Have you seen that creepy “I Pledge” video making the rounds on the Interwebs? It’s a four-minute montage of Hollywood Obamatons making goobery resolutions in honor of our new Maximum Leader.
“I pledge to smile more … to laugh more … to love more,” purr three willowy stars. “I pledge to sell my obnoxious car and buy a hybrid,” says another. Jason Bateman offers a more Rabelaisian vow: “For the environment, I pledge to flush only after a deuce, never a single.”
Celebrities … what would we do without them?The “I Pledge” clip is twerpy and moralistic, but also kind of sweet. The queasy-making part comes at the end, when the video’s creators, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, pledge “to be a servant to our president and all mankind.”
With all the problems President Barack Obama faces – the economy is now losing about 600,000 jobs a month – it’s just his luck that he’d have to deal with a bunch of famous lapdogs committing indecent love acts on his leg. My inclination is to defend the nation’s small-r republican honor by mocking those ding-dongs and their hokey messianism. But that’s me.
A less generous response comes from a blue-collar guy who lives in the Midwest, a part of the country Ashton and Demi usually only see from their first-class window seats (if part of their pledge is to fly commercial, too). He e-mailed:
“They and Barack want me to do more, to work harder? I just bailed out every stupid company in America, you [deleted]! We’re going to be saved because Puff Daddy is going to turn his lights out? I’m supposed to buy a $30,000 hybrid because some Hollywood [deleted] tells me I should?”
Actually, that’s a highly sanitized version of what Blue-Collar Guy wrote. The dude is angry. He knows perfectly well that the liberal cultural elite have no use for people like him and tend to regard his kind as bitter, racist mouth-breathers who “cling to guns or religion” because, the thinking goes, they don’t have jobs.
Blue-Collar Guy is no Joe the Plumber, though. Later, he added: “The so-called conservative Republicans make me puke more than the Democrats.” He explained in a post on my Beliefnet.com blog that the GOP pretends to look out for the cultural interests of people like him, but in practice it’s just as devoted as Democrats to corporations and lobbyists. He would have found a sympathetic white-collar ear in a disillusioned finance executive from Florida I spoke to recently. He told me he’d raised lots of money for his party but was burned out by politics.
“Democrats and Republicans both – it’s all about corporate money,” he said. “The little guy doesn’t have a chance.”
Tell Blue-Collar Guy about it. Explain to him how failed companies like Merrill Lynch can pick the taxpayer’s pocket for $15 billion while paying $4 billion in bonuses to their executives for destroying the company. Ask him if he, like ex-Merrill CEO John Thain, has a $35,000 “commode with legs.” Enlighten him about why he should listen to Tinseltown bien-pensants advise a nation losing 600,000 jobs a month to “Let them flush toilets” without wanting to storm their Bastille.
Granted, dim Demi didn’t trash the economy. But insofar as Hollywood’s smug political flibbertigibbetry inadvertently feeds populist rage and alienation, it’s not helpful.
Inflamed crowds of Icelanders who lost everything in the economic crash helped bring that nation’s government down last week. There has been major civil unrest in Greece and Latvia, with the same expected in other recession-wracked European nations. There is serious talk now that Great Britain – Great Britain! – could go bankrupt.
And what of us?
Don’t sneer at or underestimate the anger of Blue Collar Guy. We in the news media rarely see him, much less sympathize with him. But he knows what’s going on. He knows he’s not too big to fail. He knows where he stands in the eyes of power elites – and he’s figuring out where he’s got to take his stand when the time comes.
Oh, yeah … he’s armed. Gun sales have gone through the roof since the election.
If Obama fails, the corruption of the institutions of government, finance and even of culture – conditions he inherited from predecessors in both parties – will call up a predictable and quite possibly furious response. History shows that convulsive change – from the Protestant Reformation to the Russian Revolution – often comes when power elites are oblivious to both the effects of their behavior on the masses and their own vulnerability.
Embrace it or fight it as you will, but only entitlement-crazed Wall Street financiers and bubble-headed Hollywood flower children should be surprised by it. I pledge not to need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows