Obama As Symbol

If Obama is a symbol, what does he represent?

Every major politician represents some kind of an archetype. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan all represented the friendly, personal, optimistic image of the can-do American type we associate with leadership in most fields. Franklin Roosevelt represented the kindly, paternal patrician, a type still in evidence at that time. George H.W. Bush was very much a man of this type, but their day had past, and particularly as a Republican he was caricatured as an out-of-touch elitist.

Obama gets many points for his speaking, but his personality is not something we associate with the man at the top. He has a coolness that passes for deepness, but try to picture him in charge of a football team, a company, or a city or state, and you can’t do it- only the mist of mythical mystery that surrounds POTUS allows him to fit into the image of the office.

Wretchard noted a David Broder column praising Janet Napolitano- briefly he says “It’s OK, she’s a friend of mine.” Who gives a crap whether she is David Broder’s friend? It’s horribly incestuous. However, the elite establishment has been rallying around “Obama”- what the man symbolizes, rather than the individual himself- since September 2008. Peggy Noonan’s brown-nosing is a little less obvious, and David Frum’s has been expressed more as attacks on Republicans, but it all amounts to the same thing.

Obama simply represents the class of people operating the American socialist state- maybe fascist or corporatist are better terms, but they all boil down to the same thing. This class wants to be firmly in charge, and they were getting the feeling that in the Bush years a little bit too much power was in the hands of the hoi polloi. That Bush was constructively a New Deal liberal, that he didn’t really oppose them at all, wasn’t really the point. He was not 100% with the program and he was influenced by people who were not 100% with the program.

Popular disgust with Bush led to a liberal shift in the ’06 elections. That wasn’t enough. For some reason the financial meltdown- engineered by Ivy League JDs and MBAs- proved to them it was more important than ever that Ivy League JDs and MBAs, along with a few MAs and MPHs, have a tight grip on the system.

A vast section of proledom follows along with these people, those who have been provided jobs executing the program- people in education, healthcare, and government. Another big section is less keenly devoted, but votes Democrat out of habit. With the people who were tired of Bush, and saw McCain as more of the same, an electoral majority was formed.

That’s all fairly obvious, but why did nominal conservatives, or at least nominal Republicans like Noonan, Frum, and Colin Powell go along? Because, as Moldbug says, everybody is really a New Deal liberal. The New Deal state- quickly organized in 1933, rapidly expanded in the next 15 years, further expanded in the 60’s, is the American state. Even Ronald Reagan didn’t want to dismantle much of it, nor his followers, they were only after the excesses of the 60’s aimed at funding rebellious inner city minorities and the far left.

The New Deal state is huge and controls every aspect of American life. Just the organs controlling financial matters are all-controlling and ubiquitous, and there are many others. Moldbug says the bureaucrats themselves control all of this, with essentially no supervision; I think that is a stretch. The legislative branch passes the legislation that controls and is used for control by these agencies, and provides their funding. Once any agency is established, it essentially lives forever, but it is always subject at the margins to new legislation and funding constraints. It creates its own lobby, a not insignificant member of which is itself; but to say it’s unanswerable is going too far. It also creates its own counterlobby, which provides plenty of work for Republican legislators and lobbyists in keeping it under control.

Needless to say this apparatus employs a lot of people, and is regarded by many as essential to the well-being of the nation. The fact that our army of financial regulators did nothing to stop the greatest swindle in history, and in fact helped it along, does not register. Among people close to the state and its associated institutions, the belief became strong that the experts must be placed firmly in charge again, and they would know what to do. That Barack Obama, with his thin and dubious resume, would qualify as an expert is dubious; but he speaks well and has an Ivy degree. That such weirdos as Janet Napolitano and Kevin Jennings would qualify as experts is even more dubious, but they are part of the package.

All conspiracy theories and fringe ideas aside- I hope I have made clear I’m just your average Republican, I think Ron Paul is a moron and I support a fiat currency and fractional reserve banking- these experts have never been terribly useful and exist mainly to make people feel better. They don’t know what they are doing now and are probably going to do more harm than good. The tools they use have rapidly diminishing returns. A little financial regulation is necessary and helpful, but it does not then follow that a lot is better. A little Keynesian stimulus may keep things rolling, but government deficits as a yearly thing are not going to help.

Monetarism is the latest god to fall. Moderate right to moderate left everyone was convinced that finally the economy would be managed and the business cycle would be moderated forever. But if there is no business cycle, credit can be extended very generously with profits assured, because the borrower will always be able to repay, right? And we see how that worked out.

I think the age of the expert is coming to an end. The unwashed masses know something is terribly wrong, and just because they can’t describe exactly how or why doesn’t mean they are wrong. The New Deal state then loses its reason for being, and all that’s left is a vast web of graft and patronage. That’s plenty to keep it going, but not enough to keep its respectability.

Obama the man seems to be getting a bit worn out by all this. “Obama” the movement of New Deal experts seems to be in over its head also- if you can’t keep a guy who’s own father reported him directly to the CIA off an airplane, a lot of people are getting paid for nothing.

The system can go for a long time on momentum alone. How much longer will that be?

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About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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