Saturday, February 02, 2008

Falling for propaganda

So last night I went to a party, a really great party. The guests were, to a person, smart, well-educated, erudite liberals, and I have fairly high standards. (Yes, I'm an intellectual snob. Sue me.)

But something bugged me. Bugged me hard. Almost all of them will be voting for Obama in the primaries. Nothing wrong with that, per se; Obama is, all things considered, a decent centrist candidate. He's not going to actually fix anything substantial; he's not at any kind of progressive (not even a tepid Edwards-style progressive), but Clinton has the same problem.

What bugged me is why they're voting for Obama. Is his position on universal health care better than Clinton's? Are they punishing Clinton for voting for the Iraq war in 2002? Obama will better restore civil rights and privacy? Has better ideas for the economy? No.

What I heard was a chorus of "Clinton is 'ambitious' and 'phony'."

And I call bullshit.

The charge that Clinton is too "ambitious" is obviously, patently misogynist. It would be ludicrous to charge a man with being too ambitious.

And, in case anyone hasn't noticed, both Obama and Clinton are politicians. They're running for President of the United States. Ambition and insincerity are professional requirements. Few who are sincere and unambitious manage to get elected to the school board, much less President of the United States.

I mean, come on. Obama (so I'm told) speaks with great sincerity, but he speaks without substance, in meaningless generalities. If that's not phoniness, I don't know what is. I don't really fault him for speaking in generalities; anything specific (especially at this point) will get him nothing but trouble. But still.

As Bob Somerby has been pointing out for years, the whole "sincerity and authenticity" narrative is nothing less than pure propagandistic bullshit. Swallow bullshit once and you'll swallow it again: In the general election, the media will portray McCain or Romney (or, God help us, Huckabee) as the "authentic" candidate and Obama as "inauthentic". And half the people who swallowed the "Clinton is phony" bullshit in the primaries will swallow the "Obama is phony" bullshit in the general.

Worse yet, we Democrats are inflicting this bullshit on ourselves. The Republicans want Clinton to win the nomination: It's a hell of a lot easier to be openly misogynist than it is to be racist, and there's a deep well of disgust in the ignorant middle for just the name "Clinton".

If the smart people are still falling for this sort of bullshit propaganda, I just don't see how we have any chance to avoid falling into chaos, civil war and revolution.


  1. Surely "insincerity" is a job qualification for any would-be President. (Like ambition, as you say.)

    I think that a better reason for choosing Obama would be the simple fact that he's not a member of a ruling dynasty.

  2. Surely "insincerity" is a job qualification for any would-be President. (Like ambition, as you say.)

    Indeed it is. How do you lead a nation of 300 million diverse individualists on nothing but your own uncompromising personal convictions?

    I think that a better reason for choosing Obama would be the simple fact that he's not a member of a ruling dynasty.

    I don't think that's a better reason at all. Electing Hillary Clinton after Bill has nothing to do with any kind of "dynasty". Whatever our other flaws, avoiding dynastic politics is the least of our worries.

    This is not rocket science: You should vote for the candidate who best represents your substantive interests. If you vote for any other reason, you are succumbing to bullshit propaganda.

  3. Yeah. The last fricking thing we need at this point is an 'authentic' person running for president. I often think that the whole reason we have fricking politicians is to provide the kind of lies that the US public wants to hear.

    Obama's talk about "Unity" is naive, dangerous and unworkable. His team of foreign policy advisors is slightly less insane than Clinton's, however. And if Obama doesn't get assassinated, he may gain a more reaslitic approach to governing this joint, after noticing that the 'conservative movement' thinks "bipartisanship is date rape", and always has.

  4. I've been hearing the same thing (lacking substance) since his senatorial campaign, also. One of my readers linked to this article, which I think you will find interesting.

  5. I like Obama 'cause he's intelligent.

    And when people say "phony" I believe that they might be referring to the way her laugh makes you want to stab yourself in the eyes and rip off your ears manually. I feel embarrassed when I hear her laugh. I resent her husband making unsustainable claims against her opponents, and I think that if anything is worse than having someone like Cheney like Vice-President, it's having a very conservative Dem like Bill in an unimpeachable position of influence.

    That, of course, is just me.


  6. I agree with you about the "ambitious" criticism. Apparently, it's okay, even expected, for men to be ambitious, but not for women. Anyone who thinks he or she should be President of the USA has to be ambitious. It takes steel balls (or ovaries) to make such a claim.

    If one disagrees with a candidate's claims, fine, vote on that basis. If one thinks candidates should not be, or are not, ambitious, one will end up turning in a blank ballot.

  7. Obama is "intelligent."

    Sure, I'll give you that.

    I guess the implication is that Hillary isn't intelligent. And that's just bullshit.

    No, the real reason you don't like Hillary is because her laugh (which has nothing to do with anything, just like her cleavage and clothes and hairstyle) make you want to stab yourself in uncomfortable places.

    Great way to run a democracy. She may have been just as smart as the other guy, but my god! her laugh!

    Fucking idiot.

  8. bing:

    I don't really understand what you are saying about Hillary Clinton's laugh. As far as I can tell, she laughs like a normal person. In the debates, I thought Clinton acquitted herself well.

    If having Bill Clinton in a position of influence is a problem to you, please keep in mind that there are lots of much less savory influcences that a US president simply cannot avoid. AIPAC, for just one example. Or, the Pharmaceutical Lobby. Or, the corrupt, regressive influence of the Saudi Arabians. Or, our economy's complete, systemic dependence on carbon fuels. As far as I am concerned, the corruption of having a former president in a position of influence is purely bush-league.

  9. The idea that having Bill Clinton in a position of influence is worse than having Dick Cheney in a position of actual power is, with all due respect, as moronic as judging a candidate on her laugh as well as repeating word-for-word uber-retard Chris Matthews' contemptible propaganda regarding Hillary Clinton's laugh.

  10. actually i think this dynasty is really bad for this country...... to have two families control policy and leadership for at least 24, possibly 28 years (and throw in 8 more for the 1980-88 veep) is dangerous, wreaks of political incest and induces a malaise over the population.

    that alone steers me away from hillary --- even tho i know she is smart, capable and ambitious (which i think is a good thing)

    saying all that there is no way on earth i would vote repub anyhow, so she gets the nose-holding vote.

  11. The notion that we should avoid "dynastic politics" reeks of bullshit propaganda.

    I don't see Clinton's candidacy as at all "dynastic" in any important sense. Nobody is voting for Clinton just because she's a Clinton. She's a candidate who happens to have been married to a former President.

    Bush fils candidacy was dynastic: No small few people did in fact support him just because he was Bush pere's son. However, one did not need to simply avoid dynasties to have voted against Bush: One could have easily voted against him on his manifest deficiencies.

    Really, how hard is this? Vote for the candidate you agree with on the substantive issues. Neither Clinton nor Obama are likely to do anything egregiously illegal or unconstitutional, so there aren't any abstract reasons to vote against either one.

    (In the same sense, there are two or three conservatives who might rightly vote against their immediate interests in the interests of preserving our constitutional government.)

    Good gravy! Vote the god damned issues people. Don't just supinely lap up the bullshit the media is spoon-feeding you.

  12. I'd have to agree with the call of "bullshit".

    I think personally I'm wanting Obama because I don't like anything coming out of the mouths of Republicans and I do worry that there's too much ignorant bias in the country towards Hillary which would make for a Republican win. I really wish I could feel good about Obama for being Obama rather than for not being someone else. That committed christian brochure was a punch in the ball sack for me.

  13. I do worry that there's too much ignorant bias in the country towards Hillary which would make for a Republican win.

    I think you're over-thinking this. The anti-Hillary bias is in the media propaganda; Hillary was very popular before Tweety (Chris Matthews) and the gang of retard CNN pundits started bashing her without pause.

  14. There aren't any candidates left with whom I "agreewith on the substantive issues". So the only choice I have is to vote for the least offensive of the bunch.
    Some choice: self-serving liars or self-serving liars.


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