The missing populism of the left: Post Three

Lady_GagaI’ve posted on this a couple of times before – arguing that the populism of the left has gone missing and wondering why. This argues the same point in a different – shall we say ‘genre’. I agree with most of the first half of it, but thought it got a little complacent about its case towards the end. At least on the left I think you need balance. I’m hoping that with the tea party rampant up there in the US, the Republicans will run into that little law of politics.


My name is Obama. But call me Icarus.

I soared on the wings of an angel. I was the biggest star the planet had ever seen, without having to go near a guitar. I was dancing on the moon, when suddenly, the moon gathered its bowels and dropped me like a turd back on earth.


And here I sit, in my redecorated Oval Office, surrounded by all these clever Ph.D people, and by my pointillist-picture-perfect family, and I’m gobsmacked and paddywhacked and privately pissed and publicly petulant.

People scorn me. Left and right. They treat me like a dog.

After all I’ve done. What a record of legislation! How did I legislate? Let me count the bills.

On my 24th day in office, I whelped a $787 billion Recovery Act that included $78.61 billion of green energy stimulus, and cut the taxes of 95% of our taxpayers.

But I didn’t rest.

I squeezed out Healthcare Reform. That took a little longer. It was an almost stillborn breech baby, but today it is incubating and will start kicking about four years from now if the Republicans don’t starve it to death before then. Wonder of wonders, in its placenta can be found the detritus of the “pre-existing condition” scam. Unfortunately the baby is missing its genitals — the public option — but some industry deal snipped that one out of its genetic code.

Still, I didn’t rest.

Soon I begat Financial Reform that included a Consumer Financial Protection Agency birthed by Elizabeth Warren and now being midwifed by her.

And then, lest you forget, as most Americans have, I saved Detroit. Plus I shook down BP for $20 billion.

Those were my five biggies. Stimulus, health, finance, Detroit, BP shakedown. There’s a lot of little stuff too numerous to mention: my ban on torture, the student loan overhaul, our foreign rep restored, two okay Supreme Court ladies, etc.

But what happened? Where have all the voters gone? I feel like Sartre locked out of De Beauvoir’s bedroom because she’s banging the husband of the wife I banged, or their daughter, all because of some combination of nausea and misplaced ressentiment because our final philosophy agregationexam jury quibbled about whether they should give first place to me or to her, and then naturally confirmed her second-sex status.

Me, young and virile Barack Obama, locked out of the American bedroom? Can you imagine? Can you imagine that happening to the smartest guy in the room?

I can. Look at my approval ratings. Under 50%, to sleep with the fishes in the Seventh Circle of Consequences Unintended and Hopes Dashed on Pointy Rocks.

WTF? What happened?

Simple, Mr President. What happened was you.

You did it, Barack Hussein Obama. You baked the crap on which you gag. You ate the banana on whose peel you’re slipping.

Here’s what you did, you Hope Pope Dope, which I will describe to you in words of wackedoo woe with my balls on fire and my hair smoking Medusa snakes. In fact, I’m going to be stooping to the atavistic non-Latinate rhetoric of Henry Miller, Rabelais and Judd Apatow cock-joke movies … so you might mind-grip with feral clarity the global geography of your idiocy and my fury about same. Here’s what you wrought, in straight-up Anglo-Saxon:

After giving your base a great fuck as a candidate, you pulled out.

You entered the White House and slammed the door on your base. You handed over your personal stash of 13 million email addresses — your direct line to your fans — to the Democratic Party. As if you couldn’t be bothered with them anymore.

Your fans didn’t vote for the Democratic Party, pal. Independents didn’t vote for the Democratic Party, sonny. They voted for you, asshole. That coalition of youths Hispanics labor-union African-American progressives: the stars in their eyes blinked Obama-Obama-Obama.

You had a fan base inside-outside your Party, like the Tea Party stands inside-outside the GOP, which you could have used again and again — against Congress, against the GOP, even against your own party. An organized community all your own.

Between you and your fans there was a much stronger bond than a mere party-political bond. A mystical, sacred bond.

But you went all secular on them and pulled out. You acted as though your base never existed. You committed the greatest act of political coitus interruptus since JFK got himself shot.

Then you pointed your wind-dry erection at a rainbow. It was actually a shitstorm, but you saw opportunity where others saw an iceberg. You happen to be a donkey, but you thought you could get it on with an elephant. It was species overreach, dumbo. You insisted on looking for a hole somewhere in the GOP — your avowed and self-declared enemies — to stick your putz in.

They blocked your cock solid. You got nowhere. That hole was closed tighter than the jars in which they store the last smallpox viruses on earth in the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Vector Research Center in Koltsovo, Siberia.

Then, instead of going back to your fans, you stuck your nose in your briefing books and acted like a monk and never looked up until you felt an uncomfortable feeling deep inside you, which turned out to be a huge GOP cock rammed up your butt powered by phalanxes of crazed Tea Party people.

Now you’re stuck between a cock and a hard place. You’re trapped in what the TV Puking Packs of Pundit Poseurs call an enthusiasm gap. That gap is a hole, the hole in which you cast your base like the dungeons in which Henry VIII cast wife after wife so he could go and ding-dong some other highborn floozy.

In your case, a whore called Washington.

Where does your enthusiasm come from? From your base, dummy. Nowhere else. You dumped your base and you dumped all enthusiasm for you. It’s that simple, idiot.

Now you’re complaining. Petulant phrases like “buck up” and “stop whining” and “inexcusable to stand on the side lines” are flowing like platelets from Caesar’s wounds.

The pity of it all is, it could have been so easy — if you were a little smarter, or maybe just a bit of a hypocrite.

Look how Karl Rove milked the Bush base, like twenty piglets sucking a fat sow dry. Came the 2004 election, what did Rove do? He and Bush raised a mighty hue and cry about gay marriage. And that old stand-by, the court-sanctioned whacking of human fetuses.

Now listen. Legal abortion will be with us forevermore, and gay marriage will spread from state to state like Sherman’s march across the South.

In short, these base-stroking moves by Herr Rove and Meister Bush were the shit of the bull. Totally. They’re like applying a phantom tongue made of chicken liver to a blind man’s wang and calling it fellatio.

But they worked. They made the base believe that Bush cared about them. It actually happens that Bush could give two shits in a rusty bucket about either gay marriage or abortion. But that’s not the point. The point was to bond with his base via hoops of steel. Ergo, in order to play patty-cake on that bond like a rhapsody singing heavenly choirs in the bosoms of his base, Bush strummed those two strings of anti-gay and anti-abortion BS harder than Kurt Cobain plucked his ax before he sucked a bullet.

That’s all it takes. Just a few pointless promises and a few empty gestures.

All you had to do, Mister President, was say this:

“Listen, folks, we got healthcare reform done. Thank you for sticking with me through the long ordeal of death panels and socialism. But we didn’t get the public option. Damn. Double damn. You’re disappointed. I’m disappointed. Never mind, next time. Don’t think for one moment I’m giving up. We didn’t have the votes for it, but if you keep voting for me, we’ll get there. The battle has just begun. When I’m re-elected, that’s my first priority. Let’s all pull together — the public option or bust!”

Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher would’ve grown bangs for you over that. And it wouldn’t have cost you a dime or a vote; maybe a scowl from Liebermann.

(Of course, in the privacy of your handy backroom, you were free to share a wink and a nod with the healthcare industry and the hospital lobby.)

About jobs, jobs, jobs … well, you should’ve done this: started building out our infrastructure with government work programs, like FDR used the government to hire people. No one would’ve complained about big government if big government were giving them a goddam job.

But you didn’t do this, El Jerko, so you could’ve done the next best thing: coaxed a rhetorical lily from your mud, as follows:

“This is my monthly jobs report. We lost XX number of jobs and gained XX number of jobs, for an overall gain of XX. That’s XX times better than the GOP did under the previous administration. It’s also XX fewer jobs than we need to add to be out of this mess in three years time. That’s my goal. Three years. They actually dug us an eight-year-deep hole, but I’m aiming to get us out in three. So stick with me and my party. We’re climbing out of the Republican hole slowly but surely, and I won’t rest until every American who wants a job has one.”

And then, after Financial Reform got passed, you should have ladled on this base-kissing sauce:

“We got that through. Thank you for your support. But we couldn’t break up the banks and stop too-big-to-fail for all time. Didn’t have the votes for it. Damn. Double damn. Never mind, next time. When I’m re-elected, I’ll be watching Goldman Sachs and Citicorp like a hawk watching a momma rat giving birth to a feisty tasty squad of baby rats. If those banks start repeating their shitty moves, I’ll be on to them like that hawk, and I’ll launch peck-’em-into-pieces legislation that’ll separate their lending from their gambling and their bonuses from their pockets so far you’d need an intergalactic umbilical cord to connect them.”

(Of course, in the privacy of your handy backroom, you were free to share a wink and a nod with the banks.)

Throwing red meat to your base is the easiest thing on earth. Say it loud, say it all the time, and make sure it’s empty. They’ll lap it up. All they want is the emotional connection. That secret feeling between you and them that hey, you may whore like a tomcat all over town, but when push comes to shove, there’s only one place where true love rules your libido, and that’s in their little beating bleeding hearts. You’ve got to keep titivating your base, baby. What’s the skin off your nose, for chrissake? A little hypocrisy goes a long way. It’s the number one tool in any politician’s kit.

Just one crude example. (Sorry, we’re not doing subtle today.)

Say, what do candles and flowers have to do with fucking? Absolutely nothing. But chicks dig them, so guys who want to get laid, put up with having perfumed candles lit in the bedroom, and the place smelling like a geisha’s crotch, and your most surly pleb of a horny rube thinks nothing of thrusting a bunch of roses he bought at the Korean deli at the groin of his anointed, and cannily pre-tickling his beloved’s amoreuse-sodden fun button with earrings or some such trinket from Target.

A few trinkets, and your base would’ve followed you over a cliff like rodents mesmerized by the wily Pied Piper. Now you’re looking at your hand instead of a sugar ditch, because you scrimped on the blandishments. Your base got nary a rose nor a glass of white wine at a corner table. So no candles are being lit for you.

How could you be so dumb?

Instead of studying Bill Clinton’s history for clues about what to do if you get stuck with a Republican House, you should be studying Lady Gaga.

There’s a lady who knows the first thing about staying popular.

It’s not jobs, jobs, jobs.

It’s base, base, base.

When that chick started out, queers said to themselves: hey, she’s just the perfect fag hag.

So they jumped on her: heck, she was the best thing since Judy Garland.

And little girls — those who felt trapped in their families — said to themselves, she’s got the independent outrageousness that secretly defines the inner me. Lady Gaga became the personification of how sassy a young girl could be and not only get away with it, but become popular and noted for it.

Every girl has a sass inside her wanting to come out.

Plus, Lady Gaga backed up her persona with the goods. She wrote great club dance tunes, maddeningly catchy, so both out-on-the-town dancing-queen queers and private-dancing-in-front-of-their-bedroom-mirrors princess girls, had a soundtrack to adore her by.

Lady Gaga also played to the dressing-up aesthetic of the little girls and the big queens by wearing crazy clothes. A veritable Carmen Miranda, who wore a fruit basket on her head because poor women in Brazil carried fruit home on their heads from the market. Lady Gaga wears a dress made of meat — same story, different time and place. Pretentious people call it performance art, because these two gestures make statements that go beyond mere fashion.

Now here’s the point about Lady Gaga and popularity. Lady Gaga wields Facebook and MTV and the media for one purpose only: to stay close to her base.

You don’t, which is why you’re dumb and she isn’t.

Heck, Lady Gaga has even given her fan base a pet name: “my little monsters.” You could’ve done something like that: “my Obamabots.” You could’ve embraced your own Boy Scout-loyal posse of millions in your own intimate pet talk. You could have stayed blazing like an eternal flame lit prettily in all four chambers of their hearts. Instead, you pulled out and the flame died.

Here’s another lesson to park between your big ears. When things started getting hot about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Discrimination, what did you do? Nothing.

What did Lady Gaga do? She played to her queer base: she invited gay and lesbian service folks who got fired by the Army for being lesbian and gay to accompany her to the MTV Awards. She went to a political rally and made a speech, bringing a lot of young people with her.

Lady Gaga knows how to play base politics, Obama, and you don’t. She has base instincts like Huey Long, while you have the base instincts of Marie Antoinette.

As for you progressives, all disappointed because Obama didn’t change Washington and stem the rise of the oceans, it’s time you got one thing through your pointy heads: you may be on the left of the Democrats and the Republicans, but you’re actually dead in the center of the country.

There’s no way America is a center-right country. If one more pundit says that again, I’ll have to hire one of those Hottentot Venus-bellied Army freight planes to cart away the puke in all my kitchen pots, and drop it on the chirping heads of the chatterati.

Go through every issue one by one, and you’ll find that a majority of voters back every single progressive position, from getting out of our wars to keeping Social Security and Medicare safe from Wall Street to the public option in healthcare to upping minimum wage etcetera right down the line. Jeez, American kids under 30 feel more positive about socialism than capitalism.

It’s time you progressives realized the Dems and Obama do not represent you or the country, and therefore you have to do to them what the Tea Party is doing to the GOP.

You have to take over the Democratic Party.

You can do it. Between Move On and the Change Campaign Committee and Daily Kos and Firedoglake and George Soros and Michael Moore and Rachel Maddow, you’ve got the firepower.

You’ve got to spend all the money you can raise on running progressive candidates against establishment Democratic candidates in every primary from now until forever, or till you’ve taken over the Dem Party. Whichever comes first. Pick ’em off one by one if that’s all you can afford, but pick off enough of them so sooner or later the rest of the Dems have to dance to your tune.

And make sure you nominate scary outsider people, labor union people, lefties with bigger mouths than Sarah Palin or Christine McDonnell or Sharron Angle. Passionate pitchfork-wavers who talk outrageous crapola about how they’re going to hang Wall Street by the thumbs when they get in and nationalize Big Oil and zap rich people with tax hikes that’ll make them gag on their Bollinger’s.

Scary sensational stuff. Angry rabble-rousing BS. Populist demagoguery of the juicily extreme kind.

Why? Because talking crazy gets you world domination on the TV machine and is a big enthusiasm getter. Where are the Sarah Palins and the Michele Bachmanns and the Sharron Angles of the left? That’s what progressives need. Their own angry deranged idiots. If the bile happens to spew forth from the fire-breathing pieholes of pretty fuckabillies, all the better. Whoever barks it, you want your piping-hot piffle sizzling so volcano-vicious it scares the crap out of the establishment all round.

Just like the establishment GOP folks fear Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party, the establishment Democratic Party folks have to fear you.

Most important, the President has to fear you.

He has to bow before you. Cringe. Prostrate himself and his gland. Brandish sackcloth and ashes. Kiss you all over 24/7.

Only a mortal fear for himself and his party will turn Obama from a compromiser into a fighter. From a moderate Democrat — aka a Republican — into a progressive. You’ve got to scare him left. (How about running Howard Dean or Alan Grayson against him in the 2012 presidential primary?)

Obama is nothing without your votes. The Democratic Party is nothing without your votes.

You are the soul of the Democratic Party, and you should rule it.

That’s all I have to say.

What a relief. Now I can revert to my Latinate Other, and sequester myself in the verdant arbor of Matthew Arnold and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, where one can doff high purpose and don Olympian diffidence with a dandy’s nonchalance, far from the madding coverage of November 2, 2010.

Apologies for the effluence of tempestuous and benthopelagic agog verbiage. It’s all your fault, dear hearts. Your hegemonic immensity of vacuity drives me to cling to the guns of my down-home vernacular.

So adieu and anon till November 2, sweet petulant Obama and darling prodigal progressives. See you after the cock-up of that buck-up-or-fuck-up.

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Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
13 years ago

that is brilliant.

derrida derider
derrida derider
13 years ago

What Paul said.

13 years ago

I’ll third that.