Articles

Saturday, June 02, 2012

No Country for Old Incumbents

A storm is not a good time to be at the wheel of a ship and a worldwide economic disaster is not a good time to be at the wheel of the ship of state. Hard times are supposed to bring great men to the fore, but instead we have some of the sorriest men in history trying to find the wheel, sleeping off a bender in their cabins or debating whether a wheel even exists.

Obama is bad, but he's not exactly up against rival statesmen. After parading around with a one-man cult of personality, launching international projects with no purpose, and displaying all the symptoms of a Napoleon complex, without a world famous conqueror in sight, Sarkozy's only reelection platform was that the alternative to him would be worse. He was right. But you can hardly blame quite a few Frenchmen and Frenchwomen who stayed home, rather than hold their noses and vote for him.

In the UK, Cameron cut the military and launched a war. Labour's career idiot, Ed Milband, now has a higher approval rating than the Prime Minister. Cameron has the same reelection platform as Sarkozy and he's also right, but that won't help him when the public gets the chance to cast their vote. And the vote will be the international refrain, translated many ways in many languages, but that always means, "Throw out the bums."

Russia has become a virtual armed camp for the sole purpose of keeping Putin in power. The man who successfully set up his own Stalinesque cult of personality, now has to use extraordinary measures to protect himself from his own people, who don't care so much that he stole the election, but who are sick and tired of the spectacle of Vladimir and his ten-thousand good friends from the Committee for State Security, better known by three ominous letters, gorging themselves on the best things in life while everyone else suffers.

China's rulers should be paying careful attention to Moscow. If the express train of Western exports ever falters, what they will face will make Tiananmen Square look like a fond memory. The Princes of the PRC won't be up against a bunch of idealistic students, but the farmers whose land they stole, the workers whose children they killed and that rising middle-class which tasted prosperity only to have it snatched away. If that day comes, they won't be stopped by tanks, and the army may just take their side.

The American media has become virtually indistinguishable from the Russian and Chinese media, in its hysterical support for the regime and vindictive smears of opponents. The only difference between Newsweek, Pravda and Xinhua is their level of sophistication. Pravda and Xinhua have never been anything more than vulgar organs of the regime, but the American media is descending into savagery while leaving behind a legacy of civilization. Like a citizen turned cannibal, it still has some of the cultural trappings of its past, but it's discarding them as quickly as Newsweek can photoshop new covers. Like the Russian media, the favorite topic of its American counterparts is the inscrutable divinity of its leader, who has not so much failed, as succeeded on a higher level that mere mortals, concerned with paying their bills and having a job, are not privy to. If he has failed, it's only because of the obstructionism of the running dog Republican capitalists who would rather see the country burn than concede his unearthly genius.

The problem with propagandists is that they get so taken in by their own illusion of power, that they stop noticing when no one is paying attention to them. Barely a quarter of the country digested and accepted the swill that the media had poured out over it in 07 and 08. What the public noticed was that there seemed to be a consensus that the One was the one. They didn't notice it by reading every screed that the American heirs to Goebbels were scribbling up at Time and the New York Times. Like a television that is on in the room, while you're vacuuming or doing laundry, they noticed it mainly as background noise in their lives.

Mostly, like the Russian and Chinese workers, they had no reason to pay attention. Politics was for politicians and all politicians are alike. As long as things worked, they were willing to let it go on. When things weren't looking up, they switched and voted for the other guy. It's only when things got really bad that they were forced to pay attention. It's only then that the game changed.

The Obama reelection campaign is running on the same theme as Sarkozy's reelection campaign, the same theme as every incumbent's reelection campaign-- the alternative is worse. Except Obama is wrong. The alternative isn't worse.

For the alternative to be worse, it would have to be Putin or Ahmadinejad; not Romney. But there's no other available theme. Not for an incumbent who has nothing positive to show for his time in office, except giving the go-ahead to kill a wanted terrorist, while blowing the war in Afghanistan. Obama's original platform of change won't work anymore. Not "Change We Can Believe In", not "Safe, Sustainable Change" and not, "Can You Spare Some Change for My Campaign."

Obama would have gone negative anyway, but he has no choice now. It's either go negative or go home. The only way to be reelected, aside from the usual standbys of voter fraud and nuking Florida, is to convince the public that the alternative really is worse. And that's hard because Romney is so bland that he's darn hard to demonize.

Give the media a Gingrich or Santorum, and it would quickly trot out a grotesque caricature, but all they can do with Romney is keep calling him a stiff rich guy, which is true, but doesn't go very far. After plumbing the depths of anti-Mormon bigotry and perhaps running a few stories on how the Mormon Church is plotting to bring back polygamy and some feature stories on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, it's back to the stiff rich guy shtick.

Obama won on emotion the last time around. He has to win this one on emotion too, and if he can't, then he loses. But the emotions in play aren't his anymore. The media imagines that it controls public discourse in its echo chamber, but all it can do is shape it. After a prolonged bout of bad economics, the emotions are a lot harder to massage with the usual pro-Obama con-Republican pieces because the people who count just don't care. They're worried about whether they will still have jobs, not about Trump or the spelling of "America" in a campaign app.

The media runs stories on an issue that it creates, then blames Romney for creating the issue. "Trump upstages Romney" is the media narrative, followed by three pages blaming Romney for allowing Trump to upstage him, when the upstaging is only happening because the media is hunting for hit pieces, like wolves waiting outside a 7-Eleven to feed. It's the old "Stop hitting yourself" trick being played by men and women who are still trying to pretend that they're something more than White House or Media Matters staffers, just because they have a card that says "Press" on it.

But that doesn't matter either, because it's a bad season for incumbents. You can be a liberal dosing out heavy spending and debt, or mildly conservative pushing austerity and serious cutbacks, that slash services without reforming the system, and voters will still hate you when they can't get a job. The only defense is having an opposition that is so toxic that no one wants them in power.

While liberals think that way of Republicans, most of them admit that Romney wouldn't be too bad. Liberals need to believe that the man they're agitating against is the Republican Devil, who's going to ban abortion, gays and modern art, while burning a cross outside the NAACP and preaching the apocalypse. Like the sheep-like audiences sitting in Oceanian theaters, waiting for Emmanuel Goldstein's face to flash on the screen, so they can begin their Two-Minute Hate; they just need someone to hate.

McCain nearly denied them that in '08, until the arrival of Sarah Palin gave them a unifying figure whom they could believe was plotting with megachurches to blow up America in order to bring on the end of days. If Romney doesn't give them a Palin, then we can look forward to months of editorial cartoons featuring a capering Romney with slicked-down hair tossing money into the air. Along with every conceivable distraction that the government and the media can summon up.

But the real question is will any of these distractions, distract people from their wallets? In times like these elections aren't won by rhetoric, they're won by worry. Obama has made Americans worry, and now they're returning the favor. The economy has not been kind to incumbents and there is no reason to believe that it will be any kinder to Obama, than it was to the European and Arab leaders it has already displaced. While Obama is still humming about an "Arab Spring", the winds of an "American Spring" may be blowing his way.






17 comments:

A_Nonny_Mouse said...

Wonderful post but (wet-blanket English-teacher time) I believe that "The media imagines that it controls public discourage in its echo chamber" is meant to refer to "public discourse"?

Other than that tiny slip, I envy your ability to whip words into a concise, organized whole. For me, organizing words and arraying arguments and ideas is like trying to herd cats... Sigh.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Thank you, the words aren't hard, but finding the time for them is

Ex-Dissident said...

I always look forward to reading your posts, and cannot believe that I am up this late. Anyway, along the same thoughts as expressed in this post, I am reminded of an old fable by Aesop.

The MSM keep telling us that we are looking at a lion, a king, an inspirational leader...

But every time Obama opens his mouth, I head the insane braying of a donkey. Every time he speaks, it becomes obvious that he is petty, arrogant, and ignorant.

mindRider said...

Times are bad but apparently not so bad that G'd or Quantum force have a Solon of Athens or a Churchillesque leader leap onto the political stage to save mankind or at least enlightenment. Moreover the lack of these figures might amalgamate Americans back into exercising the strength of individuality in their input of bettering their lives like Glenn Beck tries in his new "Markdown" project helping entrepreneurs to gain ground.
Dear Sultan on your remark that the words come easily to you but time does not, I had thought you would only have it hard to find time to sleep. Please take care as the clear thinking freedom lovers need your inspiration!

Edward Cline said...

Unfortunately, Romney, I'm afraid, is just another Bush (I or II, like father, like son) who will waffle on major issues and continue the Grand Old Party's anti-ideology of "Me, too!" Anyone who expects him to begin dismantling the welfare state or doing anything remotely rational is in for a big disappointment. In the meantime, there is some pleasant albeit temporary satisfaction in seeing so many Obamaton appointees and Congressional allies jumping the Titanic, pushing the women and children out of the way for a seat on a life boat. Rahm Emanuel, for example, a card-carrying thug, however, saw the danger signs over a year ago and left to become mayor of Chicago. Robert Gibbs, dithering predecessor of nerdy Jay Carney (demonstrably a genuine "carney," or "carnival barker"), left for better, less hassling pastures (I think he was asked to leave, he was so much of a comic figure, about as credible as Groucho Marx trying to sell people on the idea of the seven-cent nickel).

Perhaps the only ones who will remain "loyal" to Obama to the end will be his spendthrift wife and David Axelrod, card-carrying Communist. It can't have escaped anyone's notice that Obama's best boosters in Congress aren't stepping forward to shill for him: Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Harry Reid, and that whole lot of collectivist scum. They've been unusually low-profile and very, very quiet. They've put their fingers to the wind, and the wind told them there's a tornado on the way, and they've debouched to their storm cellars.

Irwin Ruff said...

I don't see what the trouble with 0 is. He's even able to use old songs. In'08 he promised us change. And he carried through with this, as the song goes "Buddy, can you spare a dime?"

Anonymous said...

Romney will only lose if he accepts the claptrack McCain "be nice" approach to electioneering.
The reality is the MSM would prefer a Romney Presidency in order to get back to their beloved Republican hatred (they miss Georgie)rather than to obvious attempts to defend the Failed One.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Anon. You're right about that.


Keliata

Anonymous said...

"Give the media a Gingrich or Santorum, and it would quickly trot out a grotesque caricature, but all they can do with Romney is keep calling him a stiff rich guy, which is true, but doesn't go very far"


True. But wasn't that the problem with Al Gore? The stiff, rich guy thing?

Romney needs to find some way to connect with the public on a genuine level and at the same time not fall into the "we-can't-be-mean-to-Obama" because he's black trap.

Romney has to take the gloves off once the debates starts.

Keliata

Anonymous said...

You're right about Putin:( Still, during his elections he asked his supporters if they "loved Russia."

Somehow I can't see Obama asking his supporters if they love America:(

Keliata


OT: I had to laugh at Romeny, though. There's a video on You Tube where he's asked about legalizing marijuana. He said no but suggested manufacturing synthetic marijuana. LOL LOL. We already have synthetic marijuana. It's called Spice and when smoked causes psychosis.

It's illegal in many states now. Someone should whisper that in his ear if he's asked about marijuana again.

Anonymous said...

Yet another jaw-dropping analysis.
Having command of the language is one thing - having command of reality is quite another.

p.s. to anon laughing at Romney's proposal for synthetic marijuana. Israelis have accomplished this to treat PTSD.

slowcamino said...

Great point about the quality of leaders.

The world was lucky post WW2, when you think of leaders like Adenauer, De Gasperi, Menzies (where I live). Things could be turning slightly for the better again with the election of Rajoy in Spain. He can't do much now except all the awful Euro stuff of taxing and cadging, but at least he knows it shouldn't be like that. He's a climate skeptic, and unamused by Spain's disastrous "greening".

Who knows? Maybe the adults will make an unexpected return - and kick all the silly bloody kids out of the kitchen.

Ron said...

Israelis also look the other way when they see people who actually need it. Get real, its an idiotic ban

Anonymous said...

The use of synthetic marijuana to treat PTSD is quite interesting.

I've never heard of that before. Who knows? Maybe Romney had a point.

Keliata

Anonymous said...

Ah well. I think the only reason the media is hammering him about marijuana is because they want him to admit that it is against his religion, which also forbids the consumption of tea,coffee, and alcohol.

Basically they want to ridicule him and his religion. Can't blame him before being defensive about it.

If he admits that synthetic marijuana should be legalized he's in dutch with his church. If he brings church teachings into the campaign he and his church will be ridiculed all over the place.

The MSM and entertainment media will have a field day.


Keliata

Anonymous said...

So true about the "two minutes of hate".

Anonymous said...

Not to be petty, but:

If "spice" "causes psychosis," then it cannot be a "synthetic marijuana," as marijuana does not cause psychosis. (No really, really rare stories, please.)

Post a Comment