A celebrity would be alright
Rob Lanphier
71

A celebrity President would be the perfect acknowledgement of everything wrong with America right now, goddammit.

(Wherein I make light of a disagreement by being overly aggressive and sarcastic so as to appear entertaining so that people will actually read this.)

Let me first say that Rob is a smart guy and he has great insight in to a lot of things, but I’m fully gonna (metaphorically) kick him down the stairs in the most brutal fashion for the article he just wrote, so here we go…

After reading some of the points Rob made, it’s clear that there are several things I need to establish before we get this beat-down going, most of which I hold to be self-evident. But it’s clear I will need to explain them in order to unleash the appropriate furies related to the main theme:

  1. First of all, being “good” at business does not mean that you will be good at understanding the nuances of international politics at the level the US needs to perform. It’s a totally different type of dealmaking and it requires a totally different set of skills and experience. However, since Americans seem fully incapable of disassociating wealth with good decision-making due to their obsessive belief that Capitalism is the bestest thing ever, I’m gonna have to grant Rob a mulligan on this point.
  2. Obama was not a great president, despite what lefties constantly tell themselves to in order to reach liberal climax. He was very good at navigating the office given the circumstances presented to him (what with the savage and unrelenting undermining of his presidency from every single fucking Republican in office), but he oversaw a lot of pretty shady shit that furthered the goal of unhindered American hegemony (which the Republicans were unsurprisingly totally cool with). This included lots o’ drone strikes, enhanced and illegal government surveillance, and a pretty solid record on maintaining the status quo.
  3. Hillary didn’t lose the election for any other reason than this: her last name is Clinton. Her name alone evokes in many Americans minds the very essence of the Establishment, in the same way the names Kennedy or Bush do. She is not a bad spokesperson, it’s just that, as that spokesperson, she speaks for the fucking Establishment. It pains me to see people not taking away the one salient point from the last election that seems to evade all intelligent discourse about the outcome: people are fucking sick of the status quo! I mean, c’mon, Rob! [punch]

Now, let’s get started smacking the crap out of the main point Rob is trying to make, which is that we’ve all gone batshit nuts and want to put people like Oprah or The Rock or Kid Rock or fuck-it-why-not Stone Cold Steve Austin (in keeping with geologically-based celebrities) in charge of nuclear launch codes. Also, they would need to actually run the executive branch of the government, but let’s not get all Chomsky and obsessed with the details political leadership. The problem here is the notion that an outsider with no experience in politics would somehow be able to perform the functions of top-ranking political official simply by virtue of disrupting politics-as-usual and generally not knowing what the fuck is going on. The obvious choice to back up this theory is everyone’s favourite Capitalist Cowboy, Ronald Reagan, whose claims to presidential fame include outspending the Russians on the military and forgetting a lot of shit that could land him in jail. Of course, Reagan did have a fair amount of political experience prior to his presidency, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just his actoring skills that made him such a good liar. What he DID do, however, was become the precursor to the current and substrate problem that is the crux of the issue I take with Rob’s argument: politics as entertainment.

America now demands not just that politicians entertain them, but that entertainers become politicians. This is an interesting change from the Orwellian (named for the oppressive fascism of George Orwell’s fantastic book 1984) forecasting that happened under the Bushes to the Huxleyian (spelled wrong, no doubt, but Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World, where society operates on unrestrained and unthinking hedonism) model that Rob appears to inadvertently support. Because really what America wants is to be comfortable and safe and stupid and not worry about complicated things like “civil rights” or “other countries”. And, to be fair to Rob’s point, this is exactly what a celebrity president would bring to the table: the dumbing-down of society we all not-so-secretly crave.

We’re all so exhausted from the actual realities of politics — the realities that Obama shielded us from and the realities we think can be fixed by magical invisible-hand-of-the-market business sense and the realities that Hillary could have actually competently navigated given that she helped to create them — that we’ve essentially just resorted to shuffling around in our pyjamas with a tub of cookie dough ice cream and have full-on given up. This is the cynicism that I find so repellant and what has caused me to launch in to a violent rage-reply to Rob’s article [more punches]. It’s this insular American notion that somehow capable politicians are the stuff of legend and cannot possibly exist in this fucked up time rift (or time line… sci-fi nerds will correct me, I’m sure) we call The Age of Trump. However, other countries around the world (the notable current exception being the UK) seem to be able to produce functional politicians who know how to actually attend a meeting of world leaders and come away with policy improvements that will not just help this generation, but future ones. You put a celebrity in that situation and they come away with good ratings for the week, because that’s all their nation demands of them.

I mean for fuck’s sake, if you’re gonna turn the presidency in to Keeping Up With the Klintons, then you better get ready for some seriously short-sighted policy [kick]. How do I know this? Because that’s exactly what the current celebrity president is doing. Undoing years of policymaking because the complexities of the policies don’t sell well to slack-jawed idiots watching their glowing rectangles and eating their cookie dough ice cream (yum). If you allow politics to operate in the same way as entertainment, you open a Pandora’s box of shitty policy that you can’t put the lid back on. The president is not just a spokesperson, carefully crafting support for public policy through soothsaying and wordsmithing — the president IS policy. For America to gain back the respect it’s lost internationally (which, due to decades of narcissistic self-felation unfortunately does not matter to most Americans) it will take the election of a president who actually knows what the fuck they’re doing — not just one that pretends to know.

Before I finish this with a Swayze-esque roundhouse kick, I’d like to pose the same final question as the soon-to-be-knocked-out Rob: who can actually run as a competent AND popular politician in America anymore? What makes me so fightin’ mad is that the political discourse in America’s nightmare-that-is-Trump has made this almost impossible. There are people who could do it, but they probably won’t reveal themselves when the time suits us. But let’s not abandon hope with a shrug and hand the keys to the West Wing gym to Dwayne Johnson (his most presidential name) just yet. If America as a concept was ever good at anything, it’s finding solutions to hard problems — not giving up when things get tough. There are lots of American movies about this. It’s too bad Patrick Swayze is no longer with us. He would have made a great president [roundhouse kick].