White Fungus #11- Editorial on the Obama Culture

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May, 2010

WHITE FUNGUS– Welcome to White Fungus Issue #11 – some falling debris from Taichung City, Taiwan.

Well it’s been a pathetic year for hope, peace and change.

Despite the mood for self-congratulation among liberals and progressives following the election of Obama, the ones with real cause to celebrate were the marketing gurus who ushered in the new feeling of ‘Yes We Can.’

Pipping corporate luminaries such as Apple Computers and Dell, “Brand Obama” was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008. The Age’s executives put it succinctly “as we have been marketing candidates like commodities ever since Ronald Reagan, I think this was the best we ever did.”

It was the triumph of feeling and spectacle over achievement of specific policy pronouncements. And despite escalating wars, the capitulation to Wall Street and pseudo posturing on the environment, for many the rallying cry is still ‘patience’, ‘give it time’ and ‘it’s not easy.’

In the face of massive global catastrophes the call is for measured incrementalism towards meager and unsubstantiated goals.

There’s been a tendency to view Obama – the kind of guy liberals would like to have a beer with – as some kind of friend, sweetheart or long lost family member, rather than as the one thing he ascertainably is, a politician.

And while liberals and progressives are now getting antsy, as their positions become increasingly untenable, and their fantasy turns into a nightmare. When it comes to criticizing Obama, the gloves are very much still on.

Talking to Larry King before the recent Afghanistan surge, Michael Moore, one of Bush’s most prominent critics, rallied against escalation but had nothing but praise for the new Decider in Chief.

“I think it’s impressive that he’s a thoughtful man. It’s great to have a smart person in the White House who really thinks about the cost of human life before making a big decision like this… I am so glad we have that man in the White House, even though I may have, whatever disagreements… I know this is weighing on him and I’m going to trust in all my heart that he’s going to make the right decisions….”

Even before the election, Naomi Klein warned Obama supporters that “if you’ve proven you’re a doormat, you can pretty much expect to get stomped on.”

And that has clearly been the pattern for this administration to date: dangle a carrot, such as the ‘public option’ to employ progressives as foot soldiers, then pull the rug out towards the end of the process, tout victory and enact corporate-friendly ‘reform.’

In his prescient article Are Liberals Pathetic?, Chris Hedges quotes Ralph Nadar who asks “What is the breaking point? The escalation of war in Afghanistan? The criminal war in Iraq? Forty-five thousand people dying a year because they can’t afford health insurance? The hollowing out of communities and sending jobs to fascist and communist regimes overseas that know how to put workers in their place? There is no breaking point.”

Hedge concludes: “So here we are again, begging Obama to be Obama. He is Obama. Obama is not the problem. We are.”


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