Sadly, what you’re looking at is not a Photoshopped image. Indeed, this is the actual Obama Coney Island restaurant, located at 3919 Clio Road; Flint, Michigan. Where to begin?
Undoubtedly, the evening of November 4 represented the beginning of the historic presidential stint of Barack Obama. At that same time, I was sure it would also signify the end of the commercialization of his election.
I was mistaken.
From apparel to commemorative coins (limited edition, of course), to plates, to haircuts; Obama merchandise has become a regular cottage industry. Even my dear mother – bless her heart – is trying to get in the act by selling framed photos of our good President-Elect and his wife. So I suppose it was only a matter of time that an Obama-theme restaurant would open.
There are a few directions I can in with this post. I could discuss how the good President-Elect hasn’t been sworn in yet, but has still been annointed as the solution to the world’s problems. I can mention how his tenure is already off to an arguably sour note with some of his not-so-change oriented cabinet choices. But there appears to be a bigger issue brewing. With the rash of Obama-prenuers and Oba-consumers out there, I’m left to wonder: is our President-Elect becoming the political golden calf?
Most of my black readers (and perhaps some white readers) can attest to seeing numerou prophetic and revolutionary figures in history receiving status as icons. Ghandi, Che Guevara, MLK, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and JFK are among those who have been bestowed with a certain level of nobility and immortalized popularity. But of those who celebrate their lives, how many know more about these figures than what is recorded in history or celebrated through popular culture? How many are familiar with the extent to which these icons were actually excoriated during their lifetimes? How often are these figures’ complexities, beliefs, and shortcomings cited in regular discourse?
Will people offer fair critique of Obama’s performance as President or will they get so caught up in mawkish adoration that performance won’t matter?
We have already seen what happens when an electorate is so into a President that his antics go unchecked. Will it happen again? Now, I’m certainly not comparing Obama’s policies to those of President Bush. But I am comparing the levels of devotion. Don’t be deceived by Bush’s dismal ratings. At one point, he almost three times as popular as he is now. As Obama’s message of “change” is met head on with the realities of Washington, will he be brought to task or will he receive the pardon of all pardons?
As I’ve said numerous times before, the general electorate is politcally out of the loop. I’ve devoted several posts during this political season specifically criticizing the ignorance, close-mindedness, and blind support people freely gave McCain and Palin. But we shouldn’t let many Obama supporters off the hook. Case in point:
[Warning: Explicit Language]
Now, you all know that my teeth are stained from the gallons of Obama Kool Aid I drank during the election. I make no bones about that. But at the same time, how do we keep ourselves from falling victim to the classic demagogy that has come to define politicians since forever? After the coins, t-shirts paintings, and coneys are all bought and paid for, what happens is Obama doesn’t deliver on his end?