Media Brainwash, Optimism and the Obama Presidency

7 Nov

As the world greets Obama’s electoral success and associate it with hope for positive change, I remain sceptical. Of whether international politics would become secure with its first African American president.

I suppose my wet blanket has to do with my distrust of a mass media that has been an unquestioning cheer-leader for a candidate that has been placed on a god-like pedestal. Meet Obama, America’s first black president. A previously unknown Illinois senator who caught the world by fire as he burst onto American and international politics by putting himself out there as a potential Presidential candidate promising change. He sought peace and a reversal of the damages that Bush has wrought.

There is something uncanny when the world’s saviour wears a respectable business suit and is portrayed by the media as an extra-ordinary joe during his Presidential campaign. Here is a man who seems to be everything positive to everyone. Obama, the internationalist who is African American, has lived in Indonesia, and has Kenyan roots. Obama, the filial grandson who takes time out of his campaign when his grandmother passed away on the eve of the elections. Obama, the fighter being portrayed as another young Martin Luther King. Obama, the ordinary man who would battle corporate America and alleviate the plight of the poor by transferring money from Wall Street to Main street. Obama, the diplomat, who would resolve the Middle Eastern quagmire by retreating from Iraq.

I have nothing against the new American President but when the world adores a man to the extent of uncritically accepting his vague campaign slogans. Something is wrong. This is public relations at the zenith of capturing public imagination. Political spin which the Lenin would have admire. I can’t help but be sceptical because Obama’s presidency offers me no grounds to cry out in joy.

As John Pilger notes wryly in a Democracy Now! interview after the Presidential election results, ‘anyone was better than Bush and the Bush administration’. I share his sentiments.

The panel who were interviewed in the same show elicited more or less similar responses. John noted that if Obama is for real progress, he would have to destroy the ‘ideological machinery’. In terms of foreign policy, Obama went further than McCain, calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel while promising to scale up attacks in Afghanistan.

Says Mahmood Mamdani, professor of government and anthropology at Columbia University, ‘the [Obama] campaign was full of extreme and contradictory promises and provocations’. He went on to argue that Obama is surrounded by some of the most liberal humanitarian interventionists, what he calls the Democrat neocons.

Ali Abuminah who is an activist for the liberation of the Palestine Occupied Territories, charted the rise of Obama from being a small time politician who supports the cause to becoming a fervent supporter of Israel. I quote, ‘What does it say that the sort of things he was prepared to do just a few years ago he is no longer prepared to do, that he didn’t visit a single Muslim community center or mosque or associate publicly with Arab Americans during the campaign?’

Tariq Ali sums up Obama’s campaign in one swoop, ‘didn’t promise very much, basically talked in cliches and synthetic slogans like “change we can believe in.” No one knows what that change is. In foreign policy terms, during the debates, his—what he said was basically a continuation of the Bush-Cheney policies. And in relation to Afghanistan, what he said was worse than McCain, that we will actually—we should take troops out of Iraq, send them into Afghanistan and, if necessary, go in and take out people inside Pakistan without informing that government’. Unlike Ali, I don’t think Obama will change his opinion on withdrawing from Afghanistan after reading intelligence reports.

As the mass media congratulates on the Obama phenomenon, Ralph Nader, running as an independent, received about one percent of the vote, the highest of any third party candidate. I think that’s good news in a way because Nader’s  campaign managed that much despite the media blackout. To sidetrack a little, even the news that Cindy Sheehan’s campaign for congress lost to Nancy Pelosi is not a dismal failure. According to her blog,  she ‘got almost twice as many votes as anyone who has ever run against Pelosi since she eked out a primary victory in 1987 over Harry Britt, who was also the most progressive candidate’.

As Nader said in another Democracy Now! interview on Obama’s Presidential success, ‘… [Obama] he has repeatedly taken up the positions of the corporate supremacists, not just his latest vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, but a whole string of votes and policy positions. He opposes single-payer health insurance… He wants a bigger military budget. So does the military-industrial complex. His idea of a living wage on his website is $9.50 an hour by 2011. That would make it less than it was in 1968, adjusted for inflation.

… matched McCain in the third debate, … belligerency… toward Russia, toward Iran, more soldiers in Afghanistan, supporting the Israeli military repression and occupation and blockade of Gaza and the West Bank. And virtually nothing about 100 million poor people in this country. That’s why I really fault him, that he played the Clinton linguistic game by talking constantly about the middle class and not mentioning the word “poor.”

And we expect more of him. And I don’t think he has a public philosophy of where corporations must operate in this country. How? Under what rule of law? Under what regulation? Under what vulnerability to litigation in the courts? He’s proud of tort reform, supports the nuclear industry, supports the coal industry. So we’re really talking about just more of the same, in terms of the corporate domination of Washington’.

So you see. Unlike the optimists and those being brainwashed, I don’t think Obama is going to be that saviour…


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