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Willard Jong-un

Last week I was traveling (off to Des Moines for family events and the Iowa State Fair). I've gotten used to reading news online. I rarely read a newspaper, expect when traveling by air or train. As I read the paper on my trip, I rediscovered the fun of turning newsprint pages. Often there are interesting layout juxtaposition of news stories, photos and/or ads that add to the experience and underscores an idea. There is an online echo of this, but it I just don't see it as often.

Above is the Opinion Page from the 8-16-12 issue of the paper. The two articles seemed to be talking about the same phenomena: the selling of a politician/leader without policies, history, background and any details about what they would do with power.

Both Willard Mitt Romney and Kim Jong-un are men of mystery. In both cases it is unclear what they would do with power, who controls them and even the basic facts of their record and their beliefs. For Willard this is odd as he has been around for decades (and running for President for most of that time)--and yet most of his life, his beliefs, his record and the basics about who he is are off the table. Tim Egan's essay on the page completely captured the hollowness of the man:

This problem of who he is, Romney acknowledged last year, has plagued him ever since he became a public figure.

In focus groups, he’s described as a tin man, a shell, an empty suit, vacuous, a multimillionaire in mom jeans. And that’s from supporters.

At the convention, you can expect to hear high praise for a virtuous, disciplined, loyal person of family and faith. You will surely hear the words “turnaround” and “no apology” — both titles of platitudinous and unread books by Romney — in defense of his business acumen and unshakable view of American exceptionalism.

But I doubt you will hear anything of the real Romney because he is afraid of his own past.

In a few days The GOP/Wingnut noise machine will put on a spectacle carefully crafted to give a focused group tested image of Willard Mitt Romney. Talking points will be circulated and repeated. Visuals will reinforce the message. President Obama and Liberals will be presented as existential threats to the survival of White Men and their America. Romney will be presented as the hero who can save and protect the Nation.

It is all very, very much like the political theater of North Korea: a show put on to sell the figurehead of the elites to the masses. The other story on the page tells of how another son of a political family is being sold to the rubes as the new Dear Leader:

In my recent visit, I saw slogans extolling the new leader everywhere: “Long Live Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong-un!” “Long Live Kim Jong-un, Sun of Military-First Korea!” and more ominously, “Follow Great Leader Kim Jong-un to Final Victory!”

Kim Jong-un has already proven himself to be a much more visible and publicly engaged leader than his more reticent father; he appears a natural politician in the mold of his still-revered grandfather, Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founding leader. The regime is clearly trying to cultivate that image, as if to make the North Korean people forget the famine and other failures of the Kim Jong-il era and relive the hopeful and relatively well-off era of Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994. Even Kim Jong-un’s appearance, including the Mao suit, paunch and short-sided haircut, seems deliberately designed to make him resemble Kim Il-sung when he came to power in the 1940s.

But Kim Jong-un’s public image gives little indication of the political and economic policies his regime will follow.

North Korea is a State ruled by a single Party on behalf of a group of elites. The Wingnut vision for America is similar: a single Party in control of everything to benefit the elites.

On Monday the spin-masters of the GOP will try to re-brand and sell Mitt Romney to the rubes. It will be a  spectacle. At its core the effort will be very similar to the one that the elites of North Korea are using to sell their figurehead. They'll bring in the wife to soften his image and present the cipher as a fun-loving guy. They'll inflate any international travel as proof that their cipher is a master of international affairs. And of course both North Korea and the GOP will rely on promotional videos to sell their front man.

Now wingnuts will be outraged at the idea that they are relying on the same propaganda tactics to sell Mitt the Unknowable as North Korea is using to sell Kim Jong-un, but that is the way of it. Their nominee is a hollow man who's only belief is that his birth has entitled him to lead the Nation. The elites in North Korea have a similar problem. And in both cases the more you know about the leader, the Party backing them and the elites pulling the strings, the more you know that they suck. And so, you have to invent a myth for your front man and stage manage it through controlled events and spectacles.

Next week, Mitt will have his in Florida. Expect a lot of talking points and choreographed bullshit to obscure the emptiness of Romney's beliefs and policies. The wingnuts will be celebrating that their nominated rubber stamp will follow orders, but that is all you would learn from watching the GOP Convention.

Except, you would also heard about the enemy. In fact, I suspect that most of everything said at the Convention will be some form of fear mongering about that black guy in the White House. If any of them were honest, they would drop the code talking and just called the President a nigger. But they're not honest, so we can expect more birther jokes, welfare code talks and some mixture of dog-whistles that Obama is a weak negro and others to suggest that he is a gangster scary nigga--sometimes within the same sentence. All of it will be tribal and all of it aimed at goosing white anxiety about race. It has to be this way--without a big White Fear vote, Mitt is toast. They cannot sell Romney without also selling an enemy--a boogyman who is responsible for all the reasons that their policies always fail.

For Romney, the GOP and wingnuts that enemy is Barack Obama, but he is only the target of the moment. For the wingers the enemy is always some group of "others" (Gays, women with their lady parts, immigrants, young people, old people, brown people, Democrats, Liberals, workers, etc.) guilty of demanding that the elites share power. And they always present anybody who thinks that the elites should share power as an existential threat. Much of the GOP convention will be a passion play about how these groups want to destroy the White way of life. It is a show to fool the gullible, the fearful and the hateful.

This need for an external enemy is something that the GOP shares with North Korea. For Kim Jong-um and the elites pulling his strings, their existential enemy is America, capitalism, South Korea and the West. This is the boogyman they sell to their people to justify the massive failure of their policies.

While Romney holds his coming out celebration in Florida, Kim Jong-un will travel to Iran to attend his first International Conference and give a speech. Both men and the elites behind them will be presenting themselves to the world at the same time. Both will rely on spin, talking points and stage craft to say nothing while looking like a "leader". The world will learn nothing from either man at either event. Both will talk about the great "other" they face--the great enemy of their gang of elites.

For Romney it will be President Obama, his policies and everything he believes. For Kim Jong-un it will be the same enemy.



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Comment Preferences

  •  That's a really funny juxtaposition. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Empower Ink, Jane Lew, translatorpro, Smoh

    And you are right that there are some odd parallels.  Although Kim Jong-Il never released 12 years of his tax returns....

    I should say that this diary would be worthwhile if only for the phrase "millionaire in mom jeans."

    "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our values." Barack Hussein Obama

    by jem6x on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:20:08 PM PDT

  •  The shepherd needs the wolf to keep the (4+ / 0-)

    sheep in the pen.

    But, I don't think the elite sharing power is the point.  Not only do the self-proclaimed elite not know how to share, power, to be felt, has to hurt and so is inimical to the liberal from the start.
    Conservatives assume liberals want their power.  We don't. They are clinging to something most people don't even want and that's why they're getting desperate, inflicting more and more hurt to make the country cry "uncle."
    It's not going to happen. The majority have finally figured out that bullies cannot be placated. Bullies cannot be allowed to lead because they don't know where they are going. Norquist is looking for a hand to hold a pen, not a bloody sword.

    But, the essential difference between liberals and conservatives can be seen in their response to someone else's success.  Liberals feel pleasure; conservatives feel envy. Then frustration turns envy to wrath and they're off to the seven deadly sins.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:30:54 PM PDT

    •  I was watching an episode of West Wing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      earlier, and President Bartlett was facing another hopson's choice, where everyone and his dog wanted him to attack everyone and not Israel.  I said to my wife, who in the world would want that job?
      I understand why Obama is there, but WTF is romney running?  Other then to cut his taxes, I mean.  And you couldn't pay me that much and have me take the job, I mean really, does he even consider what a heap of crap that job holds almost every day?

      •  He's in it for power, the ability to inflict hurt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        translatorpro, emmasnacker

        with impunity.  Leading the attack on the prep-school boy, dressing up like a cop to scare some couples, threatening to have some kids smoking on the beach arrested, putting the dog in a cage -- they're all behaviors aimed at depriving someone or something of rights. Shutting down factories, looting pension funds, diverting dollars to the Caymans are all part of the same pattern, except money makes the deprivation vicarious.  Doing it for the money is the secular equivalent of doing it for God.  Sacrificing troops for the country is a reenactment of Jesus of Nazareth's, except His was a self-sacrifice while our troops, for the most part, are being dispatched for a hopeless cause. It's no wonder that one a day is committing suicide.

        Why does Willard want power?  Just look at him.  He's a dufus.  He's powerless.  So, of course, he wants to fill the void. At least Dubya came to realize that the White House is a cage in which obligations have to be met from morning to night.
        Willard would not like being President.  He would find it terribly frustrating and that would make him dangerous, like a rampaging bull elephant.

        Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

        by hannah on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:43:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think the core motivation may even be more (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hannah, Karl Rover, Gustogirl, pvasileff

          insidious than that:

          "I truly want Mitt to fulfill his destiny, and for that to happen, he’s got to do politics,” Ann told the Los Angeles Times on the eve of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. In his book “Turnaround,” Mitt says he initially resisted the offer to take over the games until Ann changed his mind. “There’s no one else who can do it,” he remembers her saying. Last year, when Mitt entered the presidential race, Ann told Parade, “I felt the country needed him … This is now Mitt’s time.” In a March radio interview, Ann declared, “He’s the only one who can save America.
          I've been seeing more hints of some kind of "destiny" that Mitt supposedly has to fulfil, based on some Mormon prophecy. How true that is, I have no idea, but the thought of someone running for POTUS based on religious mumbo-jumbo is very disturbing to me. That, in my humble opinion, is far creepier than running to help your friends get richer.

          „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

          by translatorpro on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 04:45:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This silly meme (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pvasileff, translatorpro

            that a person's religion should not be a political consideration is out the window on this one.

            Mitt Romney is a straw man.  It is the Mormon Church that is running for president.

            The Mormon Church is THE model of Authoritarianism at work in America.

            Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

            by Gustogirl on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:06:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Powerful powerful ending - almost took my breath (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pvasileff, emmasnacker

    Away.  Thanks for writing this up.  It IS a wonderful juxtaposition.

    Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

    by Smoh on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:51:43 AM PDT

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