Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Obama bandwagon

By the looks of it, George W Bush was an alien catapulted in from outer space. The millions of voters and hangers-on that made his two terms possible have magically disappeared. Are we really such a spineless species?

The day has arrived. Billions of people worldwide will be watching as Barack Obama is today sworn in as America's 44th President. The epic comparisons are chucked around like confetti. Is this Abraham Lincoln-style history in the making? Is Obama carrying Martin Luther King's torch? Or will today look more like JFK's inauguration, signalling the arrival of "a new, bright, young, fresh America?"

None of this is Obama's fault. Nor is the fact that he's being burdened with colossal amounts of expectation, courtesy of the havoc wreaked by eight years of galloping Neo Conservatism in the White House.

For sure, Obama's inauguration is providing some interesting insight into human nature's deepest sheepishness. We really are a disgustingly spineless species. We don't like to be seen siding with losers. We love licking the winner's arse. We cherish a gushing crowd, we just love the collective hysteria.

Which is why it's easier to find a piece of dandruff in a carpet than spotting a Bush voter or hanger-on. Like post-1945 Germany or post-1989 Romania, it really feels like the Texan guy was catapulted in from outer space and ransacked the place for two terms. Where are the multitudes that made his eight years possible? Where are the defenders of the Iraq war (David Miliband, anyone?), the advocates of Guantanamo Bay, the hordes that went along with the lethal Project for a New American Century?

They've all quietly sneaked out of the way and jumped on the bandwagon. A few months ago Melanie Phillips was having convulsions as she wrote piece after piece about "Obama's Muslim connections", his "multiple links to anti-Americans and subversives" and his embracing of Christianity "as a tactical manoeuvre to get himself elected". She's been quiet on the Obama subject ever since.

Also, look at what the Daily Mail wrote two years ago about Obama. "A drunk and a bigot - what the US Presidental hopeful HASN'T said about his father...". Only last summer, in the same paper, our chum Richard Littlejohn was writing "Obama for President? Don't count your chickens", adding that "while the Messiah clings to a slim lead overall, he trails McCain on a range of policies from energy to national security".

The day after his victory, Littlejohn's tack changed. "Only a dyed-in-the-wool racist could fail to be enthralled and inspired by Obama's ascent to the most powerful office in the world.", he wrote. Not to mention this morning's Daily Mail epic "We will walk together as one, Obama tells U.S. as he honours Martin Luther King Jr hours before becoming President". For a while, anti-Obama pieces in the Mail have been notable by their absence.

The Sun as well, of course. Last July, Trevor Kavanagh called Barack Obama a "snake-oil salesman". Amongst a colour-related pun or two, Kelvin MacKenzie was sneering that "I will only believe there’s no racism any more when they put a white man in charge of Rwanda". Today, in the same paper, you won't find any of that. It's all about "a new day dawns" and "the end of the Bush “misadministration”". Shame the Sun are wonderfully quiet on the the most memorable piece of Bush "misadministration" they staunchly supported: the Iraq war. This morning, the Sun's own editorial oozes industrial amounts of cheese. "Special One" goes the headline, spurting words like "hope and goodwill", "gifted and glamorous", "grace and dignity", "cool dude", "natural commander". You read it and you feel like you've had eight pints.

An old Housemartins song was called Sheep and it went like this:

"When I was young they used to get me counting sheep
But the counting I did was all in vain
Now when I'm tired and I'm trying to get to sleep
I count humans jumping onto trains".


Anonymous said...

It has been a long journey for improvements on civil rights and equality, and with Obama being sworn in, the civil rights movement have come full circle since the "I have a dream speech". I hope Obama can concentrate on increasing jobs, advancing education, and the decreasing of our dependence on fossil fuels.

claude said...

I always find spammers hilarious

Anonymous said...

Melanie Phillips wrote an e, delightful piece on Obama a couple of days ago. It got buried pretty fast but still has over 300 comments.


claude said...

That's right. Typical isn't it. Though she has a point about the Second Coming thing, she just can't help herself. She is basically arguing that Obama is some kind of "Far-left Radical", revolutionary "posing as a centrist".

How do you define Melanie?
Would the word PARANOID do? Too soft, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Great speech by Obama though.
People are already picking at straws, but inauguration speeches are always fairly solemn, patriotic and neutral.