Last week next door, on The Pond, I posted excerpts from a piece by Brit essayist John Pilger on the phenomenon of "Brand: Obama." Though I do not now recall the first iteration of it, this is obviously a meme, now, as it's been picked up and elaborated elsewhere, notably by AdAge as long ago as February, 08. Early this week, all-american columnist/combat-reporter/doomsayer (I LIKE his style) Chris Hedges offered his measured contribution to the analysis:
...(To say NOTHING of his documented betrayal of working folks on the Bankruptcy Bill of 2005, in which he played a central, but often ambiguously portrayed role. Read David Sirota on the matter. W)
Brand Obama offers us an image that appears radically individualistic and new. It inoculates us from seeing that the old engines of corporate power and the vast military-industrial complex continue to plunder the country. Corporations, which control our politics, no longer produce products that are essentially different, but brands that are different. Brand Obama does not threaten the core of the corporate state any more than did Brand George W. Bush. The Bush brand collapsed. We became immune to its studied folksiness. We saw through its artifice. This is a common deflation in the world of advertising. So we have been given a new Obama brand with an exciting and faintly erotic appeal. Benetton and Calvin Klein were the precursors to the Obama brand, using ads to associate themselves with risqué art and progressive politics. It gave their products an edge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake a brand with an experience. (Emphasis supplied. W.)
Obama, who has become a global celebrity, was molded easily into a brand. He had almost no experience, other than two years in the Senate, lacked any moral core and could be painted as all things to all people. His brief Senate voting record was a miserable surrender to corporate interests. He was happy to promote nuclear power as “green” energy. He voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reauthorized the Patriot Act. He would not back a bill designed to cap predatory credit card interest rates. He opposed a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872. He refused to support the single-payer health care bill HR676, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers. He supported the death penalty. And he backed a class-action “reform” bill that was part of a large lobbying effort by financial firms. The law, known as the Class Action Fairness Act, would effectively shut down state courts as a venue to hear most class-action lawsuits and deny redress in many of the courts where these cases have a chance of defying powerful corporate challenges.
One thing about a product, like Obama: they don't do any more than they are DESIGNED to do...