Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ENOUGH OF LINCOLN, ALREADY

Sam Smith

I better say this before the new administration declares such statements an act of terrorism: Barack Obama is not the new Lincoln.

The only explanations for such an absurd claim is either dangerous delusion or deceptive propaganda.

Let's hope it's not the first. We have barely survived eight years living with a president who thought he was General Macarthur and deserve a break from high level pathology.

There is no doubt that Obama has a hyper inflated ego totally unperturbed by its underlying lack of achievement, experience or programs, but he is also the product of an era in which the ambitious see themselves as products of an era, which is to say some thing to market rather than a human to be.

Obama believes that, as a public figure, he doesn't really exist; he is an image and upon this recognition his successful campaign was based. The Association of National Advertisers, according to PR Watch, "voted for Obama's campaign over ad campaigns by major companies like Apple, Zappos, Nike and Coors. Ad Age called Obama's historic November 4 win the 'biggest day in the history of marketing,' saying marketers have a lot to learn from his campaign."

One way to think of Obama is as the only American vehicle to have ended the year with increased sales and larger market share - an ethnic hybrid that makes millions feel cool even if they don't know its miles per gallon, longevity, safety or reliability.

Of course, the fact that marketing creates an exaggerated or false image doesn't guarantee that the product itself is flawed. But it is a clue. A number of Obamaphiles have insisted to me that the president-elect is only palling with the right because he wants to soften them up. But if he is that manipulative why can't the left prove just as likely a victim?

Certainly his appointments - the most aggressively conventional of any Democratic president-elect of modern times - suggest that the change we need is no longer foremost on his mind; some are already referring to him as Status Quobama.

In any case, the fun is over. We have to live with our new hybrid until trade-in time. Reality has entered the story.

Obama, however, seems to think that any faults the vehicle may have can be overcome by even more marketing. The Lin Con is one of his favorite gimmicks that is reaching new fervor even as we struggle to find out real things like where the second $350 billion bailout is going.

From the London Telegraph:

"After he is sworn in and delivers his inaugural speech. . . he will then repair for a formal lunch modeled on foods enjoyed by Lincoln and eaten off replicate china picked out by his wife for his first inauguration in 1861.
The menu opens a seafood stew in puff pastry in honor of Lincoln's love of seafood, while the main course of duck breast with sour-cherry chutney and herb-roasted pheasant is a nod to the game that Lincoln enjoyed growing up in Indiana.

"The 200 guests seated in the statuary hall in the Capitol building, including supreme court justices, members of the cabinet and congressional leaders, will end with a dessert of apple cinnamon sponge, recalling Lincoln's fondness for apples.

"On Saturday, Obama will reprise part of the train journey taken by Lincoln before his swearing-in, traveling from Philadelphia, the first capital after independence, to Washington and stopping to meet ordinary people on the way."

From ABC News:

"President-elect Obama be sworn in using the Bible that was used to swear in President Abraham Lincoln, he will dine like Lincoln as well.

"The first course will even be served on replicas of the china picked out by then-first lady Mary Todd Lincoln at the beginning of her husband's term in office. . .

"Mr. Obama has often invoked Mr. Lincoln on the campaign trail, from his candidacy announcement in Springfield, Ill., where Lincoln once toiled as a state legislator, to the 16th president's 'team of rivals' in his Cabinet, which Mr. Obama has replicated by putting three former Democratic presidential primary opponents in his, to his pick of Bible for the swearing-in."

Perhaps the most misleading aspect of the endless Lincoln analogies is the claim that Lincoln was a uniter, just what we need now. This ignores a few things like the Civil War and, further, that there is absolutely no reason to seek a middle ground between common sense and the decent on the one hand and the most corrupt, incompetent and nasty administration in American history. That Obama should consciously pursue this such a goal is not only misguided, it is deliberately deceptive.

If Obama really wants to associate himself with Lincoln, there is a far better place to start than apple cinnamon sponges, moldy old Bibles and sucking up to conservative columnists: don't tell lies.

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PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM

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Your editor has been a musician for many decades. He started the first band his Quaker school ever had and played drums with bands up until 1980 when he switched to stride piano. He had his own band until the mid-1990s and has played with the New Sunshine Jazz Band, Hill City Jazz Band, Not So Modern Jazz Band and the Phoenix Jazz Band.

NOTES ON THE MUSIC

Here are a few tracks:

SAM SMITH'S DECOLAND BAND

'SHINE' 

JELLY ROLL

PHOENIX JAZZ BAND

APEX BLUES   Sam playing with the Phoenix Jazz Band at the Central Ohio Jazz festival in 1990. Joining the band is George James on sax. James, then 84, had been a member of the Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller orchestras and hadappeared on some 60 records. More notes on James

WISER MAN  Sam piano & vocal

OH MAMA  Sam piano & vocal