Beast Banner March 2007
ISSUE #114
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Features

ArrowSchlep Boys
Failing forward in one act

Allan Uthman

ArrowThe Britney Budget
Matt Taibbi

ArrowEeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe
Blogger and journalist Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog on the hijacking of democracy and more

ArrowObama
The best BS artist since Slick Willy

Matt Taibbi

ArrowSweet Nothings
Lies my paper told me

Allan Uthman

ArrowMenace in Seat 36F
Based on a True Story

Michael J. Smith

ArrowBEAST gets poetic on dat ass!
Saul Williams schools us on Hip Hop and our choice of lunch

ArrowCelebrity Buttholes Will Be the End of Us
A. Monkey

ArrowThe BEAST Melanin / Electability Index

ArrowThe Truth Spin
Sometimes, honesty really is the best policy

Allan Uthman

ArrowTV Highlights
CBSs Numb3rs signals the end of the end of the American Empire

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Departments
ArrowKino Korner: Movies
The Abandoned, Wild Hogs, The Number 23, Zodiac, Reno 911!: Miami, Amazing Grace, Black Snake Moan, Shooter, The Astronaut Farmer, Inland Empire

ArrowBEAST-O-Scopes
As divined by your ethereal guide

Arrow[sic] - Letters
The Pussy of the Christ, How Great We Art, Dumb Shit, PhD, All You Need is Loathe and more

 

Obama

continued - page 2

In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites ...

As far as political positioning goes, his strategy seems to be to appear as a sort of ideological Universalist, one who spends a great deal of rhetorical energy showing that he recognizes the validity of all points of view, and conversely emphasizes that when he does take hard positions on issues, he often does so reluctantly. He is a black man from Chicago who gets away with praising Ronald Reagan, which is not an easy task. His political ideal is basically a rehash of the Blair-Clinton "third way" deal, an amalgam of Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton and the New Deal; he is aiming for the middle of the middle of the middle.

In short, Obama is a creature perfectly in tune with the awesome corporate strivings of Hollywood, Madison avenue and the Beltway -- he tries, and often succeeds, at selling a politics of seeking out the very center of where we already are, to the very couch where we've been sitting all this time, as an exciting, revolutionary journey into the unknown. And while most of what he says and writes is basically some version of the same old tired clichés about family and faith and hope and optimism and "working together" and "getting involved," he adds to those clichés real literary flair, wordsmithing far beyond the range of most politicians. Take this bit about his kids in his book:

... I sat at the dinner table, watching Malia and Sasha as they laughed and bickered and resisted their string beans before their mother chased them up the stairs and to their baths. Alone in the kitchen washing the dishes, I imagined my two girls growing up, and I felt the ache that every parent must feel at one time or another, that desire to snatch up each moment of your child's presence and never let go -- to preserve every gesture, to lock in for all eternity the sight of their curls or the feel of their fingers clasped around yours.

Here's the thing about Obama, the reason they call him a "natural" and a "rare talent." When Hillary Clinton spouts a cliché, it's four words long, she's reading it off a teleprompter, and it hits the ear like the fat part of a wooden oar. Even when Hillary announced she was running for president, she sounded like she was ordering coffee. Obama on the other hand can close his eyes and the clichés just pour out of his mouth in huge polysyllabic paragraphs, like Rachmaninoff improvisations. In this sense he's exactly like Bill Clinton, who had the same gift. He is exactly what is meant by the term bullshit artist.

My usual instinct when presented with this type of Zelig-esque, Eddie Haskell, non-stick personality is to violently reject it. But over the course of the last few weeks I've found myself increasingly amused by the Obama phenomenon. For one thing, he clearly pisses off Hillary to no end. Same with Biden and all of those other windbag jerk-off assholes in that revolting "national security Democrats" clan in the Senate. There is something subtly racist (in Biden's case, not so subtle) in the way these more entrenched Democrats are riding Obama's lack of credentials and acting like the '08 nomination is their birthright, like he hasn't "waited his turn" or something, paid his dues. As if any of these clowns would wait ten seconds to declare for the White House if they had the same odds that Obama has now.

I have no idea who Obama really is, but he is against the war now (and at least never voted for it) and he seems to infuriate the right people. He has people bitching now that he's not black enough, and there are obviously going to be plenty of people for whom he's too black. And both of those groups of people, frankly, deserve whatever's coming to them. So for the time being I'm going to enjoy his rise to the top, the same way I enjoyed reading The Red and The Black -- like another great phony, Julien Sorel, Obama is a perfect mirror of the society he was born to conquer, and his journey upward throws everyone he passes into stark, humorous relief. Whether I'll vote for him is another story. But he's certainly helping make it clear who shouldn't get my vote.

 

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