Obama’s Modus Operandi: NYT Coverage of Coen Brothers Clean Coal Ad

obama speaking campaigning presidential election 2008 crows change we can believe in sign finger point placard photo

Last week, I jumped on a conference call (transcript here) put together around the launch of a satirical clean coal television directed by the Coen Brothers. Over at Treehugger, I’ve got our Top 10 Countdown of the media coverage resulting from the spot’s premiere. Less than estimably, The New York Times kicks off the list. What follows is the extended commentary.

#10. NYT – Green Inc.: The Coen Brothers Do Clean Coal

The Times in venerable (think “dysfunctional”) journalistic tradition (think “half unconscious”) snipes at Obama in its opening sentence salvo of its post with “Even as President Obama continues to push for development of “clean coal” The Times, as are many of us who have the jitters about the planet’s energy future, fails to recognize the genius of the Obama M.O. A modus operendi demonstrated countless times throughout the campaign as well as during the debates:

1) This is a multi-cultural man which means, vis-a-vis a still in play centuries-old construction of whiteness, he is a black man. My observation of personal colleagues as well as any number of successful African-American intellectuals / leaders bears out that rule one on that path to success is to come off as non-threatening. Think MLK or Malcomn X in their suits and ties.

2) The second thing Obama does is to build bridges. If the bridge holds, so much the better, progress is made. However, more interesting is the other half refuses to go in fifty-fifty on the metaphorical bridge construction project. For example, Obama extend invitations to the GOP which then goes and shoots itself in the collective foot with cockamamy rejections. It would be tempting to attribute this GOPers having been duped by the Cool-O, but understand that Obama’s M.O. is to make such overtures genuinely, in the hope of the bridge going forward in the first place. Obama is simply too good a) a politician b) a leader and c) a moral being to “play games.” One can observe glimmers of Obama playing from the depths of his soul: offer the other cheek and then if the horse don’t drink, the egg is on his face not yours — it really is as simple as mixing clichés crudely. There’s nothing intellectual Harvard in this, rather this choice emerges from the simplest human wisdom that we ALL possess the capacity to achieve; however until we choose to strive honestly, rationally and with conviction our own actions will be our undoing. So when the opposing party fails themselves in response to generosity, the door is open for number three…

3) He gets what he wants. Obama’s way of going in the for the kill and winning is, to say the least, nothing short of stealthy. Ninja has teed-up prey now to be called out not only as a non-bridge builder, but worse, as a bridge-burner. As flames rise, Obama once again extends a hand to the now vanquished, bringing them firmly to the terrain he has presently won from them, encouraging the collective work to continue.

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