The coach has been reading Alinsky’s Rules for Radical Players which teaches that the only way to win the Super Bowl is by completely changing the rules of the game on an ad hoc basis and that the only way to accomplish this is by taking over the NFL from within. No touchdowns have actually been scored, but the fawning coverage assures us that we are living in a post-touchdown world where the pigskin doesn’t matter, it’s all about the value of the brand.
Cheering for a comeback for that isn’t for halftime, it’s for halfwits. There are baseball and football teams who can never win, but still command passionate followings because they keep losing. The more they lose, the more passionate their fans are about them someday winning. But there’s nothing of the lovable underdog spirit about the people who ran this country into the ground. Instead of projecting the humility of those who tried and failed, they project the arrogance of winners even as they show off a track record that even losers should be ashamed of.
Their folly isn’t that they tried and failed, it’s that they never cared about the game, only about the money and the cameras. They never accept defeat, because they never accepted the rules. They don’t believe in limitations. Theirs is the assertion of the motivational speaker that there are no limits but those you impose on yourself. Or as Aleister Crowley put it, “Do what thou wilt, that is the whole of the law.”
Obama and his merry band of pranksters have been doing what they will. They have made countless rules for us to follow, but there are no rules that apply to them. And facts, like rules, are things that apply to other people. Their postmodern Sheenseque world is one where the assertion of winning matters more than achievement, where being entertaining counts for more than being right. Where it doesn’t matter what the economy actually is, it only matters what it looks like.
The gap between Halftime in America and the reality of Motor City is positively narrow compared to the chasm that stretches between the actual economic situation of the United States and the one set out by Obama in his own halftime in America speeches. We are not recovering, things are not getting better, they are on the verge of getting worse. Rather than making adult decisions, the administration has been as greedy, vicious and corrupt as the former indicted mayor of Detroit.
But Eastwood’s rasping narration was right about one thing. Detroit is showing us how it can be done. Not through gumption, hard work, determination and a little spit– but through government handouts that can’t keep the city together, but can help pay for commercials to encourage us to do it all over again.
Instead of fully compensating America for the nearly 2 billion in losses that we took on the Chrysler bailout, the company has spent the money on Super Bowl commercials touting its comeback. This is like the crook who gets out of jail and instead of compensating his victims, spends the money to take out an ad that boasts of how well he’s doing now. The average cost of a Super bowl spot is 3.5 million for 30 seconds and with a 2 minute running time, that comes out to 14 million dollars. And that’s not counting Clint Eastwood’s fee.
Sure that’s less than 1 percent of the money we’re out for the cost of salvaging Chrysler and turning it over to Fiat, but it might have been nice if instead of spending all that money on an LA ad about how hard the people of Detroit are fighting for a recovery, it had gone to the people who lost their jobs to cover the higher taxes that fund bailouts like these.
At the New York Times, Paul Krugman, the ideological champion of massive deficit spending, cheered the ad as the beginning of a new Democratic optimism, their very own Morning in America. The problem with that analogy is that it actually was morning in America in 1984 or at the very least a balmy afternoon. Reagan could sell optimism, because there was something to be optimistic about.
When Obama and his backers try to peddle optimism, the only thing they have to be optimistic about is themselves. It’s not America that they are optimistic about, only their own prospects for victory. They were pessimists in 2008, now they’re eager to be optimists because the oil tank is half empty when the other guy is driving, but it’s half full when you’re at the wheel.
Halftime in America has that same empty optimism, a working class ethos as can only be imagined by a poet from Portland, who wrote the text, and the director of Your Highness. It isn’t patriotic, it invokes the working class romanticism that you can still see in Social Realism art or North Korean posters behalf of a billion dollar corporation. It champions some vague struggle for progress, without defining what that might be. It tries to connect the plight of Detroit to America, but if that’s so then we’re already doomed.
Like period Communist propaganda, it treats work as a struggle and success as collective heroism, rather than a process. This nationalistic mythmaking disguised the basic reasons for the failures that made all that struggle necessary. Every aspect of Soviet or Communist Chinese industry was such a desperate struggle because the entire system was hopelessly broken. And so there was always a battle on to maintain a steel industry or bring in the harvest. And there always had to be villains who were in the way.
When your enterprises are desperately struggling to survive, then you can either try to romanticize the struggle or ask what is really wrong with them. The same goes for a government that can’t fix the economy, but can issue forty press releases a day attaching the blame to someone else. Halftime for Chrysler is also Halftime for Detroit and Halftime for Obama. None of them actually want people to ask what is really wrong, instead they want us to emotionally and financially invest in their struggle. And if we do that, then we lose the game.
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