May 31, 2009: Whew. President Obama's first 100 days are behind us. Give-him-a-break time is over. Snark on. For the last three months, going to the newsstand has been like being waylaid by someone's doting mother armed with a load of photo albums. “This is Barack giving a speech,” gushes Mom. “Here he is giving another. And in these-- I'm not sure where the photos were taken 'cause they're only of his face-- doesn't he look handsome and inspiring? Wait! Don't go. You haven't seen Barack's trip to Palookaville (they're going to change the name to Wellville after health care reform) or the shots of him playing with his dog.”
With a strangled cry you bolt, without buying your copy of Cooking With Trans Fat. Thinking maybe it's time to subscribe. Even if the mailman does mangle the cover when peeking at the hot shots.
Only Hannah Montana rivals Obama in forced face time. And not only at newsstands. Take Wal-Mart. Obama and Montana rule Sam's Land like a prom king and queen. Montana has the aisles locked up, her face gracing everything from throw-pillows to thermoses, whereas Obama has been holding court at the checkout counters. The gauntlets of mag and tab racks have been wall to wall smiling O-visage, photographed from below so as to convey authority. His choppers outshining even those of Angie/Brad/Jen. Counting Obama's teeth helps pass line time, as does tallying the astonishing variety of Beef Jerky. (It's true what folks say on the Food Channel; the American palate has become way more sophisticated.)
Wal-Mart checkout rags tend to focus on Obama's personal life. Not Cosmo bedroom stuff (though tabs are starting to go there) just stories like "How Barack and Michelle Find Time For Each Other." Finding time for each other is a big problem for couples not forced to wait (and wait) to pay for Sam's choice knockoffs of name brand groceries. Though even Sam can't can Spam. Hormel is in hog heaven; Spam sales are surging. Just another green shoot in the Obama-guided economy. After 100 Days of Stimulus, pork is popping up all over. Of course, shoots must continue to be fertilized with massive national debt (aka Our Children's Future) and mulched with shredded Constitution. Nobody is saying “Mission Accomplished”.
Despite rumors to the contrary President Obama didn't crib the phrase “100 Days of Stimulus” from a Cosmo article on Ways to Drive Your Guy Crazy. Nor did the Marquis de Sade ghost write it. Obama came up with it all on his lonesome. Not that he ever is. He has the media to keep him warm. Once upon a time so did President Bush II. Dubya basked in the sunshine of their love for roughly three years post 9/11. During that crucial period he too got the god treatment. His face ruled magazine covers (photographed from below so as to convey authority) and his policies re Iraq received the same uncritical treatment as Obama's policies re the economy. The lack of critical examination often segued into sycophantic enhancement, just as it does with Obama.
Some people think that this time the media is right. Or that they were right about Bush, but wrong now. Others believe the media is enamored of, and increasingly dependent on, morbidly obese government. And that an imperial presidency is just part of the package. Cock-a-doodle-do, any prez will do. But while the media may accept, even adore, an imperial prez, they're not total dogsbody. When poll numbers slip so does their reverence. As Bush fell and a hipper new god (O!) appeared in the sky, the media spoke-- nay shouted-- truth to morbidly obese power. All the photos of Dubya shot from below so as to convey authority disappeared in favor of ones done in the realistic style of Diane Arbus.
Incidentally, Bush II may have left the building but he hasn't left the checkout counter. The tabs are full of sordid post POTUS tales. Dubya is boozing again! And Laura is steamed about his late night phone calls to Condi and has laid down an ultimatum-- Condi Or Me! Coming soon: Bush becomes a carnival geek! Biting the heads off live chickens in exchange for a cot and a daily bottle of rotgut.
Impossible to imagine Obama's popularity spiraling so far downward, putting him at the fecal end of the media stick. Still, it's good to know he's not tight with Hillary. Wal-Mart checkout lines would be even more hellish if shoppers were forced to see Bill's red angry face under the headline-- Barry Or Me! Far worse would be the impact of a morbidly obese VAT tax when it came time (finally) to pay. Earth to Obama administration: being forced to pay lots more for everything, from a carton of eggs to a Hannah Montana lunch box, could make voters storm the gates of heaven.
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
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