Tuning Out Obama
Posted on Feb 1, 2014
By Mike Whitney, CounterPunch
This piece first appeared at CounterPunch.
If you didn’t catch Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, you’re not alone. According to Nielsen ratings, Obama’s hour-long presentation garnered less than 34 million viewers, an all-time low for the president and the “second-lowest rated since Nielsen began recording viewership in 1993.”
Apparently, Americans would rather spend their time watching Simpsons reruns or fiddling with their iPhones than listening to the pompous pronouncements of the Dissembler in Chief. And good for them. It goes to show that no one really believes that a junior senator with a pedigree in community organizing is setting policy for the world’s only superpower. The idea is ridiculous. Obama is merely the mask that conceals the ruthless machinery of Empire. The real power lies beyond the veil, in the Deep State apparatus which decides everything from drone strikes to Gitmo, from NSA dragnets to habeas corpus, from deficit-slashing austerity to the “pivot to Asia”. Obama has no say-so in any of these decisions. He’s merely a public relations invention whose job is to look sincerely into the teleprompter while announcing the latest round of budget cuts or more of the deeply-regressive social policies his puppetmasters crave. That’s his job and everyone knows it.
Only now– judging by the SOTU ratings— he’s even failing at that task.
Why?Because no one’s listening anymore. They’ve tuned him out, which means he’s lost his ability to shape public opinion. President Snake-oil has become completely irrelevant, a non-factor in advancing elite policy. His presidency is effectively over. Good riddance.
That said, there have been some fine summaries of the SOTU speech that are worth reviewing. The best of these were posted on the World Socialist Web Site whose analysis (as usual) was laser sharp. Here’s a blurb from a piece by Bill van Auken:
Bravo, Van Auken! “An ossified ritual…. filled with fraudulent claims and promises that no one… believes in the slightest.”
That sums it up perfectly, doesn’t it?
Joseph Kishore, who also writes for the World Socialist Web Site, posted an equally impressive piece titled “Obama’s State of the Union address: An empty and reactionary charade”. Here’s a clip:
Both articles are worth reading in full.
Obama’s abysmal State of the Union ratings suggest that the country has turned against him. People don’t trust the president anymore and they certainly don’t want to listen to his lying bullshit for an hour or so. It’s easier just to change the channel … which millions of them did.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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