You can buy Obama and wear Obama all over your body. You can read Obama at the beach, stick him on your toddler, your dog and your cat. You can cover your car, your house and your barn with his stickers. And, if you are truly lucky, you may even win a chance to spend 72 seconds in his presence before you are firmly ushered out to go back to your Obama 2012 car and drive back to your Obama 2012 yard sign where your dog is barking for food in his “Obama Best Friend” collar and then sit down to read through the Help Wanted ads in the paper while wearing an Obama Hope Lapel Pin.
The price of meat has risen sharply, going up by a dollar to a dollar fifty a pound since last summer, and beef consumption has fallen to an all-time low. But that’s okay, because you can still grill your burger in an Obama 2012 apron while using an Obama grill spatula to embed the Obama 2012 logo into the meat that your family eats. At 40 bucks, the grill spatula isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s a bargain compared to what another four years of Obama will cost you. And the burgers with Obama 2012 on them are a date stamped in time, reminding you that, if Obama wins in 2012, pretty soon you won’t be able to afford meat at all.
There’s an old joke about an honest politician being a man who stays bought. And while you can buy hundreds of dollars worth of ObamaCrap 2012, you don’t have the money it takes to buy Obama. That’s reserved for the bundlers and the billionaires, who get their payoff in the form of bailouts and stimulus packages. Al Gore gets a 500-million dollar loan to build cars in Finland, Solyndra executives get another 500-million for their 100 thou worth of donations and Warren Buffett gets billions in bailout profits. But you get to take home a 15-dollar dog collar with your master’s name on it.
Obama’s supporters can buy tickets to the inauguration, buy lottery tickets to win a dinner with Obama or a chance to feel Obama’s sweaty arm on their necks for 3.5 seconds in an Instagram photo. They can buy Obama merchandise, share Obama on social media and do all the other free promotional grunt work that fans are tasked with in the social media age, but all they are ever going to be are spectators.
No matter how many shirts reading, “We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For” get lugged around an impoverished country by tired UPS men in brown; there has never been a “We” here. Obama is an “I” guy and whatever “We” there is, is strictly limited to the kind of people who don’t buy t-shirts, but who buy energy companies and banks.
Obama is for sale, but like the 100-dollar reusable tote bags, you really can’t afford him. And unlike the bags, you won’t be able to afford him even if you skip a lot of meals this summer. The “Win a Dinner with Obama” and “Win a Family Photo with Obama” and “Win a Lock of Obama’s Hair” entries are meant to create the illusion that Obama is affordable. That you can buy access to him the way that you can buy his t-shirt.
While his website pitches branded bangles, running shorts, baby bibs, golf divots, blankets and a “Michelle 2012″ gold pin, the real action is happening where the big men and women are being pitched more tangible benefits of another four years from a guy who spent 5 billion dollars a day. An administration which in its first term compelled every American to buy health insurance as a penalty for breathing has a lot to offer its crony capitalist billionaires. And the benefits don’t have anything to do with “history”; only with “profitability.”
The best con artist makes you pay for the privilege of being robbed. He doesn’t just take your money, he convinces you to buy his t-shirt too.
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