You couldn't pass a grocery store line this weekend without seeing the picture-perfect smiles of the Obama family. There were Barack Obama's young daughters (whose privacy their parents so sanctimoniously claim to want to protect) flashing their pearly whites on the cover of People magazine. Malia and Sasha competed for attention right next to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's toddler daughter, Shiloh, whose cherubic face was splashed on the cover of another celebrity tabloid. Next to them beamed basket-case starlet Lindsay Lohan and her new lesbian lover -- oh, and that formerly pregnant "man" who just gave birth to a baby girl.
The Obamas blended seamlessly into this Hollyweird pop culture galaxy.
The spread in People, which earlier this year fawned over a photo of the bare-chested Obama in his swimsuit, was supposed to be an "exclusive" first and last look at life at home with the Obamas. Knowing what we know about the Obama we know now, it probably won't be the last.
They've hawked the kids to TV gossip show "Access Hollywood," blabbed about their romance to Us Weekly magazine, and plopped Michelle O -- the purported "civilian" whom the Obamessiah declares immune from public criticism -- in front of the cameras to schmooze effortlessly for "The Colbert Report" and "The View" demographics. They believe their two-faced tabloid strategy (show their true elitist colors behind closed doors, but play the Every Family for the Obamedia sycophants) is working. Given our dumbed-down, celebrity-obsessed culture, they are probably right.
Who cares about Barack's perilous lack of foreign policy experience, his longtime associations with left-wing radicals and domestic terrorists, and his business dealings with Chicago corruptocrats? People magazine brings you the scoop on what really matters in this critical presidential campaign: Michelle hula-hoops with her daughters. They're just like you and me! The kids have slumber parties. They're just like you and me! Barack does laundry, but he doesn't fold it. They're just like you and me! The kids get small allowances. They're just like you and me! The Obamas wear normal clothes while doing normal things.
THEY'RE JUST LIKE YOU AND ME!
There's a popular feature in most gossip magazines that rates celebrities as "normal" vs. "not normal" or "diva" vs. "down to earth." This is supposed to humanize the stars and make celebrity followers feel better about their empty idol worship. Paparazzi catch "normal" famous people in candid moments -- taking out the trash, scarfing down hot dogs, goofing around with their kids at the playground -- and magazine editors compare them to photos of "not normal" celebs in elitist repose -- walking with their umbrella carriers, surrounded by seven bodyguards and three nannies, boarding their Gulfstreams, etc.
The fatal flaw in the tabloids' Obamas-as-next-door-neighbors propaganda, of course, is that unlike the candid shots of normal, down-to-earth celebrities without makeup or entourages, the photos of the Obamas in "normal" mode are all carefully choreographed fauxtographs.
While Snobama complains about "bitter" rural voters who "cling" to their guns and religion and moans about the price of arugula in his candid unscripted moments, JustLikeYou&Me Michelle cunningly brags about buying her sundresses at discount retailer H&M and, with studied casualness, tells reporters that she doesn't mind if the kids' beds aren't perfectly made. Uh-huh.
The Obamas do everything but pick their noses for the cameras to mimic Real People bona fides. The Obamedia stenographers in the celebrity press -- and the mainstream press, for that matter -- eat it up. And so do the American people. Former Star magazine editor Bonnie Fuller, citing a poll showing that more adults would like to invite Obama to a summer barbecue than McCain, hailed the Obamas in Advertising Age as the "Brangelina of the political world."
Obama and his political paparazzi are banking on people's stupidity and his cult of personality to carry him to the White House. Unfortunately, the odds are in his favor. Just try talking to one of the millions of people with their noses buried in People or Us about Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright or Bill Ayers, his flip-flops on the Iraq war surge and his reckless naivete regarding Iran, and you'll see what I mean.
The exclamation of a journalist at the UNITY minority news media gathering this weekend sums up the star-struck reverence that fuels the Obama phenomenon: "He touched me!" And yet, he's sooo "down to earth."
Hurtling toward a government of the stupid, by the stupid, for the stupid we go.