Talk about your marketing ploy, which I, along with others, have been doing for a while now (most recently, “The Campaign’s Over, Obama: It’s Time To Lead“). But the incomparable Chris Hedges has done a remarkable job at highlighting just exactly how true that is (and it is true – his campaign won the top marketing award – his CAMPAIGN. The link is below.). Many thanks to SusanUnPC for tipping me off to this story (and, if you are unfamiliar with Chris Hedges, click on his name above and take a look at his bio – it will knock your socks off):

Buying Brand Obama

Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.

What, for all our faith and hope, has the Obama brand given us? His administration has spent, lent or guaranteed $12.8 trillion in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street and insolvent banks in a doomed effort to reinflate the bubble economy, a tactic that at best forestalls catastrophe and will leave us broke in a time of profound crisis. Brand Obama has allocated nearly $1 trillion in defense-related spending and the continuation of our doomed imperial projects in Iraq, where military planners now estimate that 70,000 troops will remain for the next 15 to 20 years. Brand Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, including the use of drones sent on cross-border bombing runs into Pakistan that have doubled the number of civilians killed over the past three months. Brand Obama has refused to ease restrictions so workers can organize and will not consider single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. And Brand Obama will not prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, including the use of torture, and has refused to dismantle Bush’s secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus.

That is EXACTLY what MANY of us have been saying ad nauseum for MONTHS now – Obama is another Bush, further evidenced by his saying one thing and doing the exact OPPOSITE:

Brand Obama offers us an image that appears radically individualistic and new. It inoculates us from seeing that the old engines of corporate power and the vast military-industrial complex continue to plunder the country. Corporations, which control our politics, no longer produce products that are essentially different, but brands that are different. Brand Obama does not threaten the core of the corporate state any more than did Brand George W. Bush. The Bush brand collapsed. We became immune to its studied folksiness. We saw through its artifice. This is a common deflation in the world of advertising. So we have been given a new Obama brand with an exciting and faintly erotic appeal. Benetton and Calvin Klein were the precursors to the Obama brand, using ads to associate themselves with risqué art and progressive politics. It gave their products an edge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake a brand with an experience.

“The abandonment of the radical economic foundations of the women’s and civil-rights movements by the conflation of causes that came to be called political correctness successfully trained a generation of activists in the politics of image, not action,” Naomi Klein wrote in “No Logo.”

Well, ain’t that the damn truth. Sad, but the truth, nonetheless. And it led to this:

Obama, who has become a global celebrity, was molded easily into a brand. He had almost no experience, other than two years in the Senate, lacked any moral core and could be painted as all things to all people. His brief Senate voting record was a miserable surrender to corporate interests. He was happy to promote nuclear power as “green” energy. He voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reauthorized the Patriot Act. He would not back a bill designed to cap predatory credit card interest rates. He opposed a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872. He refused to support the single-payer health care bill HR676, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers. He supported the death penalty. And he backed a class-action “reform” bill that was part of a large lobbying effort by financial firms. The law, known as the Class Action Fairness Act, would effectively shut down state courts as a venue to hear most class-action lawsuits and deny redress in many of the courts where these cases have a chance of defying powerful corporate challenges.

While Gaza was being bombarded and hit with airstrikes in the weeks before Obama took office, “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel,” according to Seymour Hersh. Even his one vaunted anti-war speech as a state senator, perhaps his single real act of defiance, was swiftly reversed. He told the Chicago Tribune on July 27, 2004, that “there’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who’s in a position to execute.” And unlike anti-war stalwarts like Kucinich, who gave hundreds of speeches against the war, Obama then dutifully stood silent until the Iraq war became unpopular.

Oh, yes – a man of SUCH conviction. Hahahaha. As long as it scores him some points, he’s ALL over it.

But get this – if there was any doubt whatsoever in any way, shape, or form, that Obama is the sole result of marketing, check this out:

Obama’s campaign won the vote of hundreds of marketers, agency heads and marketing-services vendors gathered at the Association of National Advertisers’ annual conference in October. The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008 and edged out runners-up Apple and Take it from the professionals. Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they can make you feel.

Yep, pretty much – so it doesn’t matter HOW empty the promises, or vague the rhetoric, doggone it, he just makes us feel all tingly inside (blech, yuck, ick).

Hedges has an explanation for how we got to this place:

Celebrity culture has leeched into every aspect of our culture, including politics, to bequeath to us what Benjamin DeMott called “junk politics.” Junk politics does not demand justice or the reparation of rights. Junk politics personalizes and moralizes issues rather than clarifying them. “It’s impatient with articulated conflict, enthusiastic about America’s optimism and moral character, and heavily dependent on feel-your-pain language and gesture,” DeMott noted. The result of junk politics is that nothing changes – “meaning zero interruption in the processes and practices that strengthen existing, interlocking systems of socioeconomic advantage.” It redefines traditional values, tilting “courage toward braggadocio, sympathy toward mawkishness, humility toward self-disrespect, identification with ordinary citizens toward distrust of brains.” Junk politics “miniaturizes large, complex problems at home while maximizing threats from abroad. It’s also given to abrupt unexplained reversals of its own public stances, often spectacularly bloating problems previously miniaturized.” And finally, it “seeks at every turn to obliterate voters’ consciousness of socioeconomic and other differences in their midst.”

An image-based culture, one dominated by junk politics, communicates through narratives, pictures and carefully orchestrated spectacle and manufactured pseudo-drama. Scandalous affairs, hurricanes, earthquakes, untimely deaths, lethal new viruses, train wrecks—these events play well on computer screens and television. International diplomacy, labor union negotiations and convoluted bailout packages do not yield exciting personal narratives or stimulating images. A governor who patronizes call girls becomes a huge news story. A politician who proposes serious regulatory reform, universal health care or advocates curbing wasteful spending is boring. Kings, queens and emperors once used their court conspiracies to divert their subjects. Today cinematic, political and journalistic celebrities distract us with their personal foibles and scandals. They create our public mythology. Acting, politics and sports have become, as they were during the reign of Nero, interchangeable.

Yet another reference to Nero – and appropriately so.

But here is yet another sad truth:

In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we do not seek reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion. We ask to be indulged and comforted by clichés, stereotypes and inspirational messages that tell us we can be whoever we seek to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities, and that our future will always be glorious and prosperous, either because of our own attributes, or our national character, or because we are blessed by God. Reality is not accepted as an impediment to our desires. Reality does not make us feel good.

In his book “Public Opinion,” Walter Lippmann distinguished between “the world outside and the pictures in our heads.” He defined a “stereotype” as an oversimplified pattern that helps us find meaning in the world. Lippmann cited examples of the crude “stereotypes we carry about in our heads” of whole groups of people such as “Germans,” “South Europeans,” “Negroes,” “Harvard men,” “agitators” and others. These stereotypes, Lippmann noted, give a reassuring and false consistency to the chaos of existence. They offer easily grasped explanations of reality and are closer to propaganda because they simplify rather than complicate.

Pseudo-events—dramatic productions orchestrated by publicists, political machines, television, Hollywood or advertisers—however, are very different. They have, as Daniel Boorstin wrote in “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America,” the capacity to appear real even though we know they are staged. They are capable, because they can evoke a powerful emotional response, of overwhelming reality and replacing reality with a fictional narrative that often becomes accepted truth. The unmasking of a stereotype damages and often destroys its credibility. But pseudo-events, whether they show the president in an auto plant or a soup kitchen or addressing troops in Iraq, are immune to this deflation. The exposure of the elaborate mechanisms behind the pseudo-event only adds to its fascination and its power. This is the basis of the convoluted television reporting on how effectively political campaigns and politicians have been stage-managed. Reporters, especially those on television, no longer ask if the message is true but if the pseudo-event worked or did not work as political theater. Pseudo-events are judged on how effectively we have been manipulated by illusion. Those events that appear real are relished and lauded. Those that fail to create a believable illusion are deemed failures. Truth is irrelevant. Those who succeed in politics, as in most of the culture, are those who create the brands and pseudo-events that offer the most convincing fantasies. And this is the art Obama has mastered.

Ah, yes – convincing people to ignore reality and just listen to the sound of his voice. Great – just what we want in our elected officials – to create a little fantasy world in which we can live and not have to deal with all that icky reality stuff:

A public that can no longer distinguish between truth and fiction is left to interpret reality through illusion. Random facts or obscure bits of data and trivia are used to bolster illusion and give it credibility or are discarded if they interfere with the message. The worse reality becomes—the more, for example, foreclosures and unemployment skyrocket—the more people seek refuge and comfort in illusions. When opinions cannot be distinguished from facts, when there is no universal standard to determine truth in law, in science, in scholarship, or in reporting the events of the day, when the most valued skill is the ability to entertain, the world becomes a place where lies become true, where people can believe what they want to believe. This is the real danger of pseudo-events and why pseudo-events are far more pernicious than stereotypes. They do not explain reality, as stereotypes attempt to, but replace reality. Pseudo-events redefine reality by the parameters set by their creators. These creators, who make massive profits peddling these illusions, have a vested interest in maintaining the power structures they control.

The old production-oriented culture demanded what the historian Warren Susman termed character. The new consumption-oriented culture demands what he called personality. The shift in values is a shift from a fixed morality to the artifice of presentation. The old cultural values of thrift and moderation honored hard work, integrity and courage. The consumption-oriented culture honors charm, fascination and likability. “The social role demanded of all in the new culture of personality was that of a performer,” Susman wrote. “Every American was to become a performing self.”

Hard work?? Thrift? Moderation? Oh, my – that is SOOO Twentieth Century! It’s a brand new day, folks, and along with that is a new brand, OBAMA, and his “listen to what I say, and ignore everything I do”:

The junk politics practiced by Obama is a consumer fraud. It is about performance. It is about lies. It is about keeping us in a perpetual state of childishness. But the longer we live in illusion, the worse reality will be when it finally shatters our fantasies. Those who do not understand what is happening around them and who are overwhelmed by a brutal reality they did not expect or foresee search desperately for saviors. They beg demagogues to come to their rescue. This is the ultimate danger of the Obama Brand. It effectively masks the wanton internal destruction and theft being carried out by our corporate state. These corporations, once they have stolen trillions in taxpayer wealth, will leave tens of millions of Americans bereft, bewildered and yearning for even more potent and deadly illusions, ones that could swiftly snuff out what is left of our diminished open society.

Chris Hedges’ new book, “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle,” will be out in July and can be preordered on Amazon (and please remember that No Quarter benefits if you click the Amazon button at the No Quarter site) or at your local bookstore

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Both Obama the Brand and the man are dangerous with his marketing to mask his real actions. Too many people did not wake up before granting Bush a second term (though even THAT is debatable given the state of our elections, particularly electronic voting machines – shameless plug for “Hacking Democracy” Live Chat and voter fraud in general). We can only hope, and work (in the good ol’ Twentieth Century way), to help more people move back into the reality-based community. To move from the illusion of Obama the Brand to the reality of Obama the Politician. The sooner, the better. And “sooner” can’t come fast enough for me. How about you?

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  • margaret

    Thank you for this article. Wow, I love how it articulates illusion replacing reality. This is why trying to reason with an Obot is like banging your head against a brick wall, they’re not interested in logic, in facts, in reality. Thank God for No Quarter!!

  • TeakwoodKite

    “..the artifice of presentation.”

    Hook line and sinker.

    Reverend Amy, this at the same time a straight forward proposition and a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

    The intentional chaos that is being used to divide the classes into “us and them”, is now a constant hum like a bad light bulb about to blow.

    There is a lot to consider in this post. Thanks. Manipulated event horizons and critical mass deferred.

  • The DNC gambled with our country in peddling Obama as the face of America. Then, we are to believe that Mr. Socialism is just like us.

    When the DNC defrauded America out of the best person for the job (Clinton) they became just as corrupt as Bernie Madoff. What was the difference between the DNC and Madoff? They were both selling an illicit dream.

  • Doc99

    Pelosi Briefed on Use of Interrogation Tactics in Sept 2002.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in September 2002, according to a report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence’s office and obtained by ABC News.

    The report, submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and other Capitol Hill officials Wednesday, appears to contradict Pelosi’s statement last month that she was never told about the use of waterboarding or other special interrogation tactics. Instead, she has said, she was told only that the Bush administration had legal opinions that would have supported the use of such techniques.

    The report details a Sept. 4, 2002 meeting between intelligence officials and Pelosi, then-House intelligence committee chairman Porter Goss, and two aides. At the time, Pelosi was the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee.


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  • Benjamin

    Wow, I think I’m gonna buy this book when it comes out. Looking at the marketing of Obama, I suppose the flip side of it was the attempt to market Hillary as “Brand X.” You know, she was supposedly yesterday’s news dragging Bill around with her.

    Of course, people have been trying to pigeonhole Hillary Clinton for years (like they do most famous women). The republicans almost succeeded by branding her as “cold, calculating, who will say or do anything to win,” but I think she broke out of that in her campaign as well. Her ability to actually connect with and inspire voters, in the face of Obama’s massive media marketing campaign, should give us all some hope for the future.

  • They can improve the product (Obama) all they want. We ain’t buying.

  • i believe he hates this country,and is trying to destroy it,

  • susan h

    The article linked below is entitled: The President Who Hates His Country, by Joan Swirsky dated May 3, 2009. Some of you may have seen it already. I think it has a lot of truth to it.

  • C.S.

    The term “Brand Obama” conjured up a picture of “hog tied” and a big hot branding iron doing its identification job… if we only knew whose brand he is wearing.

  • I’m a Linda too

    EXCELLENT! Thank you for posting this.

  • Texas Playwright

    Thanks, Rev. Amy! Learning about my country is one of my hobbies. Living in it is one of my blessings. Standing up for it is one of my responsibilities.

    I am one of the responsible 18 million who saw the reality of Hillary’s America and the illusion of bho the fraud’s America. Bet by now another 18 million responsible Americans would join us in the 2012 Dem primaries and put Hillary on the ticket

  • DaddysDarlin

    It has become exhausting trying to get people to listen about what is really going on in our country. The MSM doesnt want to hear it, they are the builders of the Obama myth. They don’t want we Americans to know what is really going on, we couldn’t handle it, leave that important stuff to the politicians right?
    I am so damn sick and tired of a complacent congress, a complacent MSM and a complacent president who thinks we don’t know what he’s up to.
    We don’t want our Constitution rewritten to be used and abused by Obama, Bush or anyone else. Leave our Constitution and our civil rights alone!
    While the media is taking photo ops, the country is crumbling around us.
    While Obama is entertaining and wooing the senate and congress to get what he wants, our people are wondering where their next meal is coming from.
    Obama was made to say and do anything to get what he wants, now those that voted for him because of some delusion that he would save them from financial tragedy, are beginning to see what we have seen all along.
    A Fraud. A Muslim who continues to apologize to the world about what America has done to them. A wimp! A president who bows to kings. A disgrace!
    Obama does not speak for me or for more than half of the American population, but the world does not know that.
    They think we worship Obama like they do, they couldn’t be more wrong, but the MSM wont tell them that. The MSM wont tell them that Obama has hidden everything about his past in order to remain the king of the Americas. The MSM doesnt care if Obama is ineligible to even be our president.
    The guidelines of our Constitution are clear, but who reads the Constitution anymore? Certainly nobody in the MSM or on Capitol Hill.
    When all hell finally breaks loose, and it will, I will not feel sorry for those who refused to listen.
    We did all we could and still continue to dig and do more because the truth will win out over this fraud, I truly believe the truth will win.

  • Patience

    Great article Rev. Amy — and so profound.

    The Citizen Celebrity is the zeitgeist these days. We witness it in the popularity of “reality” TV programming and other media. Carefully crafted and controlled “narrative” is a major driving factor. Simply put, it boils down to an unknown eventually reaching the heights of stardom. Which makes us all feel celebrity (so coveted these days) is within our grasp. It’s a very potent ploy.

    So it’s no wonder that this same marketing approach has taken over politics and that we’re stuck with a POTUS of dubious character, principles and qualifications who ostensibly stands for one thing but in practice stands for another. Perception has become reality. Most of the news media have forsaken their duty and are working very hard to burnish the chosen Obama narrative: indecision, laziness and lack of leadership have morphed into nuance, coolness and a new way of doing business.

    I’m sick of it — I don’t like manipulators trying to diddle me. What a dumbed-down culture we’re witnessing.

  • aeguy

    Hedges is brilliant. I enjoyed his book “I don’t believe in atheists”.

    He is too far left for my taste (he’s a self-described socialist), but his views always make me reconsider my positions.

  • Great article, Amy. Thanks.

    About the remark of Michelle during the campaign. “No law can keep my husband out of the White House”.

    What about a constitution that states that a president of the US needs to be a natural born citizen and a person that probably is most certainly NOT a natural born citizen but was very effectively sold as a brand to very stupid and ignorant Americans who neither understand what it means to be natural born or even care. And now we who do understand and care are stuck with him and are trying to figure out how to get rid of him before he totally destroys our country.

    • Well, SURELY you don’t expect Obama to have to follow the law, do you?? Good grief! 🙂

      I seem to recall that he had one of his people write up a brief abt how the natural born citizen law was a racist requirement. Does anyone else remember that?

      • candymarl

        RRRA I don’t remember that but it makes no sense. It was that part of the Constitution that conferred citizenship to the freed slaves. What’s racist about that? Nothing.

        But Obama is not a descendant of slaves so I guess he wouldn’t care about that.

      • jbjd

        Ms. Herlihy had some ties through her law firm, to BO, as I recall. The speculation is that, this and another article rejecting the Constitutional requirement that the POTUS is a NBC, were a type of dry run before BO’s attempts to steal the election.

        • FLDemFem

          I wonder if he realizes that negating that requirement would make Arnold Schwarzenegger eligible for POTUS. How’s that for a nightmare? Of course, Ahnold has been lobbying for that change since he got into the governor’s office. Yeah, just what we want in the US, the son of a Nazi in the White House. That would be as bad as what we have now, don’t you think?

          • NomNomNom

            it would be the Hapsburgs all over again

        • THAT’S the one! Thank you so much!

    • Ben


      Here is a great article on that subject, very clear and concise. It is written by the attorney in the Ketchner, et al VS Obama, et al case now in the courts.

  • Elsie

    WSJ ran an article about this black very stylish and polished black woman who is in charge of selling the Obama brand.. She is the social secretary of the white house.

    Now am I impressed… how about the embarrassing gifts the Obamas offered Gordon Brown and the gifts offered to the HRH Queen of England.. Very very embarrassing.. If that is her track record… she does not have a darn clue about protocol and and of course because she is selling a brand, there is no substance to the brand …And how about telling Obama not to bow too low to any foreign dignitary or leader.. How to sit, what to wear, etc.. . Just as I remember when that woman Karen Hughes from texas was appointed by Bush to “sell” the United States to the Muslim World.. She failed miserably and what a waste of taxpayer dollars hiring these kind of women who are incompetent and did not produce anything worthy to the taxpayers of America.

  • Tom Cat “wodie j” Jefferson Esq

    the young are fickle and get bored easily. And they love a reason to be rebellious. Conservatives are about following the rules and acting like you have sense, the Dem’s are about anything goes.

  • Docelder

    So time will tell if this man proves to be more like “bell bottom” jeans or is he perhaps more like “new coke”. He looks like “new coke” from here and I can only hope time will prove that out. How we have fallen from choosing leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt… to settling for brands such as these, I do not fully understand. But it highlights, I think a deeper problem for our society in general that transcends this current brand and the selection of it. We are a screwed up society right now. We need to deal with that ultimately.

  • politicalidentitycrisis

    Yes, but can we return him for a full refund? That is something I’d truly like to know! I guess I can’t because I didn’t buy in, but for those who did and have remorse, they should ask for a full refund!

    • NomNomNom

      but where should they return him, Indonesia or Kenya? I didn’t buy in either but I volunteer to help with the freight!

      • carr50

        “I volunteer to help with the freight!” I’ll pitch in also.

  • Eastan

    Shoppers Beware!

    The handlers not only brand Obama they package his policies and proposals like a retailer packages a sale. One trick is to mark up a vacuum cleaner from $500 to $1,200 then offer a 30% off sale. Was $1,200, now just $800! We saw that this week. The administration pushes through a multi-trillion dollar budget and today’s headlines, all of the MSMs are: “Obama Cuts Budget by $17 Billion.” Yea! What a deal!

    • Tom Cat “wodie j” Jefferson Esq

      you are EXACTLY right about what retailers do. Lots of people fall for it though. It definitely applies to Obama and I am quite sure it was intentional. Just like the swine flu etc. They throw people’s attention off so they can ramrod their socialist crap through.

      • Docelder

        Watch the hacker stories as well. There is another one this morning about the air traffic control system being hacked. These follow hack stories concerning the electrical grid and some defense contractors of a few weeks back. It’s about that Internet czar and being able to snoop onto web traffic and web servers. These guys are quickly becoming transparent in their actions… crisis followed by crisis remedy which the need for remedy is so imminent that it can’t afford to be debated openly.

        • Yes, docelder – pretty scary, and your last sentence says it all.

          • jwrjr

            Bush did it with Iraq; Obama is doing it with … everything that his handlers can think of.

  • Peggy Sue

    Fascinating article, Amy. Lots of parallels: junk politics, junk bonds, junk food, junk brands, junk journalism, junk, junk, junk.

    Garbage in, garbage out. It’s almost exhausting to take it all in, to get your head around it.

    The only good news is that I sense a vague awakening, even on the Far Left blogs. There’s a soft discontent that’s starting, murmers that the “brand” might have been oversold, the financial crises made worse, the promises reversed being inexplicable.

    The branding makes sense since Obama was and is in the pocket of Wall Street and lobbyists and power hitters. Of course, that’s just the opposite of what he campaigned on: man of the people.

    It’s the Big Lie that was all rolled up into one inexperienced and arrogant candidate. I always wondered about that comment that Michelle made towards the end of the election cycle: there is no law that can keep my husband from the White House.

    She knew. Too bad more Americans didn’t catch on earlier.

    Good one!

  • jbjd

    Dr. Lynette Long wrote extensively about the difference between BO the brand and BO the man, several months ago.

  • Tom Cat “wodie j” Jefferson Esq

    Like most “brands” you are often buying a name and not necessarily a quality “product”. Some live up to their reputation, promise, product, name, many don’t. They are just overpriced and marketed well.

    Obama’s followers are typically shallow-concerned with looks and what’s “in”. He makes alot of promises, he’s new and different. Like fashions, he will go out of style as quickly as he came in.