Audacity of Propaganda,
Natalia J. Garland
Scott Brown won; President Obama lost. When Brown recently won Ted
Kennedy's old Senate seat, despite Obama having campaigned for the
Democratic opposition, it both demonstrated and symbolized the
public's lack of satisfaction with the Obama presidency and the
Democratic domination of American government. Brown's victory was
not only over Obama, but also over the Obama-Chicago political
machine and the Kennedy-Massachusetts machine.
Brown's victory showed that if America had it to do all over
again--that is, if the 2008 election were taking place
today--Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin would be in the
White House right now. And, if we pushed hindsight back even
further, perhaps the Republican Party would not have nominated
McCain as their candidate. Perhaps today we would be listening to
speeches by President Romney or President Huckabee.
The point is that
Obama now seems to have failed to keep his campaign promises and
seems to have attempted to re-organize American government in a
way which many Americans find objectionable. Depending on one's
political critique, Obama is regarded as having totally failed or
as having given only mediocre performance as president. Anyway,
there are a lot of people--Democrats and Republicans--who find him
In Part II of this
essay, I listed some of Obama's failures. Today, I will discuss
what seem to be Obama's reactions to or explanations (excuses?) for
his failures. I will also include his recent mention of the
Bolshevik Revolution in this vein of thought. Beforehand, however,
I want to review what a couple of others have said about Scott
Brown. The first quotation below is from an article by Byron York,
the second is from the Neo Neo-Con blog. York's article was
written before Brown was elected, but the content is pertinent to
Scott Brown (1)
There's a lot of talk about the possibility that Brown will become
the 41st Republican senator, the lawmaker who can stop the
Democrats' national health care plan. That's important, but here in
Massachusetts, it's perhaps more important that Brown is seen as
the solution to the problem of too much one-party government. As
the Brown team sees it, the political situation in Massachusetts,
dominated by the Democratic party and increasingly marked by
corruption (three consecutive state Speakers of the House have been
indicted and forced to resign in disgrace) is making state voters
wary about the one-party domination of Washington, where Democratic
leaders are rushing toward new extremes of federal spending and
government intrusion. "I think I represent a breath of fresh
air, where people know that I'm going to go down to Washington to
be a check and balance," Brown says.
When Brown talks about what he's up against, he says it very
simply: "It's me against the machine." By that, he means
the Massachusetts machine--the Democratic party, the patronage,
the entrenched network--as well as the national machine that has
targeted him since word got out that he might win. "It's
revving up," Brown tells reporters at Zoll. "They have
MoveOn.org, SEIU just took out a major buy, potentially the
president is coming this weekend." Brown has his own
weapons--talk radio and conservative Web activists have been huge
helps--but in Massachusetts at least, he's still
[End of quote.]
Scott Brown (2)
The other day I was watching an in-depth personal profile of Scott
Brown by Fox's Greta Van Susteren. It featured interviews with the
newly-elected senator's friends, neighbors, former colleagues in
the state senate, ex-coaches, and even the guy who fixes Brown's
They all seemed to genuinely love the guy (the car mechanic also
verified the authenticity and antiquity of the famous vehicle).
Person after person spoke warmly and even joyously of Brown's depth
of character (in many cases, going back to his high school days):
his work ethic, his integrity, his drive, his intelligence and
affability, and his just-folks quality despite all this. The
consensus was: what you see is what you get, and it's all good.
It struck me that, less than a week after the Brown election, we've
already heard more good things from friends of the
previously-unknown Brown than we've heard about Obama from his
friends in the more than two years he's been in the spotlight. In
fact, if it weren't for Obama's shady friends--the ones he suddenly
wasn't all that friendly with, or whose dirty deeds he hadn't
really known that much about after all, such as Ayers, Rezko, and
Wright--we'd think him nearly friendless.
[End of quote.]
Now, let's look at
how Obama seems to react when things go wrong or when he seems to
anticipate resistance to his ideas. Although Obama has repeatedly
used words such as cynic, partisan, and
obstructionist, I have chosen only a few examples to make
my point. There is no need to try to list every instance--anyone
who has ever listened to Obama's speeches knows that my selection
of these words is accurate to and typical of Obamian content. I
chose some quotations from more recent speeches because of the
ease of availability and in order to update this series of essays
with current concerns.
Obamian Explanation for Failure
I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that many of you, if you
voted with the administration on something, are politically
vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You've given
yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because
what you've been telling your constituents is, this guy is doing
all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America.
And I would just say that we have to think about tone. It's not
just on your side, by the way--it's on our side, as well. This is
part of what's happened in our politics, where we demonize the
other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things
done, it becomes tough to do.
From Obama's remarks at the
GOP House Issues Conference, 01/29/10.
Frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you would think that
this thing was a Bolshevik plot. That's how you presented it. I'm
thinking to myself, how is it that a plan that is pretty
centrist--no, look. I'm just saying. I know you guys disagree, but
if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers
would say this is actually what many Republicans--it is similar to
what many republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing
his debate on health care.
So, all I'm saying is, we've got to close the gap a little bit
between the rhetoric and the reality. I'm not suggesting that we're
going to agree on everything, whether it's on health care, energy
or what have you. But if the way these issues are being presented
by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose
huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you
guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with
From Obama's remarks at the GOP House Issues
[End of quote.]
No wonder there's so much cynicism out there. No wonder there's so
I campaigned on the promise of change--change we can believe in,
the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who
aren't sure if they still believe we can change--or that I can
But remember this--I never suggested that change would be easy, or
that I could do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million
people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to
do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and
controversy. That's just how it is.
From Obama'a State of
the Union Address, 01/27/10.
[End of quote.]
And in this cause, every one of us--every American, every elected
official--can do our part. Instead of giving into cynicism and
division, let's move forward with the confidence and optimism and
unity that defines us as a people. For now is not a time for
partisanship, it's a time for citizenship--a time to come together
and work together with the seriousness of purpose that our national
From Obama's remarks on Strengthening
Intelligence and Aviation Security, 01/07/10.
And it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to
guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or
anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to
explain their frustrations.
From Obama's remarks on his
difficulty getting working-class votes in the Midwest
[End of quote.]
If you disagree with
Obama, then you are a cynic, partisan, or an obstructionist. I
think the label cynic is the most disturbing because
cynicism is not a typical American attitude. Americans are,
generally, an optimistic, resilient, and generous people. It is as
though Obama places the public in an either/or bind: either
you agree with him or you are a cynic. And nobody wants to be a
cynic--and that's the very bind!
When Obama gave his
State of the Union Address in January, he said, "I know there
are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can
change--or that I can deliver it." We cannot really know what
was in Obama's heart when he said that. Perhaps it was a moment of
honest introspection. Anyway, every time I feel favorably
impressed by Obama, he says something else to uncoil my pathos and
to dangle doubt and distrust from the frayed ribbon of his message.
Obama went on to
add, "And when you try to do big things and make big changes,
it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is."
In other words, it is not his fault. This is just the way things
are (which almost contradicts any concept of hope and change, which
in turn would make you a cynic). Passions and
controversy seem like code words for cynicism, partisanship,
Now, Obama is trying
to do big things. So, if you are disappointed with his progress,
then it is because you are a cynic or because you
do not understand how things get done. What appears on the surface
to be a reasonable explanation, is possibly a blaming of others and
an attempt to restore a narcissistic self-reflection (see
Part II of this essay for a definition). A narcissist, for
example, cannot bear to admit to any imperfection or incompetence:
such admission would be an affront to the grandiose self.
Do I hear someone
asking, "What about when Obama said 'the buck stops here?'
Did he not accept responsibility for his actions?" Okay,
Obama sometimes makes strong statements like that. I am the
President. I am the first African-American President. The buck
stops here. But, are these statements of responsibility, or
could they be examples of what I call narcissistic
posturing? I would not say Obama is dramatic--not in a
theatrical sense--but there is a certain 'acting-as-if,' or an
imitation of someone who is important and in charge. Obama has an
almost statue-like presentation of himself. I am the
President seems not a statement of responsibility but a
self-affirmation, a reminder that he won the election in 2008 and
the Republicans lost, a sort of mantra or just another slogan.
Obama mentioned the
Bolshevik Revolution. I had to do some research on what he meant.
I was not aware that some politicians and bloggers think Obama is
conducting a Bolshevik Revolution in America. I know some have
referred to him as a socialist or Marxist who wants to impose
European-style socialism on America, but I had not heard the
specific accusations of Bolshevism. So, what was the Bolshevik
Revolution? Since I used the Glencoe World History textbook to
discuss Mao-Tse Tung (see Part I), I will turn to that book again
for a basic definition of the Bolshevik Revolution.
GLENCOE WORLD HISTORY TEXTBOOK
The Bolsheviks began as a small faction of a Marxist party called
the Russian Social Democrats. The Bolsheviks came under the
leadership of Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov, known to the world as V.I.
Under Lenin's direction, the Bolsheviks became a party dedicated to
violent revolution. Lenin believed that only violent revolution
could destroy the capitalistic system. A "vanguard"
(forefront) of activists, he said, must form a small party of
well-disciplined professional revolutionists to accomplish the
At the same time, the Bolsheviks reflected the discontent of the
people. They promised an end to the war, the redistribution of all
land to the peasants, the transfer of factories and industries from
capitalists to committees of workers, and the transfer of
government power to the soviets. Three simple slogans summed up
the Bolshevik programs: "Peace, Land, Bread,"
"Worker Control of Production," and "All Power to
This overthrow of the provisional government coincided with a
meeting in Petrograd of the all-Russian Congress of Soviets which
represented local soviets from all over the country. Outwardly,
Lenin turned over the power of the provisional government to the
Congress of Soviets. The real power, however, passed to a Council
of People's Commissars, headed by Lenin.
[End of quotes.]
Let's go through
the Glencoe excerpts point by point. One great difference between
Obama and Lenin is that Obama does not advocate a violent overthrow
of American capitalism. Moreover, if Americans do not like what
Obama is doing, they can vote for someone else in the next
election. Nevertheless, there are some similarities that warrant
inquiry. These similarities could be coincidental or they could
indicate a troubling reality.
Obama seems politically immersed in an elite group of hardcore
liberals, radicals, and extreme multiculturalists.
Obama's presidential campaign was superbly well-disciplined.
discontent of the people...
Many Democrats had an intense hatred of George W. Bush. And, there
were a few but outspoken individuals who believed in 9/11
conspiracy theories (i.e., that Bush orchestrated the attack on the
World Trade Center).
end to the war...
Many Americans wanted withdrawal from the Iraq War.
redistribution of...the transfer of...
Obama could be suspected of having begun such a process through
his affiliation with ACORN and SEIU, and through the economic
crisis bailouts and the proposed healthcare bill. Obama's views
on illegal immigration (amnesty and a pathway to citizenship)
could also possibly fall into this category.
...a Council of
Obama has appointed a large number of czars who are accountable
only to him.
The Glencoe textbook
goes on to say that Lenin was able to achieve his revolution, in
part, because the opposition was not united. Some Russians wanted
to return to an aristocracy, others wanted a more democratic form
of government. It remains to be seen if the American opposition to
Obama becomes united. At present, the Republican Party is
re-energizing its platform. If Republicans can harness the Tea
Party Movement, fiscal and social conservatives, and possibly
dissatisfied Democrats, as well as nominate a suitable candidate
for 2012, then the Republican opposition can be viable. We have
already witnessed this viability with the election of Scott Brown.
The people are discontented again--this time with Obama.
therefore, two major differences between Obama and Lenin: Obama
will not use violence, and the opposition to Obama may become
united, focused, and the majority. If Obama were to effect any
sort of revolution, it would have to be accomplished mainly through
propaganda as a means of getting the votes and persuading people
that his ideas are in their best interests.
If Obama had really
wanted to counteract accusations of Bolshevism, he should have done
something in the same manner as I did--that is, give a point by
point defense of his policies and strategy. He should have
honestly revealed his political relationships and affiliations,
past and present. He should have clarified the direction in which
he wants to take America.
In the above
quotations, Obama never denied any tendency toward socialism. He
talked about a tendency to demonize one another, as though doubts
and distrust of him could not be taken seriously. The other side
has demonized him and that is why it is difficult for him to get
things done. The reality is that even some of his fellow Democrats
are unhappy with him. Obama should have made a precise statement
such as: I am not a socialist, in the same way that he says
I am the President. Instead, he reversed the focus of the
issue: "what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room
to negotiate with me." In other words, you are the one
with a problem.
Obama went on to make matters worse. At the Senate Democratic
Policy Committee Issues Conference, Obama made remarks that can
only be described as censorship. This censorship or, at least,
this dislike of FOX News in particular, is not new. It can be
traced back to 2004 in a little-known interview with Chicago
Sun Times reporter, Cathleen Falsani. In other words, this is a
pattern with Obama. The difference between then and now seems to
be that the tendency toward censorship now includes ALL the cable
T.V. news programs as well as the blogs.
Last point I would make about this. You know what I think would
actually make a difference, Michael--I think if everybody
here--excuse all the members of the press who are here--if
everybody here turned off your CNN, your FOX, your--just turn off
the TV--MSNBC, blogs--and just go talk to folks out there, instead
of being in this echo chamber where the topic is constantly
politics--the topic is politics. It is much more difficult to get a
conversation focused on how are we going to help people than a
conversation about how is this going to help or hurt somebody
And that's part of what the American people are just sick
of--because they don't care, frankly, about majority and minorities
and process and this and that. They just want to know, are you
delivering for me? And we've got to, I think, get out of the echo
chamber. That was a mistake that I think I made last year, was just
not getting out of here enough. And it's helpful when you
From Obama's remarks at the Senate Democratic Policy
Committee Issues Conference, 02/03/10.
I haven't been challenged in those direct ways. And to that extent,
I give the public a lot of credit. I'm always stuck by how much
common sense the American people have. They get confused sometimes,
watch FOX News or listen to talk radio. That's dangerous sometimes.
But generally, Americans are tolerant and I think recognize that
faith is a personal thing, and they may feel very strongly about
an issue like abortion or gay marriage, but if they discuss it with
me as an elected official they will discuss it with me in those
terms and not, say, as 'you call yourself a Christian.' I cannot
recall that ever happening.
From Obama's interview with
Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun Times,
[End of quote.]
turn off the cable news, turn off talk-radio, and stay away from
blogs in order not to become confused? What's left?! Obama's
speeches? I understand that much news nowadays is really
commentary, and that some news stories go unreported or
under-reported while others are over-emphasized. It is as though
Obama is saying: Do not listen to the T.V. propaganda, but
listen only to my propaganda. What Americans need to do is to
listen to the news programs which they trust the most, and to
balance their news intake by listening to other stations as
well--find out what the opposition is saying; sometimes they are
correct. And, do some fact-checking on the internet.
Can anyone really
imagine a world without blogs? Without citizen journalists?
Especially given the fact that much mainstream media coverage is
biased--often biased in favor of Obama? I cannot help taking this
personally. I write for the web. My essays are not dangerous. I
do my research and I document my sources. I also make it clear
that I could be wrong, that my essays are works in progress. Yes,
I analyze, evaluate, and interpret: but I regard my readers as
intelligent enough to assess the validity of my work. It's all
about checking sources and using critical thinking.
Obama says that
people are tired of politics. He said, "They just want to
know, are you delivering for me?" My suspicion is that this
means entitlements, guarantees, and special interests. People want
politicians to keep their promises, but that should also include
protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the press. So,
"...the topic is constantly politics..." because we need
to know how Obama thinks, what his relationships and affiliations
are, and what he is doing. If Obama is engaged in politics (i.e.
'politics as usual'), then we need this information. Writing and
reading blogs is one of the ways people "...get a conversation
focused on how are we going to help people..."
President Obama: if
you want to deliver for me, then please do not discourage people
from reading my essays. (Written 02/22/10: bibliography available.)
Comparison to the Bolshevik Revolution does not entirely describe
Obamian politics. Let us look at how Communism was able to develop
in Europe. The following quotation is from The End of the
Eurocommunism was adopted by the great Communist parties of Western
Europe in response to the decline of Soviet prestige after the
events in Hungary and Czechoslovakia; had they not distanced
themselves from Russia, the European Communisits feared, they would
have risked losing votes to their closest competitors, the
socialists. Moreover, many leading Communists were severely
shocked by Russia's ruthless actions. The advocates of
Eurocommunism also made the point that in a society characterized
by a mixed economy, where large industrial enterprises belong to
the government and where much of the economy is directed by the
government, it makes no sense to overthrow the regime. Europe in
the 1970s was quite different from the society Marx had analyzed
and from the society encountered by the Bolsheviks in 1917 Russia.
In contemporary Europe it made more sense to join the government
and extend its sphere of control until a socialist society evolved.
Beyond these shared ideas the motives for adopting Eurocommunism
varied according to the conditions characterizing each
[End of quote.]
model, rather than the Bolshevik model, is perhaps more aligned
with the method by which socialism could be developing in America
today under the leadership of President Obama. One might say that
Obama has joined the government, that he is working within existing
structures while extending his sphere of control over those
structures, and that eventually a socialist society could evolve.]
Until we meet