Overexposed?

Never before in our nation’s history has a president so ruthlessly dominated the air waves as Obama. The citizens of this nation are bombarded daily with interviews, news conferences, behind-the-scenes footage, and commercials featuring Obama.

Some days I wonder how the guy has time to run a country. I am truly in awe of how he manages to squeeze in a Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting in between the filming of a United Way commercial and an appearance on David Letterman. How does the man do it?

It used to be a big deal when the President was on T.V. The whole nation would tune in to watch because it must be the State of the Union address or a declaration of war. Now, though, it seems a single day does not pass where Obama’s face is not plastered to our television screen. Decisions used to be made by the White House without the need of a nationally televised news conference to talk about it.

We must then ask ourselves the bigger question: why does Obama pounce on every opportunity to shove his image down our throats? Is he already beginning the campaign for 2012? It would seem so.

Is he suffering from over exposure? His recent approval ratings say so. According to last week’s Rasmussen Poll, 41 percent of the nation strongly disapproves of the way he is performing his role as President. The failing economy isn’t the only reason either. Enough is enough.

People are turned off by the constant self promotion. It is almost like “the little boy who cried wolf.” We never know which public speaking engagement is of national importance or merely another photo-op. He is demeaning the office of the presidency by spending more time keeping up his public appearances than actually doing his job. No, Obama, we don’t need video of you bowing down to some dictator in the Middle East, shaking the New York Yankees’ hands, signing copies of your new autobiography, or even sharing a cigar with world leaders on the White House lawn. There are some things we just don’t need to see.

Mr. Obama, I know you are multi-talented, but can’t your celebrity career hold off until after your term in the White House? I am sure we would all appreciate it.

35 thoughts on “Overexposed?

  1. I agree with you. I think that Obama's overexposure is a weird, calculated attempt at saturating popular culture. I mean I guess he is saturating popular culture but I believe the overexposure will hurt him because it is becoming silly. He is on T.V. and you know it's going to be for a "jobs summit" or some crap.

    1. Calculated and saturated yes, but get used to it. It's the future of political campaigning.

      Clinton took the presidency into pop culture. George W. Bush invented the "permanent campaign." Obama fused both together and now we have the permanent campaign in pop culture.

  2. American politics descended into the realm of the trivial a long time ago. Every president is guilty of it. Before we had the prime time Obama, we had the Hollywood Reagan. Image saturation galore. Before we had Obama bowing to whoever you are upset about him bowing to, we had Bush flirtatiously holding hands with Saudi royalty. And we had plenty of video footage to go along with it. It's an old, old story.

  3. I'd like to know when it became the duty of the president to promote volunteerism and responsible fatherhood. Doesn't he have a war or something to worry about? I wasn't aware that the role of the president was to be my Big Brother.

  4. That's not Orwellian. It's Puritan. (To the degree that those two things do not overlap.) Like it or not, it's a distinct part of our national and religious heritage. And again, it clearly did not begin with Obama.

  5. I have never heard Obama advocate personal responsibility. His response to every problem is bigger government and not self-reliance. So, I think we can stop kidding ourselves there.

    His version of volunteerism focuses on the surrendering of oneself to the good of the community, which sounds incredibly statist. Of course, he's not the first president to do so, Wilson, Roosevelt, and Johnson have all done the same thing. Obama's talk of sacrifice and service is not referring to service to individuals, but service to the community or state. It's an important distinction to make, as they mean completely different things.

    If Obama cured cancer, it wouldn't matter. If he succeeds in nationalizing healthcare, no one would be able to have access to the the treatment. But I digress.

  6. "His version of volunteerism focuses on the surrendering of oneself to the good of the community, which sounds incredibly statist."

    Actually it sounds communitarian. You can have a community without having a state. If he was a statist, he would probably be advocating the surrender of oneself to the state, and not the community.

    I'm mincing words, I know. It sounds trivial, doesn't it? About as trivial as the argument that Obama is "ruthlessly" dominating the airwaves. Or that he is playing "Big Brother." When I was a little kid back in 2001, I used to think it was cool to say that Bush as a "fascist totalitarian" and "Orwellian" and nonsense like that. I was 13. Then I grew up and realized that I was blowing things way out of proportion; that even though Bush did some terrible and inhumane things, he wasn't a totalitarian, and to call him so cheapened the entire political discourse surrounding totalitarianism.

    But then again, I was 13. What's your excuse?

    1. I'm not entirely sure that you can have an anarchist community. That seems to be a contradiction in terms. A community is organized around one thing and directed towards one goal. State here doesn't necessarily mean national government, but rather government in general.

      While we're being picky, I don't believe I've ever called Obama a fascist totalitarian. I've said that he often trends in that direction, but I don't believe I've ever claimed that he is one.

      Also, I think comparing Obama to Bush is like comparing apples to oranges. To start, Obama is a radical ideologue. Bush isn't. The closest Bush ever got to being totalitarian was with the warrant-less wiretapping. Obama wants to place over a sixth of the nation's economy (i.e. healthcare) under his direct supervision. His Justice Department is in the process of shutting down all opposition to said healthcare plan from private businesses (see BlueCross BlueShield). He wants to further regulate business and private life with that idiotic cap and trade scheme. He's flaunting the Constitution with his unprecedented czar appointments. He's done nothing to address job growth, instead enlarging the size of government and driving more people onto the government dole. He's also shown an open disdain for this country and its institutions. Anytime he travels abroad, he apologizes for this country's history, and he's making a mockery of our justice system by trying those terrorists in New York.

      In short, my excuse is that I'm actually right.

      1. Wow, the conservatism of yester-years has disappeared. All we're left with now are intellectually bankrupt arguments and hyperbole.

        1) Obama is not going to "nationalize health care." Please explain to me how he is going to be in "direct control" of 1/6 of the economy.

        2) "Shutting down opposition?" What does that mean? That seems to imply that Obama is somehow silencing them illegally. You write about politics — I would hope you understand how everyone from private business to main street to the White House try to influence policy. No one is "shutting down opposition." Please explain.

        3) Even if you don't believe in climate change (I doubt you do), reducing our consumption of fossil fuels is good for our health and national security. Oil is a finite resource and we don't have much of it. Do you have a better idea than cap & trade to reduce our dependency on foreign oil? Please don't say drill baby drill — there ain't much here.

        4) "Flaunting the Constitution?" That isn't even the correct usage of the word "flaunt." You do realize that czars did not start with Obama. Many past presidents have used them. In fact, after all the hoopla that was made over Obama's czar appointments, former Reagan and George H.W. Bush officials were defending the President.

        5) The CBO estimated that without the stimulus package, 600-000 – 1.6 million more people would be without a job. Further, they found that it dropped unemployment from 0.3-0.9% and grew the GDP anywhere from 1.2-3.2%. You can haggle with the CBO's numbers, but at least I have evidence to match your hyperbole.

        6) How has Obama shown a "disdain for this country and its institutions?" Say what you will about Obama's actions overseas, but the fact remains that he has dramatically improved our standing around the world. And it is with strong relationships that you actually get things done in global politics. Obama has let other countries know that we are not perfect and we will not dictate to others what to do — we will work in tandem with other world leaders to bring about positive change.

        7) A "mockery" of our justice system? You know what's funny, you're right (in this instance anyway): Obama is flaunting our Constitution. Don't you find it a tad hypocritical to thump your Constitution at Obama only when it's in your ideological interest?

        You're not right — you've only passed off empty rhetoric as factually-based argument. That's why I love to watch Fox News… I pick up all of your talking points.

  7. First of all, please cite a source for your definition of community. There is nothing self-evidently teleological about a community, so if you're going to suggest that "a community is…directed towards one goal" then please cite the dictionary or philosopher from whence this idea comes, because it's clearly a problematic idea.

    Also, "statism" implies the predominance of a centralized and effectively coercive authority, which is generally only manifested on a macro-cosmic, national scale. No one would call a Confederate a "statist" even though the Confederacy had a government. Statism isn't about abstractions of power (which can exist at any level); it is about rigid, material power coming from an organized body that is most clearly visible at a national level. If statism were only about "government in general" then we could call a Presbyterian church "statist." Are you ok with so loose a definition?

    No, you never called Obama a "totalitarian fascist." But you did clearly suggest that he was behaving like a totalitarian. And if you really think that Obama is behaving like a totalitarian, then you should first sit down with an encyclopedia opened to the word, and then consider whether or not you should continue taking yourself seriously. It's the same way with Crowder calling people "fascists" willy-nilly. He called the German Union of Christian Democrats "fascists," for fuck's sake. You CR writers are beginning to use words like blind people playing laser tag.

    Also, I'd love to know what ideology it is that Obama so radically adheres to. Please be specific.

  8. From Merriam-Webster: Community: a unified body of individuals as a state or commonwealth, the people with common interests living in a particular area, a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society, a group linked by a common policy. It goes on for a while but those are the first 5 or so definitions. If you have a problem with the idea that communities are oriented towards goals (or interests as Webster puts it) then I suggest that you sit down with a dictionary opened to the word and then consider whether or not you should continue taking yourself seriously.

    While I had the dictionary out, I also glossed statism: concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extended towards government ownership of industry. I, of course, am quite comfortable with this definition. I was merely arguing that you can have statism on the local level by way of community organization, an idea that Mr. Webster does not seem to contradict here.

    I did indeed suggest that, while noting that behaving like something and being like something are not necessarily one and the same. I also took your advice (though I used the dictionary again- I hope you'll forgive me). Totalitarian: of or relating to centralized control by an autocratic leader or hierarchy, of or relating to a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation esp. by coercive measures. I have argued above that he does appear to be attempting to centralize economic production in this country. This has already happened in several key areas, namely automobile manufacturing and the banking industries. Health care is next on the list. Also, given the discussion of statism above, I think you'll find that he is indeed trending in the direction indicated by the second part of the definition. It's also worth noting that government control of health care is a pretty good way for the government to control every aspect of a person's life, as has been noted in countless other places. These things all indicate that he is trending in that direction. So, I conclude that I must continue to take myself seriously.

    Obama is a radical progressive liberal in the same vein as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson.

  9. Yes, Jonathan, you are absolutely right. Totalitarian governments seek total control over every aspect of the nation, but you have to start somewhere. You can't just wake up and the next day have a totalitarian government. It is a long, gradual process. After all, hasn't our President warned us that to turn this country around may take eight years? Obama is merely taking the first, big step to the long spiral decline into a socialist, maybe even fascist regime.

    1. …according to a revisionist lay-history that few historians accept. We've already established that not everyone buys (or, more properly, very few scholars buy) Goldberg's argument. What everyone should buy is Mussolini's statement that "after Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology."

      Fascists: opposed to socialism and democracy. Fascists: opposed to democratic socialism. Fascists: opposed to the two central tenants of the modern left-wing of the political spectrum.

      1. "For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State.

        The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality — thus it may be called the 'ethic' State…"
        .
        The context of the quote you used was Mussolini's refutation of what he called "Marxian Socialism." He was not quite so opposed to government control of or primary influence over the means of production. From his autobiography:

        "The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity. The Fascist State with its corporative conception puts men and their possibilities into productive work and interprets for them the duties they have to fulfill."

        Hitler, in a 1920s interview (quote originally posted on the Hoover Institution's website):

        "I want everyone to keep the property he has acquired for himself according to the principle: the common good takes precedence over self-interest. But the state must retain control and each property owner should consider himself an agent of the state. . . . The Third Reich will always retain the right to control the owners of property."

      2. Yes, fascism was a collectivist ideology. Yes, socialism can be a collectivist ideology (though there are socialists that reject that label). Both Catholics and Protestants worship Christ. That doesn't mean that Catholicism and Protestantism are the same thing. Christianity, for that matter, also contains elements of collectivist ideology. Does that make Christianity, fascism and socialism all the same thing? Of course not. There are circumstances and contexts and goals (such as the specific purpose of nationalizing industry) which are totally different. This is all to say: fascism isn't defined by its collective nature alone.

        As Mussolini indicates, the fascist state has a "corporative conception." Corporatism and socialism are not the same thing. If they were synonyms, we wouldn't need two different words for them. Corporatism contains an inherent understanding of natural order (from the Latin "corpus," or body; bodies having a natural function for their ordered parts). Socialism has no such inherent conception. Socialists don't think that some people are naturally meant to work and others are naturally meant to rule. That's a corporatist conception, and it fits in perfectly with fascist ideas of national superiority (another idea anathema to internationalist socialism) and master races. It's also an idea, interestingly, that fits in nicely with the Burkean conception of organic social order. Burke wasn't a socialist too, was he?

      3. "This is all to say: fascism isn't defined by its collective nature alone."

        That's basically what I said.

        I do understand that corporatism and socialism have different approaches to ownership of property, especially if by socialism, we mean state ownership of the means of production (as opposed to welfare statism). But both the fascist and socialist approaches are anathema to the liberal democratic way of doing things: both fascist and socialist states of the 20th century implemented strict regimentation and sought to bring the populace in line with the state's way of doing things.

        It is not correct to call Burke, who advocated private property and organic growth (which is the exact opposite of planned growth) a socialist.

        International socialists do indeed loathe nationalism; to see this, we can look at the founding of the EU. After seeing what nationalism achieved for Europe (the death of countless millions), the EU's founding fathers made a move to erase some of Europe's nationalist sentiments by making the nation – and the concept of identity grounded in one's nation, a core fascist tenant – irrelevant. But it wasn't always that way, and not all socialists were international socialists!

      4. Socialism as it exists on the left (i.e., not "national socialism") seeks the control of the means of material production generally for the benefit of everyone, but specifically on behalf of working classes (i.e., not on behalf of the greater glory of the nation), and it generally rejects nationalism. There is such a thing as a nationalist socialism that seeks to downplay class conflicts (though not to eliminate classes, mind you!) for the benefit of the organic social order of a glorious nation. This is a right-wing phenomenon; it is anathema to left-wing socialism.

        And no, of course Burke wasn't a socialist. That was my point. The correspondence of a few minor ideas between Burke and fascism don't link the two any more than the correspondence of a few minor ideas between fascism and socialism. If they did then Burke, by nature of being a fascist, would also be a socialist.

      5. Fine, fine. And here is where we come in, constantly questioning the wisdom of disassociating social and economic progress. I could smugly say that if socialists are on the left, economists are on the right.

      6. And the statement would be witty, but totally ambiguous. How do you define an economist? I can think of decent definitions of "economist" that prevent the inclusion of socialists. It's pretty generally acknowledged that social control of the means of production isn't effective in terms of production and distribution.

        But that doesn't make "economy" a rightist concern. Social democrats follow a strong left wing tradition, and they generally acknowledge the superiority of private ownership of capital and market forces for the purpose of effective production and dissemination of goods, just not for a just distribution of wealth. I'm sure you know Krugman.

      7. Whoops, seems I deleted that comment before you responded, sorry. I did so because that would, as you have pointed out, be an ambiguous statement. And a proper understanding of human behavior can be an important part of understanding how to construct socialist propaganda.

      8. This would be true if collectivism occupied an analogous place for the left that Christ does for Christians. (In essence, a political spectrum where collectivism is the left and individualism is the right.) But it does not occupy that space. There are libertarian leftists and collectivist right-wingers. (The original "rightist" in our sense of the word, the feudal monarchist opposed to the doctrines of the French Revolution, was by nature an organic collectivist.) To accept a political spectrum where everything hinges on the nature of collectivism for a left-right division is to have it both ways. That was my point about the collective nature of some elements of Christianity: if you define the left-right division as you seem to be doing, then the anti-individualism and collectivism of Christianity makes Christianity inherently leftist. This is silly.

        As for Burke, he writes in the Reflections of the need to take our social order, in part, from a natural order. In nature people are unequal, he observes, so in government they should also be unequal. This is an idea shared by fascists, who reject the political equality of all people. (Democratic socialists, the mainstream left, vigorously assert it.)

        "…you {the French} would have had a protected, satisfied, laborious, and obedient people, taught to seek and to recognize the happiness that is to be found by virtue in all conditions; in which consists the true moral equality of mankind, and not in that monstrous fiction, which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serve only to aggravate and imbitter that real inequality…"

        "Some decent regulated pre-eminence, some preference…given to birth, is neither unnatural, nor unjust, nor impolitic."

        "…as to the share of power, authority, and direction which each individual ought to have in the management of the state, that I must deny to be amongst the the direct original rights of man…"

      9. Do you really think some "decent regulated pre-eminence" should be given to birth? I thought this was America…

        I see no reason to say that fascists artificially created inequality. They thought that universal political equality was an unwise, artificial creation of political democracy. So did Burke. I didn't have the heart to provide his disgustingly elitist quote about the self-reflexive indignity of working-class vocations, and how hair-dressers are unfit to play a role in government. But you get the idea.

        I'm glad you can help us all properly understand Christianity, seeing as humanity has had such a hard time with that little endeavor for the past two millennia or so. But just because you have decided that Christianity, properly understood, is highly individualistic, does not mean that Christianity has not had a deeply troubled relationship with philosophic individualism for a very long time. As a Christian, do you believe that you belong to yourself? Many Christian apologists reject this quintessentially individualistic notion. As a Christian, do you believe that you can be properly understood outside of the context of another person or community (i.e., Christ or the Church)? Many Christian theologians reject this quintessentially individualistic notion.

        The existence of free will alone doesn't make Christian doctrine individualistic.

      10. I posted something to this effect earlier, but it didn't show up so here it is again:

        Do you really think some "decent regulated pre-eminence" should be given to birth, as Burke does? Are you ok with forms of hereditary government, as Burke is?

        I see nothing artificial about the fascist conception of inequality that could not be applied to Burke's conception. Fascists thought that political equality was an artificial and dangerous fiction of democracies that didn't correspond with the natural inequalities of man; so did Burke. Why would you interpret his views differently?

        As for the individualism of Christianity, I'm glad that you can provide us all with a proper understanding. Christians have been having a hard time with proper understandings for the last two millennia or so, judging by all the disagreements. The place of the individual in Christianity is a residue of that disagreement. Many significant apologists and theologians today are uncomfortable with (or outright deny) certain important aspects of individualism, such as the idea that people belong to themselves, or that individuals can be properly understood outside of the context of other people or institutions (Christ or the Church, for instance). Charity certainly isn't the only place where Christianity ventures outside the realm of the individual, and free will alone cannot make Christianity individualistic.

      11. Socialism is not defined by the nationalization of industries. It is defined by workers' control of industry. Find me an accredited historian who specializes in the history of 20th-century Europe who thinks that a particular fascist regime was truly representative of its non-propertied workers. Then we can have a serious discussion about the connection between socialism and fascism.

        As for the modern left and democracy, this is from the website of the Socialist International, which is a representative body of world-wide social democratic and democratic socialist movements (i.e., the mainstream majority of the world-wide left):

        "9. Faced with such crucial issues, the Socialist International reaffirms its fundamental beliefs. It is committed, as ever, to the democratisation on a global scale of economic, social and political power structures. The same principles and political commitments which socialism has always held have to be attained in a world that has changed radically since the Frankfurt Declaration of 1951.

        10. The Socialist International was founded a hundred years ago in order to coordinate the worldwide struggle of democratic socialist movements for social justice, human dignity and democracy. It brought together parties and organisations from different traditions which shared a common goal: democratic socialism. Throughout their history, socialist, social democratic and labour parties have stood for the same values and principles."

        I know you honestly think my view of fascism is historically incorrect. You also know that I honestly think that your idea of fascism is historically incorrect. The real difference here is that your view, Goldberg's view, is revisionist. It is revisionist for a reason. It is revisionist because there isn't, and has never been, a significant body of scholarly interpretation that holds fascism to be a left wing phenomenon. If there was, or had been, then it wouldn't be revisionism.

      12. What I find absolutely hilarious about worker control of the means of production, at least where it has actually played out and where the workers who have been making goods have actually been in control, is that it is based entirely upon voluntary action. There is a YouTube video somewhere, that I desperately want to find, of a socialist group praising maybe 20-30 workers in a small factory for banding together to control production. The fact that the socialist group had praised a cooperative, voluntary, private action almost made me roll on the floor laughing.

        Now, worker control of industry is an ideal communistic state that has not really been achieved. Socialist countries usually let politburos run everything.

        I guess we at CR have a problem with the political spectrum. At least, I do. Monarchism and fascism are on the very right, and communism is on the very left, with state socialism fairly close to it. These are all totalitarian ideologies.

        Then, out of the blue, anarchism appears on the far left. I think this is because the spectrum assumes that all humans will eventually band together in an anarcho-communist society and fall in line with the general will, and that this will produce peace and justice in all sectors of society. But anarchy and communism are totally incompatible from my point of view. And I think that if you ever tested my view, you would find something very interesting.

        We would first have anarchy. We would all be standing around a campfire, and because of human nature, I would want the fish that I caught, because I am hungry. I would give some to my buddies and try to eat the rest, but another person would steal the fish from me. So I would make a pointy stick and defend future catches. There is now private property. We have moved from the extreme right to the far-right.

        Thousands of years later, in a country unfortunate enough to move very far to the left, some government would tell me how many fish I can eat, and they would all be caught by robots and given to me at no charge to me. The government would do this regardless of whether or not it is efficient, and would not really care if I don't get enough fish to be happy, because the only thing that matters is that revolutionary feeling of gusto among the general populace. And if the populace loses the gusto, the government cracks down to preserve the appearance of gusto. To me, that is socialism or communism, and that is repression. I know that "ideal" communism has a different view of the end results, but I am saying that that view does not align with human nature very well.

        So basically, I think the spectrum should go from extreme control on the far left to utter lack of control on the far right.

      1. You believe wrong, as "crdaily' above could tell you. Mussolini rejected Marx and the materialist conception of history. (Almost all modern socialists accept the materialist conception of history, by the way.)

        That's ok though, because apparently we have the same middle name. I'm Jonathan Lee Pattishall. You don't happened to be named for Robert E., do you?

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