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"The One" : Why right-wing "celebrity attack ads" won't work on Barack Obama

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 8/29/08

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“In a world of 1s and 0s...are you a zero, or The One?”    The Matrix (1999) 

 The recent line of right-wing attacks on Barack Obama have been to emphasize his popularity and turn it against him by painting him as nothing more than a celebrity  --  “an empty suit” was the phrase I heard one pundit use. Right-wing trolls and bloggers have commonly taken to referring to Senator Obama online as “The One.” This attempt at sarcasm is a reference to the character ‘Neo’ from the movie, The Matrix. As they do this, I have to wonder if they realize who this makes them in their self-created Matrix scenario: Agents? Sentinels? If, in a world of ones and zeros, Barack Obama is “The One,” what is John McCain?  

  The first “celebrity” attack ad sought to diminish Obama’s stature by juxtaposing him with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. This line of character attack is not particularly new or original: Early on in the primaries we saw jokes about where the candidates were all born: “and Barack Obama was born in a manger.” Let’s not forget Hillary Clinton’s snide remark at one of the Democratic debates wondering aloud if Senator Obama needed a pillow so that he might be made more comfortable; and then there was her remark about the skies opening and everyone singing “Kumbaya.” So the Republicans haven’t been able to come up with anything other than what has been tried ---unsuccessfully--- by the Clinton campaign. This fact raises a legitimate question as to whether they have the ingenuity to govern the American people away from the various potential catastrophes that encroach upon us from every direction. 

   For the most part, Senator Obama has patiently endured this line of harassing political attack and tried valiantly, but with questionable success, to persuade the main stream media to focus on the badly-needed debate over policy instead of personalities and gaffes and the utterly trivial. I say with questionable success as it seems to me there is a certain futility in trying to reform a culture that has long been addicted to various combinations of superficiality, gossip and xenophobia. Still, this continuous call for a policy debate is a significant point that those of us who support Senator Obama need to emphasize at every opportunity. With the country in the shape that its in : our military capabilities compromised, the VA a broken institution, The United States’ loss of stature in the world, the declining value of the dollar and our ever-growing debt …what Senator Biden called an ABYSMAL failure ---the right-wing wants to focus on the celebrity status of Barack Obama? They think that this is the important issue of this election? Isn’t this completely out of touch with reality? At what point should the Republicans be required to answer for their incompetence? What about New Orleans? What about lies to take this nation into war? What about answering for the deficit or the failure to prevent 9/11; even though they were told that Bin Laden was determined to attack us? Eight years provides us hundreds of similar questions. When will we get some answers?

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  Senator Obama’s supporters should gladly EMBRACE the idea that Obama IS “the One,” ---and we need to ask loudly what is it that makes this so …What is it that has made him come from out of nowhere and beaten an adversary as formidable as the Clinton Political Machine? We hear and see much about the “Commander in Chief “argument and we are inundated with questions and statements doubting Sen. Obama’s abilities and qualifications in this regard. When we encounter this, we have to remember who is saying it : that it is coming from the very people who thought of George Bush and Donald Rumsfield as qualified military leaders, and “Brownie” as qualified to be the head of FEMA. These are also the same people who thought Dick Cheney’s “experience” would be good for America; yet the vast majority of Americans feel that this hasn’t been the case. Isn’t this enough to mitigate the seriousness with which such claims, questions and ridicule should be taken by the American people? Also, it seems to me that such over-concern about the qualification of ‘Commander in Chief’ bodes a future that fosters more warfare, more of the same.

   By now, many of us have heard war drums beating toward Iran and Syria. This sort of behavior is simply NOT in America’s interest at this time. America can’t afford to continue to write checks with its mouth that its ass can’t cash. It certainly doesn’t instill confidence among the other nations of the world. We need a competent Commander in Chief, but what we need even more is someone who can be a statesman and a diplomat. In order to even begin to solve our economic problems, our environmental problems, our addiction to foreign oil and on and on and on, we have to engage with the world, and we need a leader who inspires not only the American people, but the other peoples of the world. We need a leader who believes in and has a talent for dialogue. 

  One thing that we saw with Senator Obama’s speech in Germany is that, though there are those here in the United States who thought his performance something to belittle as a mere show of celebrity, in reality, his speech demonstrates that Sen. Obama is capable of going straight to the people of the world and making his case.  John McCain simply does not possess this rare capacity …no way, no how.  The very reason that Sen. Obama is a celebrity is because he inspires people and makes them aware of their own potential and invites them to direct participation in the affairs that concern them. He is eloquent and charismatic and has chosen to put these talents to empowering others. He is a master of organization and thus can direct the energy that comes from the inspiration to serve a focused purpose. The success of his “improbable” campaign proves this.  How can anyone look upon its success and dismiss Sen. Obama as being nothing more ‘an empty suit’ and devoid of purpose? It makes for some good laughs I suppose, but at the end of it all, the right-wing attack machine is writing a joke where its own culture of cynicism will be the punch line …not Barack Obama, and not the American people.

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Musician, Songwriter, Graphic Artist, Writer, Reviewer, Editor, Blogger, Poet and Activist. Currently performing with Alamantra: Associate Editor and Contributor to Ashe (more...)

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