The voodoo campaign
Pop singer Kelly Clarkson, ostensibly a Republican, told the UK Daily Star that she just can’t bring herself to vote for Mitt Romney. “I can’t support Romney’s policies, as I have a lot of gay friends, and I don’t think it’s fair they can’t get married,” she explained.
Hopefully no one will tell Clarkson that Obama is completely useless in the matter of her gay friends getting married. Up until a few months ago, he held essentially the same position on gay marriage as Romney. Then he unveiled his great “evolution” on the issue… but said he remains convinced the issue should be decided at the state level. He repeated this position in a hard-hitting interview with that bastion of serious journalism, MTV, just a few days ago, insisting that “for us to try to legislate federally into this area is probably the wrong way to go.”
The state level is pretty much a stalemate on the gay marriage issue at this point, with most of them against it; the populace has voted against gay marriage every time it has been given the opportunity to do so. Obama doesn’t offer much beyond rhetorical support for the redefinition of marriage – which is not without value, since a campaign to sway popular opinion is generally helped by vocal support from the President. But for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, every other consideration shrivels away into nothingness compared to rhetorical support for this single social issue. All of the things Barack Obama has done to the United States – from permanent high unemployment and stagnant GDP growth, to crushing levels of national debt, to the bloody disaster in Benghazi – matter less than what he will say about gay marriage.
This is just one example of the voodoo atmosphere surrounding Obama’s campaign, in which symbolic gestures magically acquire importance beyond facts and figures. On Monday, the President assured MSNBC’s morning hosts that his “first order of business” in a second term would be… deficit reduction. Even the all-in cheerleaders at MSNBC should laugh out loud when the author of America’s $16 trillion debt, whose own fanciful budget proposals project titanic deficits until the end of time, claims to be concerned about the national debt.
And even though a panicked Obama was claiming he had nothing to do with those sequestration defense cuts or Taxmageddon in the presidential debates, today he was praising them as “forcing mechanisms” for “getting our deficits and debt under control.” The key to understanding how the biggest spender in the history of human civilization can claim to be a “deficit hawk” is to realize that for Obama, the phrase “deficit reduction” is merely a symbolic label for tax increases. The two phrases are utterly synonymous to him. If he secured $200 billion through tax increases but spent $800 billion more in the same year, he would still congratulate himself for “deficit reduction,” and he’d be able to pass a polygraph test while doing it.
This reliance on symbolism is one of the reasons Obama’s campaign appears so childish, and is increasingly pitched to an adolescent mindset. Much laughter ensued among conservatives when the Obama campaign was boasting of his fearless courage in protecting Big Bird’s lavish public subsidies, but the Big Bird thing was symbolic magic to Obama: he cares more about Sesame Street, therefore he cares more about children.
Likewise with the “binders full of women” comedy act, which was the political equivalent of putting a hex on Mitt Romney – his alleged habit of keeping the resumes of female applicants for government office inside binders was supposed to evoke a sense of callous indifference, the symbolic-magic equivalent of stuffing women into a drawer and forgetting about them. (To the extent that anyone who jumped on the Binders Full of Women Express actually cares about the details, during the second presidential debate Romney actually told a story about other people presenting him with binders full of qualified resumes, and the binders were prepared by Massachusetts womens’ groups.)
Now comes the ultimate expression of Obama’s voodoo campaign style: an incredibly creepy video created by a San Francisco public relations firm, in which somnolent children sing about a dystopian future in which Obama’s prospective ejection from office has destroyed both civil society and the planet: “Imagine an America where strip mines are fun and free, where gays can be ‘fixed’ and sick people just die, and oil fills the sea,” they croon. It’s a musical effort to conjure all of Barack Obama’s straw men from a haunted pumpkin patch. Once upon a time, Hillary Clinton wrote that it takes a village to raise a child; now it takes a Village of the Damned to re-elect a failed President.
Yes, it’s disgusting to use children as political props for this kind of hyperbolic nonsense, and American voters deserve better than to be stampeded into the polls like panicked sheep, but this continued focus by Obama and his supporters upon children and young people as props is a crucial element of this entirely symbolic re-election effort. The goal is to communicate a level of compassion within Obama, and corresponding level of frigid inhumanity in Romney, that trumps everything Obama has actually done, and failed to do. He deserves another chance because he cares so very much.
And if the targets of this messaging are willing to impart such deep, soulful wisdom to Obama – absorbing the symbolic content of the messages even if so many of the details are demonstrably false, or even absurd – they’ll become much more receptive to the core Obama 2012 message, which is that no one could possibly do a better job than he has, given the ravages of the immortal monster George Bush. It’s got to be working with someone, or else this wouldn’t be a close race.