Barack Obama may have found his market niche: President Calm soothing national nerves. George W. was too smirky for this task; he liked to wing it when he could. Not PC. He's stern, serious, responsible for whatever carries him to the next appearance, borrowing Truman's buck-stopping boast.
Reactionaries aren't mollified, demanding that PC be as unbalanced as them. But that's not PC's brand. Not yet, anyway. If something bigger than a burning crotch explodes, perhaps Obama will release the mad bird from his brain. President Calm morphs into President Crazy, just in time for the midterms and the all-important, planet-saving second run.
Of course, this is all stage-managed bullshit, leavened with hints of desperation. The human masks barely cover the mutant skulls. Our owners and managers are increasingly skittish and erratic, putting added pressure on Obama to assure consumers that God's Nation remains safe and under control.
It's amazing how little it takes to rattle our insane system. A man kisses his lover past an airline gate, and Newark Airport is shut down. A drunken passenger locks himself in a plane's bathroom, and two F-16s scramble into action. Full cavity searches are deemed too soft and terror friendly. Now travelers must submit to Terminator-type plasma scans. The American police state tightens its grip with each fresh scare, regardless of actual danger or threat. And we march quietly along, accepting our fate as potential suspects for any conceivable crime.
I suppose it was inevitable. Earlier scenarios like the Libyan hit squads and Sandinista spy networks seem like grade-school dress rehearsals compared to now. The 9/11 hijackers recognized what it took to really push Americans 'round the bend, having a deeper understanding of who we actually are, as opposed to how we fantasize about ourselves. The fantasy cracked but didn't shatter that day. Elites and their publicists have tried to keep the dreamscape going despite worsening conditions and lack of adequate equipment. The strain on their faces is reflected in our tired, vacant stares. Good thing we have Sarah Palin to kick around.
Speaking of terror, note the lack of concern over Israel's ongoing decimation of Gaza. The IDF recently pounded that caged population, butchering who knows how many Gazans, grinding the rest further into the sewage and rubble. That our tax dollars finance the carnage (with Obama's full consent) seems to only bother the active few. For most, a glimpse of a partial headline or newsbyte confirms that they're all nuts over there, to hell with them, where's my fucking cell, and is satellite really better than cable? Familiar rhythms of distant suffering are almost soothing, once you stop giving a shit.
Enjoyed "The Baader Meinhof Complex" the other night, a slick depiction of the Red Army Faction, West Germany's version of the Weather Underground. Well, to be accurate, the RAF made Weather look as weak and pitiful as it actually was. The RAF had no problem blowing up occupied buildings, engaging cops in gun fights, shooting kicking clawing until they were either killed or jailed, which drove some to suicide. Say what you want about them, but the RAF took their gig seriously. They weren't a collection of American poseurs.
They were also very stylish, perfect for a GQ fashion spread or designer clothing line. As old friend Darius James pointed out to me, Seventies terrorists were jet-setting hedonists, as committed to fucking and partying as to bombing, kidnapping, and killing. Today's jihadist militants have no fun at all. They disdain earthly pleasures, separating themselves from the natural world. They are grim, have zero interest in maximizing The Total Now (to quote the Manson gang) before being consumed by flame. Call me a misty nostalgist, but which type of terrorist would you prefer?
Ulrike Meinhof came off more fragile than I imagined she'd be. She was an artist who tried to make the switch to urban guerrilla, and it just didn't take. Her hardened comrades rejected Meinhof near the end, but fanned her myth for their supporters and sympathizers. Whatever moves the masses.
Gudrun Ensslin was crazy hot, which might explain the number of young men willing to live underground near her (women too -- Meinhof seemed intimately drawn to her). But Ensslin's heart and mind belonged to Andreas Baader, for whom she'd do anything. Baader was megalomaniacal, theatrical, reckless, and prone to psychotic fits of rage. He reminded me a lot of Christopher Hitchens, bellowing for indiscriminate slaughter, yelling at those who dared disagree with him, calling them fascists and sell outs. At least Baader did his own killing, backing his rhetoric with action, whereas Hitchens got his ass kicked in Beirut. Think Andreas Baader would've gone down so easily?