The game's afoot, Watson. And since it's brain-damaging football season, it's being advertised as a sporting event that we're all invited to attend. The agenda is this: rather than acknowledge the most extreme wealth gap in modern history and suggesting legislation ( say, higher taxes on the rich) to do something about it, President Obama will be embarking on yet another propaganda campaign tour to convince us that we're nuts if we continue to believe these times are really all that hard.
The pompom-waving change we can believe in is the changing of the American mind about reality itself. From Politico:
Changing Americans’ sense of the economy is Obama’s critical project for the next two years, and he and his aides know it. His own legacy depends on it — neither health care, immigration reform, opening an embassy in Cuba nor anything else is going to add up to much if most people feel like they’re worse off than the day of his inauguration.
Analysts agree that improving Americans’ sense of the economy is the single most important thing Obama can do for Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic nominee: Whether she wins will most likely hinge significantly on whether the “Obama-Clinton economy” is a positive Democratic slogan or a snide Republican talking point.
But for now, the growing pile of economic data that Obama and his aides believe demonstrate his success digging the country out after the financial collapse hasn’t broken through, and they know it. Wages haven’t kept up, prices keep rising, and Obama seems to be presiding over a period in which Americans’ lives are getting more difficult.This insider's view of the inner workings of the Beltway group-think brain presupposes that the targets of the coming onslaught of propaganda don't read Politico and thus will be totally fooled by the most syrupy bromides to come out of a presidential mouth since.... well, at least since his last weekly address, repeated so dutifully by the liberal pundits I wrote about the other day. Not only are Obama and his stenographers stupidly revealing their own dishonest strategy for all the world to see, they're actually starting to believe it themselves. Obama only seems to be presiding over some of the most truly horrific hard times in modern history. All he needs to do is change the slogan or the "narrative," and all will be right with his world.
“You can’t convince people that their paycheck is going farther than it was — and you shouldn’t try. That would be a big mistake. What you can do is try to affect people’s optimism for the long term,” said a senior Obama adviser. “If we can make people understand that there are reasons for a bright future and the president has a plan to address what ails them, then that will be real progress.”Of course, there is no real plan. There just has to be a perception that a plan is coming down the pike. And Obama's in his fourth quarter and time is beginning to run out! Ever notice how the actual lives of struggling people are always treated as a sporting event to which they are mere helpless spectators? It seems like only yesterday (because it was only yesterday) that I got yet another money-grubbing appeal from "Barack Obama":
Some folks have started to call this the "fourth quarter" of my presidency. In a game, with the clock ticking down, that's when you want your best team out there.As Politico tells it, though, we're still stuck in the pre-game show as the fourth quarter gets underway:
That's what this email is about. It's because of folks like you that I'm able to give this everything I've got in the next two years.
Ideas are still being proposed, vetted through the budget process, nixed and reworked for the State of the Union. But already, White House aides are starting to see some preliminary proposals that they believe will break through to talk about and show where economic progress is taking hold, and trying to spark what they like to refer to as a serious debate about issues middle-class families care about, with possible initiatives ranging from early childhood education to housing.This is just pathetic. One in thirty children in this country is homeless, and they want to spark a debate? "Preliminary" is a word we should hear at the beginning of a presidential term, not near the end of one. But if it isn't the nihilist Republicans, it's the damned travel schedule of the leader of the free world:
But Obama won’t have much time immediately after the Jan. 20 speech to press the message himself. Only a few days after he addresses Congress, he’ll head to India for a number of events with the new prime minister.
Obama aides continue to point back to the speech he delivered at Northwestern as a guide for what’s ahead — “a new foundation,” with “cornerstones” that include investments in the energy, tech and manufacturing; education and job training; health care reform; and structural overhaul.What the hell does that even mean? Paging George Orwell, who in Politics and the English Language eviscerated this kind of muddled thinking. It is so sweepingly generalized as to be meaningless by intent. Obama's largely ignored Northwestern speech and its endless variations are textbook cases of what Orwell called the "defense of the indefensible":
Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.What could be more cloudily vague and hackneyed than a "New Foundation" whose cornerstones include "investments" and "structural overhaul" of education and health care? Brutalities such as 40 million people still lacking medical insurance, and the anti-labor, child-abusive privatization of public education, and the continued offshoring of manufacturing via secretive trade pacts are not cornerstones, but rather huge blocks of cement meant to weigh us down and ultimately bury us.
There are endless variations on the trite tactics of persuasion. When the Edward Snowden revelations got people all riled up, the government surveillance of Americans didn't cease. And nobody went to jail or got castigated in the media except the whistleblowers. The only thing that's had to be changed is people's perceptions that loss of their civil rights and privacy is even a bad thing. It's the same tactic the politicians used when they rammed austerity down our throats. Rather than admitting they are in total thrall to the plutocrats running the place, they couched their slashing of the social safety net in terms of patriotic "sharing the sacrifice" and "we're all in this together."
But there's a harsh light at the end of this tunnel of journalistic and political vacuity. Politico unintentionally admits that Obama's charm offensive will only serve to mask his real agenda: putting the permanent screws to what's left of the working and middle class. In modern Orwellian Politico-speak, this is called "bipartisanship" -- or if you prefer your whammies to be triple ones, "triangulation."
On the Hill, they’re less interested in high-minded talk of principles than clear legislation, with particular emphasis on the corporate tax reform and trade deals that Obama and his advisers have for months identified as their best chance for striking deals with Republicans.
“He has every right to go out and talk about his message. But he ought to spend more time up here, working with Democrats and Republicans alike on passing items that will actually help improve the wages of middle-class Americans and provide more opportunity for growth in the economy,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who’s met privately with Obama and offered himself as a bridge for bipartisan economic deals.Portman talks out of both sides of his mouth with the best of them. He moans that Obama isn't coddling him "up here" but then admits that the president is stroking him down there -- that is, meeting with him "privately," and plotting who's going to play the part of the human bridge to Kochtopia in the latest episode of Corrupt Kabuki.
It's political pornography and it's doublespeak and it can only be harmful to our collective mental health if we choose to succumb to it.