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Obama(tm), the franchise

By Michael J. Smith on Friday January 9, 2009 08:59 PM

A good friend of mine contributed rather generously to the Obama campaign. (She's feeling a little sheepish about it now, I think, but still isn't ready to say so.) For her pains, she got a few hours of undoubted euphoria on Election Night, and then, today, her mailbox contained an "invitation" to "attend" the Inauguration -- which you didn't need an invitation to do, last time I went to one. (Nixon, '69. I wore a gorilla suit.)

We'll get to the invitation in a moment. What rather shocked my friend -- and delights me more than I can tell you -- was a little ugly smudgy gray-printed brochure, included with the pompous "invitation" itself. Here's the brochure's first page:

You can see all the pages here, if you have a mean sense of humor.

If not, perhaps you'd like to hear about some of the items being offered, as we "celebrate this historic event in US history"? (Think of that: a historic event -- in history, yet!)

But no, I can't do it. I look through the dismal kitsch on offer -- who, In God's name, and in what Prozacked twilight of the mind, designed that butt-ugly poster on the first page? -- and all I can think of is stuff that ought to be there and isn't. The Dead Palestinian Beanie Baby. Strictly limited to a few thousand per year!

Here's the "invitation" itself, in all its spreadeagle Caesarian splendor:

Actually, you need to see the seal a little closer. (Right-click and "view image" gets it really in your face):

What is it with Obama and seals? He has had this problem before. Is there an Albert Speer wannabe lurking in the Obama organization?

Or does the problem go... deeper? Imagery speaks a hell of a lot louder than words -- especially if your vocabulary is limited to half-a-dozen words: hope, change, smart....

To be continued.

Comments (10)


Thanks, Michael! This is truly bizaare, right out of Monty Python! You can almost hear the flatulation issuing from that constipated graphic element at the bottom.


Though she is no fan of state-sanctioned Obama merch, the good friend you mention is not feeling sheepish at all about her contributions. I have it on the best authority.

The poster shows Nerobama as a train driver behind a cow-catcher clearing away his voters. Quite lovely and fitting, albeit vastly inferior in composition and execution to poker dogs on velvet.

Meanwhile, this tends to confirm that Nerobama is indeed Klinton III, the logical evolution of that awful game, the out-Klintoner of of Killary Klinton itself. The core of it all is the ceding of all public verbiage and imagery to political advisors, meaning political marketers.

Hence, the selection and Pavlovian repetition of hot-button words like "change" and "historic." It's just like watching pickup truck ads during football and hearing the word "engineered" 15 times in 30 seconds. The only meaning is to implant awe in the minds of victims who understand neither history nor engineering in any degree.

Al Schumann:

None of my Obamaphile acquaintances regret a thing. I'd of thought the explosion of dork imperial kitsch would get to them, even if the policies didn't. They're sensitive, intelligent people. Cheap hucksterism and shopping channel memorabilia are embarrassing to them. But handing the Republicans a symbolic defeat was more important than anything else. It's a thundering repudiation of whatever it is they'd most like to repudiate.

When something like this flood of infantilizing kitsch pops up, their eyes glaze a little. They're in a happy place, where enraged poo-flinging chimps won't become president anymore and sinister, snarling crooks, who shoot their own friends in the face, and then make them apologize, won't become cyborged eminences grises. That's a button that can be pushed more or less forever. Papa Doc Bush and Reagan gave them the same kind of horrifying freak show. As did the Nixon regime.

It's a powerful button. I suspect the seed of it is implanted in the early school years. Intellectual factory farming does all sorts of dreadful things. When the teacher writes on the chalkboard, "Only Wingnuts Get Culled! Don't Be A Wingnut!", the perky, smart kids pay attention.


Al's put his finger on it as usual. I would only add that when it comes to freak shows, the Carter and Clinton years can certainly hold their own.

Al Schumann:

The perky people can parse presidencies perfectly. MJS, I suspect you weren't perky enough in school. The factory farming didn't take.


It's hard for people to acknowledge that they've been schnookered. That's just human nature.

What's a little more difficult to understand is the eagerness to be schnookered. This, I confess, remains a puzzle.

Al Schumann:

It's speculation, but I think people make a conscious decision to accept a fallacy or delusional construct; they view this self-inflicted harm as an acceptable price for feeling a sense of order in the world. If their own agency has been thwarted and undermined often enough, it's even easier to take the plunge.

"It's hard for people to acknowledge that they've been schnookered. That's just human nature."

Ohhhhhh. So that's what happened to the Israeli people.

Solar Hero:

The kindest thing in the universe is the inability of the human mind to correlate its contents - H.P. Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu (I think...)

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