No explanations. Obama
LOS ANGELES – The Obama festival in the American media was boosted in recent weeks by a clip in YouTube featuring Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am and the presidential candidate’s speech, “Yes We Can.”
“Yes we can” and “change we can believe in” are Obama’s effective election slogans, which have captivated the American nation. But what exactly “we can” and what kind of “change” we wish to lead – that has never been properly explained. Not in the video clip, not in debates, and not in campaign appearances before the masses who pack stadiums and respond with screams that are usually reserved for rock stars.
Obama is indeed the closest thing to a real star, the kind produced by Hollywood. He looks great, uses short and catchy sentences, sweeps the crowd with his humor, hugs babies warmly, and speaks to youngsters straight from the heart. There is just one thing missing there: Substance.
The last time we saw so many explosions, money, and commotion without an actual message was here in Hollywood, in summer blockbusters. It is no wonder then that dozens of senior Tinseltown figures flock to the candidate who, just like them, sells illusions. The list, which grows longer every day, features names such as Jennifer Aniston, Susan Sarandon, Oprah Winfrey, Halle Barry, Steven Spielberg, David Gefen, Tyra Banks, and many more.
For Hillary Clinton, this campaign is one big bad movie. Her supporters are constantly portrayed as the “people of yesterday,” representatives of the Stone Age, with Clinton being a true elderly, a sort of Hillary Flintstone. Obama himself often describes her in his appearances as a candidate on behalf of old-school partisan politics.
Yet nobody has so far bothered to ask the senator what exactly his alternative is. Is it really possible to pass liberal laws and advanced reforms like the ones America is desperate for without clenching one’s teeth and fighting using the existing political tools?
If we stick to Hollywood metaphors, then Hillary belongs to an era where screenplays were written carefully, with a deep and incisive message, and were meant to capture the crowd slowly. Today, her speeches fail to get through the TV screens. Obama, on the other hand, is one big blockbuster; stadiums jam packed with youth, bombastic words, and effects of the type that grabs headlines, just like the 10th Batman sequel.
In such films/speeches, the production itself – rather than the message or product – is the achievement. Just like in Hollywood it only matters “how much you made in the first weekend,” in Obama’s campaign there is no room for bad news or reality that is more complex than “unity” and “hope.”
Several commentators explained, with utter seriousness, that it is enough to see the brilliant way in which Obama manages his campaign in order to prove that he will make an excellent White House manager. Is that indeed the case? George W. Bush ran two exemplary election campaigns, with the assistance of one of the greatest campaign geniuses of all times, Karl Rove. He managed to overcome John Kerry thanks to his ability to convey simple and catchy messages, and won because his voters saw him as a “president I would love to have a beer with.” Since then, the beer and his “management abilities” have evaporated.
Of course, behind Obama’s wondrous oratory we may find a level-headed, responsible, action-oriented leader that can both “unite everyone” and deliver the goods, without being dragged into Washington’s murky mud-wrestling matches. However, the end could certainly be reminiscent of a $200 million Hollywood movie: After the curtain falls, everyone will be asking what the hell the plot was.