Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Meet the New Boss! Same As the Old Boss: Part One

Every nation sets aside time for periodic bouts of collective narcissism and bumptious, obstreperous chest-thumping. In America, this is known as a “weekday”.

This weekday is special, though. This is Inauguration Day, which rivals July 4th as the day most likely to inspire American pundits to lubricate their innate chauvinism with gooey dollops of a cartoonishly whitewashed national mythology and rub themselves to self-adoring bliss. Ah indeed. ‘Tis Inauguration Eve.

We’ve seen a young, charismatic Democrat rise from humble beginnings to run a presidential campaign on a reformist ticket against a tired, dispirited and discredited Republican machine. But enough about Bill Clinton. This is Barack’s day—a day that has been described as “unprecedented” and “historic” but is, in fact, about as “unprecedented” and “historic” as my last trip to the dentist. I call it the “Redundancy of Hope”.

Really, we’ve been here before, have we not? So, a virile Democrat “outsider” roars onto the scene promising to “reform” the system, restore America’s prestige, and re-ignite the flame of “hope” in the hearts of Americans. Golly. Sounds ever so slightly like this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy and this guy. That’s a lot of reform, a lot of prestige, a lot of hope, and--in each case but one--a lot of ludicrously over-hyped and quickly disappointed nonsense.

I suppose, given the child-like need of Americans (and quite a few Canadians, it seems) to see this event as something epochal, it really is churlish and ungracious to point out the absurdity of the hysteria, but I’m going to do it anyway, all the while knowing full well that nothing I say will stay the hands of the homies high-fivin’ in the ‘hood nor dampen the ardour of middle-aged spinsters and soccer moms swooning with jungle fever at the blush-making thought of their Commander in Chief’s cute ears, chiselled abs, luscious lips, and long, um…fingers.

We haven’t had to wait for Obama’s Inauguration speech to cringe at the American need to Stalinise their history. The man of the hour started the myth-making early, during his last radio address, when he described the pending ceremony thusly: "For the forty-third time,” he said, “we will execute the peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next".

Indeed. The presidential chain of succession has never been marred by violence. Abraham Lincoln “peacefully” relieved Jefferson Davis of his duties as President of the Confederate States by annihilating his army and methodically extinguishing huge chunks of Southern culture. Lincoln then “peacefully” handed over the office to Andrew Johnson after being made indisposed by a bullet to the head. William McKinley, James Garfield, and JFK also “peacefully” sashayed into retirement by way of rude meetings with hot lead moving at rather inconvenient velocities.

Really, do Americans read books? Do American presidents read books? They certainly insist on writing the damn things, badly.

The “historical” feature of Obama’s presidency is ostensibly predicated on the fact that he is black. Sadly, Obama isn’t black. Granted, he is the first American president who would have found himself on the wrong side of the Nuremberg racial laws, but one rarely sees the press put the case quite that way. I guess “First black president” sounds better and makes Americans prouder than would something like “First president who would have been barred from civil service employment in the Third Reich”.


To be continued

11 comments:

Kel Morin-Parsons said...

Darling, Pete Townshend rang. He's going to have you killed "all kinds of dead", apparently.

-Lady F.

Aeneas the Younger said...

You old tory rogue you!

The adulation of a US Head of State by many Canadians is so patently absurd that I won't even begin my daily diatribe on the matter.

Obama is an American - which means that he will pursue the American national interest (as he sees it) at the continuing expense of those who are not Americans. (read: us)

Any Canadian that believes otherwise is a fool - or a child.

I have friends in Toronto whose children were forced to watch the inauguration at school - A CANADIAN SCHOOL if you can believe it !

How much officially lower can we slink?

liberal supporter said...

I thought the white folk were very nice by not incessantly pointing out his white half. Calling him "black" is a final repudiation of the various "one drop" laws of the sordid past.

I find the inauguration a huge relief, since by all accounts there is now an intelligent cool headed holder of the nuke codes, rather than fools.

Sir Francis said...

How much officially lower can we slink?

Tragically, that is not a rhetorical question. Watch the pandemonium when Obama makes his first state visit here. It'll be all four Beatles (circa 1964) rolled up into one middle-aged American lawyer.

I can already hear the poor man muttering under his breath while maintaining a polite grin: "Christ, what a bunch of rubes! I'm not from freakin' Mars".

Sir Francis said...

Calling him "black" is a final repudiation of the various "one drop" laws of the sordid past.

Ah, but the precise opposite is true: the fact that Obama's "blackness" cancels out his "whiteness" is a glaring case of the One-Drop psychology at work (part of the U.S.' sordid present, I'm afraid).

...by all accounts there is now an intelligent cool headed holder of the nuke codes...

Yeah. It's the guy who hired Hillary Clinton--she of the "I'll obliterate Iran" soundbyte. Should I sleep more soundly tonight?

Ryan said...

Agreed, Sir Francis.

While I must admit that this story is very appealing, it's pretty much just that.

There is only so much one can do when you're at the top of an Empire. Even the most well-intentioned Roman Emperors still oversaw crucifixions.

Peter Burnet said...

More grumbling from the Eeyore nation.

Ti-Guy said...

As long as you're talking, there'll be grumbling, Petey.

Aeneas the Younger said...

"The original Eeyore is very British, embodying as he does a mixture of pessimism, stoicism, sarcasm and cynicism, all qualities common to the stereotypical British character. Moreover he expresses these attitudes in dry, deadpan humour, again typically British. In her book Watching the English, author Kate Fox lists "Eeyorishness" as a fundamental British characteristic."

Guilty as charged, I suppose.

Sir Francis said...

More grumbling from the Eeyore nation.

I never thought I would see the day when a comparatively articulate man would offer repartee that makes "fuck you" look like a devastating sally of rapier wit.

I guess Peter's a big fan of American Democrats; clearly, it's just the Canadian version he loathes. How spiffingly quaint.

Ti-Guy said...

I guess Peter's a big fan of American Democrats; clearly

I think he's insane, quite frankly. But then again, all the populists have been driven nuts over the last eight years.

Serves 'em right for being such credulous rubes.