bar wherever we want, but we have to set a bar, and we should be setting it relatively high.  This isn't a limbo contest, after all.

2. Yes and no.  The Democratic Party as it currently exists is not worth fighting for.  However, the infrastructure and brand are worth keeping.  That's why there was such a big bruhaha over keeping Howard Dean as DNC chairman.  The only real choices we have in this regard are to either take over the party or form a third party to attempt to take over the position the Dems have.*  The effect is the same, so there's a strong argument that taking over the party from within is easier than replacing it from without.  I'm still in agreement with that basic strategy, but given how thoroughly corrupt so much of the party is, sometimes I wonder if it's really worth it.

* This is a direct result of the electoral system we have.  New York offers a little more leeway, but that's not available nation-wide, so on the whole, we're stuck with these options.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.

[ Parent ]
You put me in mind (4.00 / 3)
of a passage from "The Book of Five Rings."

On "fighting without a sword," the key point is to recognize that you do have a sword, but at the moment it is in your opponent's hand. Your objective is to take it away and use it yourself.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
As Frank Rich said... (4.00 / 1)
to those who bought the brand despite the obvious marketing, evident to anyone who cared to look below the surface of what was presented, you've been punked!

[ Parent ]
BUT... (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Two responses... (4.00 / 1)
First, whenever somebody posts a critical diary of Obama that gets on the recommended list, often another competing diary supporting Obama is posted that last longers on the recommended list.  My sense is that the people who still support Obama are a majority even on Dailykos.

Second, Obama has no coattails.  The only way he would have coattails is if was willing to fight for progressive bills that really help people.  Has not happened yet but I suppose it could.  

If Obama really does escalate in Afghanistan, then there will most likely be a huge split amongst Democratic elected officials just as there was in 1994 over NAFTA.  Congress only passed NAFTA in '94 because nearly all Republicans supported and enough Democrats supported it to barely pass.  IMHO, that was the major reason that the Republicans won that year.  The labor union members saw no reason to vote and sat out the election and Democrats bombed.  

2010 probably will not be a rerun of '94 because some sort of healthcare reform will pass, albeit bad, and because the Republicans are in the midst of a major internal war.  But it is not likely to be a good year for progressive causes unless a whole lot of candidates like Alan Grayson show up and get past the primaries which seems unlikely.

[ Parent ]
Yo... (0.00 / 0)
I'm not referring to Kos diaries, or Kos diarists, or Kos readers, or Kos thread participants.  See:
and scroll down to where it says Voter Likelihood.


A total of 2400 adults nationally were interviewed by telephone. A cross-section of calls was made into each state in the country in order to reflect the adult population nationally. [emphasis mine]

Otherwise, points 2 and 3 taken.

[ Parent ]
On that note, new poll of DKos users: (0.00 / 0)

74% rate Obama's first 10 months B/good or A/excellent. A mere 14% rate below C/average. And scientific polls of the public always show liberals giving Obama his highest approval ratings, around 85-90%. The progressive blogs that are skeptical of Obama, such as OpenLeft, FireDogLake, Glenn Greenwald, represents a fringe minority even in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. A major reason why many Democrats won't vote next year is simply that Brand Obama won't be on the ballot.  

[ Parent ]
that emotional attachment was deliberately cultivated (4.00 / 7)
The redoubtable Digby has this quote from an Obama volunteer:

One of the great joys for me in working on the Obama campaign was being involved with people who understood this concept [of emotional truth] very, very well. Although I had no part in the messaging of the campaign myself, I watched with great appreciation how the campaign tapped into the emotions of it's volunteers. They took a demoralized activist base beaten down by 8 years of quasi-fascist rule and lifted us up with three simple words and one simple concept - "Respect, empower, and include" and "CHANGE."

Day after day, they used these concepts, ritualized them, repeated them, made them into a mantra. They created the emotional truth around which the campaign drew it's power.

To this day I still tear up when I remember how, at the end of Camp Obama, our facilitator told everyone in the room to close their eyes and envision Obama and his family on January 20 - to envision Michelle and her girls as they stood to watch their father take the oath of office. And I can tell you, when I was there on the Mall and watched it happen for real, it was all I could do not to break down.

"Beaten down". "Lifted us up". "Ritualized." "Mantra". The "power" of "emotional truth".

It reads more like a conversion narrative than a description of a political campaign.

And that last bit--about visualizing the personal triumph of The Leader as motivating exercise--is creepy as hell.

Commentators such as Max Blumenthal have mentioned the quasi-religious nature of Obama's campaign:

Many liberals projected their own ambitions onto Barack Obama, as if he were a tabula rasa. Some had higher expectations of him than I'd seen of any politician from the Democratic Party.

Some of the followers of Barack Obama during the campaign reminded me of the Christian right, and he used evangelical language to appeal to them, with New Age themes like: "We are the ones we've been waiting for" - which is a phrase introduced originally by Maria Shriver. It's a Hopi end times prophecy actually. This became a theme of his campaign. I saw his campaign as an illusion that brought together people from all different backgrounds, and actually did create a hopeful vehicle for change.

Someday someone will analyze the psychological tactics of the Obama campaign to see just how much it relied on these religious methodologies and framing. But not now, I guess.

[ Parent ]
It wasn't really a "vehicle for change", of course, but... (4.00 / 2)
...just a vehicle for election, as we know now. And those methods remind me of something, but I don't want to fall into the godwin's law trap...

[ Parent ]
there are plenty of examples (4.00 / 2)
all noxious, but none of which violate Godwin's law: Aum Shinrikyo, David Koresh, etc.

Obama certainly lacks the murderous intent of those groups, but in his campaign he used the kind of tactics that those organizations used to recruit members and build their movement.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps The Most Mendacious Part Of That Rap (3.50 / 8)
is the bit about being "beaten down."

After the 50-state stretegy and the 2006 mid-terms?

With Bush's approaval ratings under 30%?

G-E-T R-E-A-L!

A turnip could have beaten John McCain.

Hell, a Kenyan yam could have beaten him.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
It sounds to me (0.00 / 0)
like the brainwashing they give the "associates" at Wal Mart.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
So Sadie... (0.00 / 0)
What's with the troll rating for my comment above?

A mouse-slip, I'm sure as I know you're not one to be at a loss for words if you thought I said something amiss.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Yes, sorry! (0.00 / 0)
And now I can't fix it for reasons I don't understand, but it was meant as a four.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Well You SHOULD Be Able To Change It (0.00 / 0)
But the site's been a bit haunted this weekend, it seems.  

At one point, I had utterly inexplicable things going on with my own users page and  the administrative "future diaries" page, which stubbornly showed the time stuck a few hours in the past, among other things.  Diaries were missing, too. I had to actually reboot my computer before things returned to normal.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Yeah, but not sure that's the people who did the work (4.00 / 2)
At least in our district office, there were some hardcore believers of that type on the paid staff.  The rest of the paid staff were very enthusiastic (as we all were) but only a certain percentage bought into the full cult aspect though.

However, I don't know how much that mattered.  The people who did the bulk of the work were the volunteers, and again from what I saw in our battleground state it was the experienced retirees and on-the-bench professionals among the volunteers who stepped in and did most of the organizing and directing of the bulk effort.  Sure, the paid staff was there and was useful, and the general message came down from the top.  But the bulk organizing and tactical decision-making wasn't done by the paid kids (or the cultists among them) but by middle-aged volunteers both full- and part-time.  I know Plouff thinks he did it all from his aerie in Chicago, but on the ground things were quite different.

Here's the rub though:  my spouse had two lifelong Republicans on her canvassing team.  Both retired; one military vet.  Both said the same thing:  had voted Republican their entire lives but could no longer accept what Cheney had done to the Constitution and the reputation of the United States with his policy of torture and the disUnitary Executive.  Said they had to work for Obama to reverse that direction.  So what do you think:  any chance those two will be back on Obama's team in 2012?  That they will vote for Obama or any other Democrat?  Hmmm....


[ Parent ]
Yeah, That's It Exactly (0.00 / 0)
So what do you think:  any chance those two will be back on Obama's team in 2012?  That they will vote for Obama or any other Democrat?  Hmmm....

Obama seems hell-bent on throwing away his aces.

I know the dude can't bowl.  But who knew there was a politician anywhere in America clueless about poker?

I don't care about Harvard Law. On the just plain ole Politics-101 level, he now looks to be the dumbest Democratic President since the 19th Century.  Jimmy Carter pulled some real boners.  But with Obama, it's pretty much 24/7.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
As Sirota says, Obama at the left (4.00 / 2)
Or more accurately, what is considered "left" in this bizarro country. Even after everything, I wonder if Obama still has more sway among progressives than the entire progressive blogosphere and Progressive Caucus combined. This isn't just about Obama's charisma or whatever, but is in large part a natural consequence of elections being run by the public relations industry. We are taught to focus on personality, and for those who need a little something extra, those wedge social issues that the elites don't care about. Last thing they want is what's happening all over South America, people organizing for causes, not personas, and selecting someone from their own ranks to implement their plans.

Anyway, Chomsky covered this whole "Brand Obama" angle a lot better than I can shortly after the election, so I'll stop writing:

That's the way it was, (0.00 / 0)
but it sure has changed for those of us with a brain.  We can see the light, and we are no longer "buying."  I for one cannot wait until 2012, for a new Democratic Presidential Primary.  If we don't get a decent candidate, I will vote Independent.  I will not vote again (let alone, contribute to, or work for, Barack Obama, "Con-Man extraordinaire."

[ Parent ]
It's America's disease (4.00 / 3)
it's not restricted to the GOP.

We no longer understand the real, because we have not had need of it for a long time now. The symbol, the image has been enough. We're not far removed from the grim world of Idiocracy, where literacy has been replaced by simple pictures, and corporations permeate absolutely every aspect of daily life.

Presidential elections have been reduced to American Idol contests. And you know how in American Idol, it's always the blandest and most forgettable contestant who makes it. They may keep one of the edgier people around in the final stages just to add spice, but the prize is reserved for the most pleasant, inoffensive, and personality-free contestant they can find.

When such a person opens his mouth you remember nothing of what he actually says--only a general impression of pleasant feelings and good will. He has no specific personality traits that stand out; if you were to try to describe him it would be a struggle to say anything beyond "he seems like a nice guy" and "I like him".

And Obama is just such a creature. A bland cipher about whom you know nothing, and who therefore serves as a mirror onto whom you can project your own hopes and desires.

Now, at some point, if the audience is in a particularly angry and rebellious mood, they just might pick the edgy guy. The asshole who snaps back at Simon and treats the other contestants like shit and thinks that God put him on Earth to be a star despite the fact that he sings horribly, but whose histrionics win over the audience and make them laugh. The kind of person for whom the audience tunes in just to watch his epic meltdowns and freakouts.

And so too it will be with our politics. The next American Idol president will be a GOP demagogue who's charming and mediagenic.

Sure, he may indulge in race-baiting, gender-baiting, gay-baiting, immigrant-baiting, Muslim-baiting, Jew-baiting, and every kind of minority baiting under the sun, but he'll do it in a kind of amusing homespun way that makes people chuckle. A new "compassionate conservatism."

"So what if he's not politically correct?" people will say. "I like this guy. He's a straight shooter." And when it's suggested by more dispassionate observers that his proposals are alarmingly close to fascism, they'll dismiss it with "Ah, c'mon he doesn't really mean it, he's just joking around. Having some fun."

With the economy so bad and the Democrats waffling weakly as usual, the country just might go for him. And we'll be in deep shit.

Are y'all overlooking the obvious? (4.00 / 2)
In a year when, literally, ANYBODY could have beaten the Pukes at the polls, the Dims put up "novelty" candidates--the first woman, the first non-white--either one of which would have faced exactly the same problems with governing, but both of which would emboss the "Dim" brand with "cred" for the 'lower orders' whom the Party is supposed to represent. (One reason why the Dims anymore have so little authority is that their constituency, while numerous, is also economically and socially powerless: i.e., the "losers."

Obama was "preferable" to the owners--hence, Rupert Murdoch's personal endorsement of him--mainly because there is already a greater cultural predisposition to hate a "colored" person than a 'white' woman. And, since the job of this president--whomsoever it turned out to have been--was to be someone onto whom 'angry white' voters could displace their fear and loathing of the Bushies, thereby paving the way for their return in the next cycle, a male PoC is a more viable object of hatred and derision than a 'white' woman would have been...

Anyway, it seems obvious o me...

Now, with the renewed "official" attention to "fixing"--that is, "gutting"--social security, it seems another part of his job may be to preside over the final coup de gras to the New Deal. Like it took a Puke--Nixon--to go to China, it needs a Dim to eviscerate the social safety net. Obama's the designated hitter here (but it would have fallen to Hillary, too, if she'd been selected...).

The first commenter on Klein (Dr. Anon) restated her thesis in an interesting way: (4.00 / 3)
There is a question of cause and effect - is the political brand open and allow space to move forward (from a progressive stand point) or is it regressive and move backwards (again, same vantage point).

This is exactly, imho, what Klein is saying:  Obama creates his "brand" such that

We think we hear the message we want to hear, but if you really parse it, the promises aren't there, it's really the emotions.

And, you know, I think that that explains in some sense the paralysis in progressive movements in the United States where we think, Obama stands for something because we-our emotions were activated on these issues, but we don't really have much to hold him to because, in fact, if you look at what he said during the campaign, like any good super brand, like any good marketer, he made sure not to promise too much, so that he couldn't be held to it.

However, I do not see how the Obama brand, with its hope and promise for change, "enable[s] the impetus behind a progressive movement to come about," as Dr. Anon writes.

If you're talking about backlash against betrayal, we've yet to see this materialize. We still have progressives pumping up Hope, which is essentially what Dr. Anon is perpetuating.

If we accept the premise that there are political brands, such as Obama's and Reagan's, isn't it equally plausible to suggest that the Reagan brand would produce backlash? Perhaps the election of the first African-American to the Presidency is the backlash, though it was a long time coming after Reagan.

I recall trying to read Obama's website, which transformed to after the inauguration. It was maddeningly vague, just like his "leadership" on health care reform - full of "principles" and "vision," short on substance.

Klein's observations, as others above are pointing out, are a sad statement on how our American Democracy has evolved, or rather devolved.  

Voters have become little more than consumers. Consumerism has replaced a civil society where rational, intelligent, informed people debate the substance of issues.

I think media coverage of elections and campaign finances are major contributors to this sorry end. The Obama brand is just another link in the chain.

Perhaps Dr. Anon is correct: The betrayal of an electorate who responded to the Obama brand might actually become the impetus for a truly progressive change movement. Hope springs eternal, I guess.

The whole thing is circular. This means radical change is necessary. How we conduct elections has to change if "Democracy" is to prevail.

Creative civil disobedience (4.00 / 1)
is one way for the masses to lash back. Not so much rallies in the streets as visible signs and actions that can easily be picked up by anyone who sympathizes and wants to protest and show solidarity. Actions could be simple even meaningless like liberal blogs changing their layouts to white text on black background for a day or week to protest Obama's decision this week to double down on Afghanistan. Surely the progressive community is creative enough to find simple ways for people show displeasure? Done enough times, it should generate attention, debate, and change.

[ Parent ]
What a great idea! (4.00 / 1)
dramatic, creative civil disobedience.

Your comment made me think of the "Obey" sticker campaign mounted by artist Shephard Fairey in the early 1980's. Bumper-sticker type signs with the single word "Obey" appeared seemingly overnight on telephone poles and buildings across the country.

One single word means so much, or nothing, but it got people's attention wondering what it meant. Of course when the source of the sticker campaign was revealed, its significance was immediately dismissed. So, what else is new. As you say, do it often enough and it could generate attention, debate and change.

Hey, there's an idea. Let's get Shephard Fairey to design a counter-Obama image (counter to the now famous Hope, Change, Progress images of Obama that were adapted from an actual photograph taken by an Associated Press photographer - you know the one.)

For more info on the sticker campaign, which has deep philosophical roots -

Here's a sample from the website:

The OBEY sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology. Heidegger describes Phenomenology as "the process of letting things manifest themselves." Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation.

The FIRST AIM OF PHENOMENOLOGY is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one's environment. The OBEY sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the product or motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with the sticker provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer's perception and attention to detail. The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. Because OBEY has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and the nature of their sensibilities.

[ Parent ]
"hope" and "change you can believe in" (4.00 / 7)
Hope? Whose hopes? What kind of hopes? He never said. Just "hope".

"Change you can believe in". Belief in the possibility of change, as distinct from actual change.

My favorite is "We can't just tell people what they want to hear, we need to tell people what they need to hear."

Just try parsing that sentence. Savor its tautologousness, and how it dexterously avoids doing the very thing it calls for.

Now I can only describe that as metapandering--pandering by telling people you're not going to pander to them.

Obama said very much less than people thought he did. But he did it with a flourish, so the electorate went for it.

Metapandering--Precisely! (4.00 / 1)
And the truly mindfucking part is that you can't tell that it's metapandering until you see what it's used to justify--slashing Medicare and Social Security, as opposed to military $pending and carbon emissions from the fo$$il fuel $ector.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I still like the non-idealogical ideology (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
I've just been reading the Chomsky article that Vosh posted a link to (4.00 / 2)
Anyway, Chomsky covered this whole "Brand Obama" angle a lot better than I can shortly after the election, so I'll stop writing:

Here are a few pertinent passages.

I mean, Obama did organize a great large number of people and many enthusiastic people, what's called in the press "Obama's Army." But the army is supposed to take instructions, not to implement, to introduce, develop programs and call on its own candidate to implement them. That's critical. If the army keeps to that condition, nothing much will change. If it, on the other hand, goes the way activists did in the '60s, a lot could change, one of the choices that has to be made.

Actually, what happened here is understood by elite elements. The public relations industry, which runs elections here-quadrennial extravaganzas essentially-makes sure to keep issues in the margins and focus on personalities, character, and so on and so forth. They do that for good reasons. They know-they look at public opinion studies, and they know perfectly well that on a host of major issues both parties are well to the right of the population. That's one good reason to keep issues off the table.

Well, what can we anticipate if the popular army, the grassroots army, decides to accept the function of spectators of action rather than participants? There's two kinds of evidence. There's rhetoric, and there's action.

Naomi Klein's observations are nothing new. The Chomsky article was published shortly after the election concluded, as Obama was choosing his now infamous close advisors - Rahm Emmanuel, Geithner and Summers. Chomsky also makes some interesting observations about the choice of V.P. Biden.

How long will it take for us conscious voters to mobilize?

Good Post, But... (4.00 / 1)
Naomi's analysis rings true.  I'm sure we all have looked hard at Obama and saw more of what we wanted to see than is actually there.

But Lincoln didn't start as President intent on freeing the slaves.  He did what he had to do to win the Civil war.  He showed the ability to respond to the situation and change course.

Right now, we have an economic calamity which is our own civil war.  Can we get Obama to change course?

That's Just The Point (4.00 / 4)
Lincoln didn't run to free the slaves.  But he did run for a purpose other than winning.  With brand competition, not so much.

The only real hope I had with Obama was that circumstances would force him to the left.  But he's proven to be a rather rigid ideologue, which is just the opposite of Lincoln and FDR's pragmatism.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Changing The Balance (0.00 / 0)
Some obvious steps:

1) Change the people around him.  We're already seeing people demand that Geithner and Bernanke be removed which would be a good first step.  We would need to toss Summers too.  Unfortunately, if I can read between the lines in the news, Obama is tossing out some of the more liberal advisors rather than the opposite.

2) Dems get whacked at polls.  This looks like it's going to happen as the economy tanks and Obama does little for Main St after giving the store to Wall St.  It would be nice for the idiots in the WH to see this coming and start to react, but we've got the Democratic version of Karl Rove calling the shots - Rahm, and he's been running the Democratic brand into a brick wall since becoming CoS.  I get a kick out of all those people reading "The Thumping" and calling Rahm a genius - not!  It was Dr. Dean making the miracle, and he isn't around to cover Rahm's ass anymore.

3) Things get so bad even Obama cannot ignore it.  This is just not a pretty scenario.  The best way to force change is to have the Congress realize how bad things are, start worrying about their own skins, and have them start pushing Obama.  The problems is that Congress is rarely a unifying force since it's composed of so many people with so many agendas.  To some extent, that's what we're seeing happen right now. It's best to have the President step up and lead otherwise you get too many Senators in your own party start acting like real pricks.

So that would seem to be some of the mechanisms in place to get change.  Are there more? How do we speed up these processes?

[ Parent ]
It has been my experience that when Dems (4.00 / 4)
in the last 15 years have experienced electoral defeat, they assume that they did not go right enough. I expect the same of president obama since it can never be that their policies failed them because they went to far right. They are neoliberal ideologues. Don't expect reality to change this.  

[ Parent ]
Irony (4.00 / 4)
So the one Democratic President we have that goes left, gets elected four times during a depression.

But now, Democrats cannot even bear to say the word depression and have to go right when pressed trying (rather hopelessly) to re-inflate the Reagan economy that fucked us in the first place.

Sounds more like a Fellini comedy than a political strategy.

[ Parent ]
Well this is not the party of FDR (4.00 / 2)
It is the party of Hoover. The Republicans are now something off the charts for American politics while the Democrats are what the GOP were in the past.

[ Parent ]
It has been my experience that when Dems (0.00 / 0)
in the last 15 years have experienced electoral defeat, they assume that they did not go right enough. I expect the same of president obama since it can never be that their policies failed them because they went to far right. They are neoliberal ideologues. Don't expect reality to change this.  

[ Parent ]
Where I differ with Klein (4.00 / 2)
Although I agree with her assessment of "brand Obama" I disagree with her implication that "branding" is intrinsically falsifying. The fact of the matter is that in a mass media campaign of any kind, branding is not a choice. How you go about making branding intentional is the issue. Because your messages are branded in the public mind whether you like it or not. Best to at least grab the bull by the horns and attempt to direct the perception of your brand. Of course this does not have to mean falsely co-opting others' messages to camouflage your own real intentions. And of course Paul's historical assessment of the perceptions of social protests is right on. But this does not mean that we in the progressive movement shouldn't use all the tools in the communications drawer to advance our cause. Branding is one of the those tools.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

That's a good point (4.00 / 2)
I think I agree with you that there's nothing intrinsically wrong with branding, and Progressives, the Left, ought to be doing more of it.

Ok, so Obama turned out to be a manufacturer's recall.

Let's make another one, a better one. This time let's make sure we aren't selling something that isn't there. Also thoroughly inspect candidates we support at all levels of government.

The only trouble with this comforting thought is that it could be true the only reason "they," corporate money people, allowed Obama to advance (and I believe use of the word "allowed" is appropriate) is because they knew he was inferior product.

Check out this link for an essay on who's controlling what -

Link provided by EricD in (current) Quick Hits "Street on Obama."

[ Parent ]

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