Saturday, 5 July 2008


his campaign is all the evidence po-mo media theorists ever needed to prove their point -- so much so that if baudrillard were still around he could write a follow-on to his book on the first gulf war to yet again point out the obvious: barack obama does not exist.

the democrats’ “presumptive nominee” is a ghost, a fantasma, a cipher -- upon whom his campaign encouraged everyone to project equally empty fantasies: "post-partisanship," "transcending race," "a new politics," "change," "rise of the creative class," "the new jfk," and, possibly the most cringe-making, "a face to re-brand america." those fantasies are now turning into a nightmare for democrats who were foolish enough to willingly believe and repeat fairy-tales concocted by obama's political marketeers during the long primary season.

obama’s campaign managers and their media whores relentlessly promoted a simple strategy during the primaries: escalate tired feel-good platitudes about him and, by extension, his voters (that a certain kind of middle-income democrat finds irresistible) while tarring all opponents as “low-information,” “lower-class losers,” “frustrated middle-aged feminists,” or – the worst possible insult in a campaign that cannot discuss politics without reducing it to feelings – “racist” and therefore best purged from the body politic altogether.

but, aside from being incredibly shallow, a primary campaign strategy that’s based on playing with emotionally-charged imagery and encouraging empty moral grandstanding (“we are the change we have been waiting for”) at the expense of any substance is very risky. it's bound to lead to massive disillusionment in the general election. and we're starting to see that happen.

now that they believe the general election campaign is in full-swing the obama campaign does one of the only two things it knows how to do: but this time it's republicans who are being encouraged to project their hopes onto obama. and since axelrod, dean & co., (incorrectly) believe that democratic voters have nowhere else to go, the democratic fantasies about obama that they so encouraged in the spring are being ruthlessly shattered in the summer to make obama more marketable to republicans.

this time though there are grounds to hope that in its hubris the oborg has miscalculated and played its cards far too soon. because of obama's cack-handed reversals of policy and tone over the past few weeks, two things have happened among the democratic base: buyers remorse is rapidly increasing within the oborg and hillary's voters are even less likely than ever to vote for the precious. there is still time for the democratic party to say NO DEAL in august in denver.

what amazed me was just how brazenly and ineptly the oborg betrayed their most faithful supporters.

almost immediately after hillary withdrew from the race, the lightworker decided that he didn't really mean what he had repeatedly said about campaign finance reform and threw his former good government allies under the campaign bus. after all, he’d pulled in so much money through a sophisticated bundling operation that he had a seemingly insurmountable advantage over john mccain - why let promises stand in the way of accumulating even more money? and admittedly, some of his more devoted followers like excitable andy did praise the reversal as proof of the dear leader's machiavellian ruthlessness. but others seemed touchingly bewildered by the move: after all, the obamessiah had said he backed public financing, didn't he?

shortly afterward, the symbol of our diversity as a nation showed everyone just how he will treat anyone who has the audacity to be unintentionally remind voters of his muslim background: his campaign forced several women in traditional muslim garb off-stage at a campaign event. muslims now know that they mustn’t dare to smear obama by being anywhere near him. and in case there were any doubt, obama repeated the point, this time to gays, when he refused yet again to be anywhere near the chicago gay pride parade earlier this month.

then, on a roll, the precious one decided that he didn't mean anything he said about being opposed to FISA and voted for it. shock and horror across the “left” blogosphere and among “progressive” obots.

and iraq, the centre-piece of his campaign rhetoric? well, it seems that maybe his ex-foreign policy advisor samantha power really was telling the truth after all when she said – to the BBC on 4 April, far away from any democratic primary voters -- that the precious didn't really mean what he said about withdrawing troops from iraq. obama's "antiwar" pose was a very helpful ploy when he had to campaign against hillary for democratic voters -- even though his voting record was identical to hers on iraq -- but now that republican votes are more and more important his old position has outlived its usefulness. oh, and in case any democrats who voted for flipper are upset about this, he -- the eternal victim -- has a cheeky answer ready: it wasn't me who lied to you, it was the press.

and so on and so forth: obama now is against gun control though he was "for" it before. he's backtracking on NAFTA after pretending to campaign against it in the spring when democratic votes mattered.

and finally -- you knew this was coming, didn't you? -- he's found common ground with republican supreme court justices scalia and thomas on abortion. he's finally got a plausible explanation for some of those "present" votes in the illinois senate that he's so famous for.

in the space of a few weeks, the obama campaign's over-reaching has revealed a truth that's starting to re-shape the entire electoral calculus: barack obama does not exist. what we call barack obama is just an empty void. there is nothing and nobody there. a campaign that relentlessly focused on inane fantasies and symbols (as when andrew sullivan notoriously gave "what does he offer? first and foremost: his face." as his reason for supporting obama) finally showed through its endless betrayals that it has nothing else to focus on after all. and by now even some of his most fervent supporters in the past, from the bloggers at dailykos and firedoglake to the editorialists at the new york times -- are starting to understand the simplest and most fundamental point about obama:
Obama simply cannot be trusted. Obama cannot be trusted on any issue. Obama cannot be trusted by his friends. Obama cannot be trusted by his enemies. Obama cannot be trusted.

luckily for us, democrats still have not chosen a candidate. the convention in denver in august will decide who the democrats will nominate to run for president in november.

superdelegates have a choice: have an open convention and nominate the candidate who fought hard for what she openly believes and who received more votes than any democratic candidate for president in history, or go along with the coronation of obama and face defeat in the fall as more and more voters get to see the void that lies beneath the shiny marketing image.

and if the party leadership do succeed in forcing this shapeless fantasma on us then they need to understand that we own our votes and that we say NO DEAL.