February 21, 2009

Obama Draws the Crazies out of the Woodwork

From McCain/Palin supporters intent on turning campaign rallies into lynch-mobs to cartoonists passing off thinly veiled metaphors for racist violence against our President as humor, Barack Obama's presidency doesn't exactly to promote subtlety- among other things- in his political opponents. While not quite as ugly as (although sometimes overlapping with) individuals with racially-based misgivings towards Obama, economic dissenters are equally prone to pant-wetting hysteria. Most conspicuously, Rick Santelli treated the TV-viewing public to a tantrum of epic proportions resulting from three possible causes: 1- A total loss of his shit, akin to a little child who just found out he will not get to ride the pony at his own birthday party; 2-A shameless desire to gain publicity by screaming simplistic economic ideas that would not be noteworthy if uttered at a reasonable volume; 3-A plan to send the video of his rant as an audition tape for a spot on the upcoming launch of "Real Housewives: Chicago."

This video is remarkable not for anything original or even all that intelligent in its message, but for its inherent contextual irony and its rapid proliferation on cable news by virtue of its sensational content. Santelli, a former derivatives trader, arouses populist sentiment on a trading floor against the "losers" struggling to stay afloat in economic circumstances beyond their control- circumstances created in part by Mr. Santelli and his ilk. The fact that he caps it off with "this is America-" referring to traders on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange- puts this in the "let them eat cake" league of out-of-touch, arrogant, douchebag elitism. The fact that a "journalist" would be rewarded with publicity for so flagrantly violating the standards of his profession confirms that cable news now takes its cues from reality TV: make as big a scene as possible and maybe you get your own spin-off.

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Finally: As far as "losers" are concerned, we would like to ask Mr. Santelli what you call a hack reporter who, rather than excel at his job, draws attention to himself by acting like a less rational version of Joe the Plumber and the cast of "Tool Academy." If we really need somebody to quote Ayn Rand at us, we'll just watch "Real Housewives of New York City." Alex McCord has us covered in that department.