Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Obama, Occupied

Mic Check!  Head Honcho heckled this afternoon at New Hampshire high school.  See the clip here

The full text of the protesters' prepared statement: 
"Mr. President, over 4000 peaceful protesters have been arrested while bankers continue to destroy the American economy.You must stop the assault on our 1st Amendment rights. Your silence sends a message that police brutality is acceptable. Banks got bailed out. We got sold out." 
Although it wasn't clear whether the hecklers were an Occupy group from outside the school, or if the protesters were part of the student body itself, or a mix, their chanting began when the president gave a shout-out to the senior class. He seemed to take the interruption with equaminity, and even addressed the protesters during prepared remarks:
"A lot of the folks who've been down in New York and all across the country in the 'Occupy' movement, there is a profound sense of frustration, there's a profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American dream, which is that if you work hard, if you stick to it that you can make it, feels like that's slipping away. And that's not the way things are supposed to be, not here, not in America. This is a place where your hard work and your responsibility's supposed to pay off, it's supposed to be a big, compassionate country where everybody who works hard should have a chance to get ahead, not just the person who owns the factory, but then men and women who work on the factory floor."
At least he didn't admonish them as Newt Gingrich did, to take a bath and get a job.... or as Karl Rove did, to shut up and stop occupying his American space.  It was a pretty typical "I feel your pain" political campaign speech, and it contained so many usages of the word "folks" I lost count of them all.

"When a politician uses the word 'folks' " writes Noam Chomsky in Hopes and Prospects, "we should brace ourselves for the deceit or worse that is coming." 

All braced up and ready to go.


Denis Neville said...

“The specific political use of folks as an exclusionary and inclusionary signal, designed to make the speaker sound like one of the boys or girls, is symptomatic of a debasement of public speech inseparable from a more general erosion of American cultural standards. Casual, colloquial language also conveys an implicit denial of the seriousness of whatever issue is being debated…Look up any important presidential speech in the history of the United States before 1980, and you will not find one patronizing appeal to folks.”

“Substitute folks for people, farmer, old men, and widows, and the relationship between the abandonment of dignified public speech and the degradation of the political process becomes clear…To keep telling Americans that they are just folks is to expect nothing special – a ratification and exaltation of the quotidian that is one of the distinguishing marks of anti-intellectualism in any era.”

- Susan Jacoby, “The Way We Live Now: Just Us Folks,” The Age of American Unreason

The profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American dream is slipping away…and, according to a new national survey, Newt Gingrich is now number one in the race for the GOP nomination…

“What if nothing exists and we're all in somebody's dream? Or what's worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?” - Woody Allen

4Runner said...

His tongue is a "Folks" waggin'.

Valerie said...

Pretty amazing and sad there wasn't more support for the hecklers. I assume they were high school students.

It is also amazing that there are still people who support Obama enough to defend him like those in the audience. I put it down to the star-struck American mentality around celebrity. Obama is a brand, so he is a celebrity of sorts. I saw it when he visited Australia. He got the same welcome and news coverage as the Queen, Princess Mary of Denmark and Oprah. I guess because I live in the world of the blogosphere, I forget that people still tune into their daily dose of brainwashing and in that world Republican candidates are taken seriously and Obama is being packaged and sold as a good looking, vibrant celebrity politician and the Lesser of Two Evils.

But I still have some hope for America. I didn't last summer but with the Occupy Movement growing and spreading, I do now. Look how much awareness has come about in just the last two months on issues like income disparity and the abusive power of the big corporations. I hope that more and more REAL progressive grassroots candidates will step up to the plate in the eleventh hour to run against bought and sold politicians. I envision internet campaigns which won’t cost very much so politicians don’t have they to sell their souls to get elected. And I hope that more and more people will put this public awareness of the plutocracy and bought government into political action, which is where the REAL change will lie.

I know it is discouraging that in the midst of his constant work for the plutocracy, Obama should be well-received ANYWHERE, but I DO think things are getting better.

Patricia said...

I cringe every time I hear him say the word "folks". Sometimes it means Republicans, sometimes it means Occupy. I guess sometimes it means me. A Harvard graduate should have a better vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

The President said he would listen to them after he made his point. Did he? I never seen any coverage of that. As a matter of fact, I can't find the entire video of the speech at all.

So did the President address Police violence... I think not.


citizen625 said...

You knew when Junior Bush was elected that you were going to get an elitist snob who only protected his own. Now Barry comes along and he is like Cheney constantly sucking up to his betters to get along and be like them.
So here is OWS and Barry gives only the most tepid endorsement of their right to peacefully assemble and be free from police torture tactics. Americans still like to root for the underdog and the Barry braintrust is deficient in using a natural ally to best effect. Kinda makes you wonder who they work for.