Let’s talk about you, B.O. No, not the stench one normally has to put up with on the London Underground when pushed up against a fellow passenger’s armpit. No, the B.O. I want to discuss today has capital letters and rules – apparently – over the richest country of the world.
|Do we need to change the caption?
We were all there, weren’t we? Well, some of us were. November 2008. That historic night is still seared in my memory, despite the fact I am not American and it’s unlikely I will ever get to vote in a general election there. But, I, too, left my cynical pragmatism aside and for one night allowed myself to dream.
How wrong I was. I don’t mean to say that getting behind Obama was a mistake. I don’t mean to say either that the US would have been better served by the McCain/Palin axis of evil/stupidity. What I really, really mean is that I should have been less idealistic and more reality-rooted. Presidents, like prime ministers are not subjected to normal laws like us, earthlings. Their line-managers are not the teachers, doctors and community leaders who put them in pole position. No, presidents and prime ministers report to Mr Power. And Mr Power sits a healthy distance away from the rest of us, Mr and Mrs Powerless.
When Mr Power coughs up, he (for it is usually a “he”, although there are some “shes”, too) doesn’t just cough up for the privilege of electing whom he thinks will respond better to his interests. He will also pay for the candidate-turned-president/prime minister’s transformation from a moderate to a demagogue.
Obama the candidate was a firebrand. Notice the past tense. Obama the president is a hawk. True, dressed as a dove and more articulate than former Hawk-in-Chief George W Bush, but a hawk nonetheless. He has not closed Guantanamo as he promised during his election campaign and the drone attacks he has ordered on suspect terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan have caused untold civilian casualties.
Small wonder, then, that Obama’s approval ratings have taken a dive. And along with it public trust in him has also collapsed. What makes it harder to bear is that he was the candidate sporting the “Yes, we can” motto. Now that “Yes, we can” stands more for “Yes, we can spy more, bomb more countries and still torture people in Guantanamo”.
Am I being unfair? What do you reckon? After all, Obama did not force anyone to jump on his “hope” bandwagon. Remember, he never claimed to be a radical, we turned him into one. Furthermore, the “hope” he came to symbolise could only be translated into success if the change that was supposed to come with it was shared equally and not entrusted just to one single person. From that point of view we should take ownership of our collective disappointment in Obama. We might have projected a utopia on a person whose top priority on taking office might have been to distance himself from his predecessor by adopting a more moderate agenda. We ought to also take into account Republicans’ opposition to some of Obama’s reforms, like his Health Care Plan known as Obamacare.
However, that does not excuse his support for Mr Power. Obama was elected to change the lives of Mr and Mrs Powerless. It is fair to say that many Americans are still waiting for that change.
From the serious to the absurd. You have to hand it to certain celebrities sometimes. Just when you think they cannot get any more ego-centric and stupid, they... well, they carve their names in the Guinness World records as the thickest beings ever to populate planet Earth. I would happily trade a Kanye West and Kim Kardashian for a couple of dinosaurs. Preferably the cute, herbivore type. Diplodocus, anyone?
The latest act of idiocy comes from Will.i.am, he of hip-hop combo The Black Eyed Peas and one of the judges on BBC’s The Voice. Apparently he’s got into a verbal spat with Pharrell Williams, one half of hip-hop duo The Neptunes. The latter has just come up with a new brand, i am OTHER. Will.i.am. has allegedly claimed that he owns the copyright to the phrase “i.am.
Don’t look at me like that. I kid you not. Forget Waterloo in 1815 and Moscow in 1942. This is the mother of all battles, ladies and gentleman! And it’s happening right here, right now, in front of our very eyes.
Just a message for Will.i.am. Forget Pharrell for a second, son. You have bigger fish to fry. Here are some of the people who came before Pharrell and whom you are going to have to fight if you want to have your way:
Kirk Douglas (I am Spartacus)
Dr Seuss (I do not like green eggs and ham/I do not like them, Sam I am)
God (I Am that I Am)
The English language (latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary or equivalent)
The list goes on, but you know what? I am done with stupid celebrities for today. Have a great week, folks.
Next Post: “Pieces of Me, Pieces of Havana”, to be published on Wednesday 3rd July at 11:59pm MT)