Yesterday the Wall Street Journal inaugurated their glossy magazine, which is all you can expect and more (including that ad with the ever-sexy septuagenarian), and their cover story was resident White House publicist – official title “social secretary” – Desirée Rogers.
Rogers sees her job as selling brand Obama:
“We have the best brand on earth: the Obama brand,” Rogers says. “Our possibilities are endless.” Like all brands, the Obama brand has a “crown jewel,” she explains, and that crown jewel is the White House. Think of it like Unilever’s Dove, a consumer brand Rogers says she admires. Having started with a simple bar of soap, the utilitarian Dove brand now boasts such grooming products as shampoo, body wash and deodorant. In 2004, its “Campaign for Real Beauty” featuring plus-size and older models generated a flood of publicity, boosted sales and made the brand seem approachable and public-service-oriented. “You basically need to understand what your customers want and need,” Rogers says.
Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream, says Michael Sitrick, chairman of Sitrick and Company, a public-relations firm that specializes in handling sensitive situations and has worked with billionaire Ron Burkle and socialite Paris Hilton. Rogers and the rest of the Obama team have an idyllic American family to work with “straight out of a 1950s sitcom,” Sitrick says. They “really get it from a public-relations perspective.” Not since Jacqueline Kennedy redecorated the White House and used it as a showcase for arts and culture, which helped create the Camelot mystique, has a first family so captured popular fascination, first-lady historian Myra Gutin says.
Whether this approach has much to do with the dignity of the office remains in question, but clearly it has to do with unmitigated propaganda, and will have a heck of a lot to do with the buckets of money to be made by the Obamas after Pres. Obama leaves office, and by his staff members after they leave their jobs in this administration.
Not that there aren’t jobs available as it is. As you all know, the Treasury and Health Departments are still trying to fill dozens of vacancies, a curious state of things considering the real economic crisis, and the pseudo-crisis with swine flu.
But the focus is on the Obama brand. Priorities. After all, when you know that you are above the prosaic rules of etiquette and protocol and that you are the one who will set the tone, the trend and the form of all events that you grace by your exalted presence, you got to have someone to bring across that message.
Rogers is doing a heckuva job. Reuters says that Barack Obama is revelling in presidential power and influence unseen in Washington for decades.
All the more timely to take up Roger Kimball’s proposal for a new position at the White House:
Since we’re rolling back the clock on quaint traditions like democracy and free speech, I’d like to suggest we consider resuscitating an office that flourished in the age of monarchs. I mean the office of court jester.
Why a court jester, pray tell? Haven’t we got enough clowns in Washington as it is?
Ah, but it’s not how many, it’s what kind of clown:
In the age of monarchy, indulging in free speech, especially on matters political, was a dangerous pastime. Kings, emperors, and others who proclaim that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” who actually believe that, with their ascension “the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal” — such folks have a serious problem with hubris, not to say narcissism.
As anyone who can pronounce “Aeschylus” knows, hubris is followed regularly by nemesis, and it was to forestall that eventuality that monarchs of yore instituted the office of the court jester or fool. Here was one person allowed to speak his mind, to impart unpalatable truths to the sovereign. Queen Elizabeth (the first, not the one hugged by Michelle Obama) even rebuked her fool for not being sufficiently candid. (It was a narrow path, though, that the fool had to walk: Lear threatened to whip his fool for speaking free.)
The White House has not yet gotten around to announcing the position. That’s hardly surprising. They’ve been awfully busy these last 100 days and more, what with all that “spreading the wealth around,” taking over the auto industry, demonizing conservatives, setting terrorists free, plotting to nationalize health care, conspiring to impoverish us all not just by raising taxes but also through the ruinous cap-and-trade proposal that will cost the average household about $3,100 a year.
Roger has an excellent idea; just imagine the “endless possibilities” for that brand.
The Husband, upon reading this post,
“When you said you posted on a Court Jester for the Obama administration, I thought the post was on Joe Biden.”