Obama Does Strasbourg


A Public Relations Masterpiece: Brand Obama

 Smooth-talking Barack Obama is a brilliant corporate-imperial bullshit machine.  He is perfectly designed and expertly calibrated to "re-brand" American Empire and Inequality, Incorporated in the wake of the long national and global public relations nightmare that was the Cheney-Bush II period (2001-2008).  He is a genius when it comes to putting the domestic and global populace to sleep and wrapping the authoritarian state-capitalist American System in fake-progressive rebel’s clothing. He is an advertising masterpiece for Superpower’s corporate-managed democracy. It’s why the United States ruling class hired "Brand Obama" – partly out of a desire to overhaul that damaged product line called "Brand USA" [1] – after  a careful vetting process, initiated in late 2003, determined his "deeply conservative" safety to dominant domestic and global hierarchies and doctrines [2]. It’s why the popular consciousness-manipulators in corporate media fell head-over-heels in love with the Obama phenomenon and sold that love with remarkable effectiveness at home and abroad. It’s why I picked Obama as the next president the minute he declared his candidacy [3] and it’s why I’ve been exposing his grand deceptions and his dangerous, oppression-legitimizing essence for more than four and a half years now [4].


To see the master at work in the midst of a global economic crisis triggered by his leading Wall Street campaign sponsors, let’s look briefly at his recent hour-long "town hall" meeting [5] before hundreds of star-struck schoolgirls at the Rhenus Sports Arena in Strasbourg, France. This exquisitely Obamanistic public relations extravaganza was loaded with standard Orwellian absurdities and deletions that have gone unmentioned – also standard – in the usual fawning U.S. press coverage.



"Managing Anger"


In Strasbourg, the President called his trip to Europe an "opportunity to not only speak with you but also to hear from you, because that’s ultimately how we can learn about each other."


Curiously, though, Obama’s Strasbourg theatrics consisted mainly of a forty-minute presidential lecture, with time for a grand total of five tepid questions, the last of which asked Obama if he knew that his first name means "peach" in Hungarian. Obama’s lengthy answers ate up most of the "town hall’s" last 20 minutes.


Consistent with this one-sided balance of "learning" time, the real purpose of Obama’s Strasbourg appearance had little to do with meaningful democratic exchange. It was to placate European opposition to the essentially U.S.-imposed global financial and economic crisis and to the related problem of U.S. imperial policy – the increased level and broadening scope of American violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan above all.  It was about selling the continent on U.S. and England-led neoliberal economic "solutions" that seek to prop up the existing rotten and parasitic economic order by granting massive taxpayer giveaways to the Wall Street (and Bond Street) perpetrators who started the mess in the first place.  As the prolific Marxist geographer David Harvey recently noted on "Democracy Now" while protestors faced down police deployed en masse to protect Obama and other G20 summit-attendees in London last week "what [the Obama team is] trying to do is to reinvent the same system" – to "reconstitute the same sort of capitalism we have had and have had over and over again over the last thirty years in a slightly more regulated, benevolent form" that doesn’t "challenge the fundamentals" [6]. 


As The New York Times acknowledged two Sundays ago in an article titled "English-Speaking Capitalism on Trial," Obama and his neoliberal partner Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, have "focused on ways of revitalizing the [existing] system, often to the exasperation of those among their supporters who would favor more radical measures.  Even as both men have embarked on enormous increases in public-sector spending," Times correspondents John Burns and Landon Thomas noted, "they have maintained that the solutions to the crisis lie in reawakening the markets and recapitalizing the banks rather than tearing at the system’s foundations.  And both, when they respond to private anger at the private sector, have seemed more geared to managing anger than stoking it." [7]


Obama’s trip to Europe was about winning top-down assent to U.S.-mandated top-down pseudo-fixes.  It was about "managing" widespread European "anger" over the fact that U.S. financial mismanagement and militarism have run the world into the ditch.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with meaningfully exchanging ideas with ordinary Europeans.



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