September 24, 2009

Long Live Manchuria!

Wartime poster for the United Nations, (1943) U.S. Office of War Information.

It has been less than one year. The planet hasn't even circled the sun once, and history is repeating itself.

Last October, an obscure writer in one of those conservative blogs got my attention, as voters prepared to perform the lemming-like swoon over the advent of Obama the
" . . . silver tounged orator . . . elected out of nowhere . . . in the midst of severe and difficult economic conditions . . . promising to unify a nation "under attack" from a significant religious minority . . . with a mandate to lead America's "return to it's rightful place" as the deserving and superior leader of the world's nations . . ."
After reading the text of the president's speech to the U.N., I should delete the word "superior." The word "leader" is probably on the way out, too.

Our American Apology drones on, with its worn platitudes heaped upon polyannish idealism, starched with paternalistic hogwash. The speech is an excellent piece of nothingness fit for the vacuous pretense of TV news digests. The only thing missing was self-flagellation and a heartfelt rendition of "Kumbaya." Still, I am fairly certain that Rev. Jeremiah Wright loves the subtext of this globalized, repentant and idyllic view of Babel, thinking it will forestall "America's chickens" from coming home to roost. The Manchurian Candidate is the Manchurian President, but look on the bright side, the reality of Obama is that we now have a sure-fire cure for insomnia. Read it and snooze.

Jack Cashill is professor of American Studies at Purdue University and author of works which include Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Hijacked American Culture. When his article (click on title) was published last October, I heard few other voices in the echo chamber of the blogosphere that revealed Obama's radical roots with as much evidence as Cashill presented. He ran the paper chase, beginning with "bad poetry" written in 1981, through the years at Harvard Law Review, to the seemingly sudden success of Dreams of My Father which, in 1995, prompted Joe Klein of Time magazine to explode his pants and proclaim it "the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician." Ever.

Time out. Professor Cashill has the floor:
"[G]iven the biases of the literary establishment, no reviewer of note has so much as questioned Obama's role in the writing, then or now. [. . .]

Shy of a confession by those involved, I will not be able to prove conclusively that Obama did not write this book. As shall be seen, however, there are only two real possibilities: one is that Obama experienced a near miraculous turnaround in his literary abilities; the second is that he had major editorial help, up to and including a ghostwriter. [. . .]

The weight of the evidence overwhelming favors the latter conclusion and strongly suggests who that ghostwriter is."
I know what you're thinking. Oh, boy, another loony right wing rant with birther-slash-truther-slash-teabagger flavoring, loose with the facts and laced with conspiracy theory. But, before you render judgment, may I suggest a double dose of sobriety should you choose to read the professor's thesis. If you still think Obama actually wrote Dreams after a fair reading of Professor Cashill, then congratulations, you are indeed a more loyal member of the flock than I.

But, that's not all.

Just yesterday, political eons removed from that election season inquiry, another ivory-tower egghead who thrives on alpha-numeric digital sustenance for the betterment of society, has seen fit to make light of the fact that 759 literal similarities are more than mere coincidence. Ron Radosh is a history professor at the City University of New York who lends credence to Cashill's conclusion.

Critical analysis of the writing style in Dreams is more than merely ravings from a political crank. It's another dot for dying conservatism to connect, along with ACORN de-funding, the ensuing scandal, the Van Jones hiring and firing, the attacks on the CIA, the "stupid" Cambridge cops incident, the . . . oh, hell, just stop. Stop. "YOU LIE!"

Look. Lee Seigel at the Daily Beast writes that despite the roiling rudeness that was the August break, despite radio and Fox News, in sweeping through the Sunday talk shows, and appearing with late night light-heartedness, President Obama has forced opponents to bend to the fact that, because of television, he really is the person in charge of this country. Rush Limbaugh's characterization of the United Nations as a "Star Wars bar scene" is no less ironic when you consider that pre-Slim Fast Rush would have to be given serious consideration by any casting director looking for a Jabba the Hut.

The friction between conservatives and liberals may well be a manifestation of a larger, mega-trend which pits technological adeptness in the medium of radio against that of television. You use your mind to participate in radio's theater. With television, an attention span is optional. It may also explain the ferocity of the internet as the modern barometer of political discourse. Digital politics ensures that the exchange of ideas remains important, that individuals are still empowered and responsible for themselves to determine their merit, and that attempts to silence dissent remains the way of tyrants.

The medium is the message, and the message is: Repeat after me. We are at war. Deal with it.
© 2009 Roy Barin Santonil


  1. AGREED. Well stated.


    "The visual" (the entertainer formerly known alone as TV) per se

    IS NOT WEAK: see YouTube.

    The "issue" is "control" of the message.

  2. McCluhan's 160-page seminal work titled The Medium is the Massage (typo intended) proclaimed that content is subsumed to communicative technologies, which are extensions of human perception. The "visual per se" certainly is not weak, but neither is the "auditory per se." We even have the tactile, olfactory, and palatable "per se." Control depends on the medium, because content has become pretty much irrelevant to the medium. The medium IS the MASS AGE.


You Have the Floor:

LCDR Rosendo T. "Ross" Santonil, USN (1931- 2011)

A SON'S EULOGY : My Father's last words to me, as I was moving away with my wife and child to another land, are still preserved ...