Thursday, November 13, 2008

"All the world's a stage..."

My Dear Barack,

I stumbled across a quote that ought to be the beacon that guides your administration:

“The most essential skill in political theater and the consumer culture is artifice"

There are two operative phrases in that quote. The first is “political theater” and the second is “consumer culture”.

Politics is no longer a struggle over issues; it is third-rate theater, a stage upon which the only thing that matters is the quality of the performance.

Your predecessors d didn’t fail because of his policies and wars, disastrous as they were. He fell because he was inarticulate and because he lost his ability to project an image other than that of a confused child. His image-building skills peaked when he did his hemorrhoidal strut across the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln.

You sit at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to articulation and image building. I’ll bet you could make the following statement and get away with it:

You know, folks, the market is, indeed, self regulating. The only thing free market ideologues got wrong was the mechanism that keeps it balanced. It’s not the ‘invisible hand’;it’s the Flying Spaghetti Monster®, who uses his Noodly Appendages to buy here or sell there. And sometimes, for the sheer fun of it, he roils the markets and creates an economic meltdown just to keep himself amused. So rest easy, America, there’s no need for regulation or panic. It’s simply a matter of time before the FSM tires of his game and restores balance and order to the market.

Repeat that often enough in a voice dripping confidence, and before you know it, the nation will be offering up prayers to the FSM.

The point is that when politics is reduced to theater, active citizens become passive spectators, content to sit silently and watch the show. If they don’t like it, the very worst they will do is leave at intermission. The days of throwing rotten tomatoes at poor actors are over. Your predecessor proved that.

In a political theater, all that matter is cosmetic changes. It was a masterstroke on your part to announce that you were going to reverse the presidential order limiting stem cell research. Right away the spectators believe they are witnessing the dawning of a new age. So enthralled are they that they never notice that meaningful systemic change is off the table.

The reason the public is so docile is summed up in the second operative phrase in the above quote: “consumer culture”. All a consumer cares about is being stimulated by a product or a brand or the image a logo projects. People are no longer judged by what they believe, but by what they wear. Now, when America rebels, she head to the mall to be pierced and tattooed. The discontented no longer issue manifestos; they make fashion statements.

I have high hopes for your administration. You are a suburb actor with consummate marketing skills. You will do well by doing nothing.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones


Anonymous said...

Frank Zappa said, politics is merely "the entertainment branch of industry."

Case Wagenvoord said...

The Beltway is the east coast branch of the Magic Kingdom
where dreams come true if they're economically acceptable dreams.