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Arrogance squared: Obama and Apollo
Posted By Phil Elmore On 10/26/2011 @ 4:09 pm In Commentary | Comments Disabled
“Forgive me, my old friends,” Apollo says, speaking the words to the empty sky. “Take me. Take me.” He fades from sight on the wind, joining a pantheon of creatures whose time has passed. He has destroyed any regard humans might have held for him – at least, those few humans who are present during his last, worst missteps. They will not remember him as a god. They will remember him as an angry, petulant authoritarian who tried to force weaker beings to love him.
The story is told in an episode of the original “Star Trek” series. Capt. Kirk and his landing party encounter a powerful alien who is the last remnant of the Greek gods. The episode is called “Who Mourns for Adonais?” and is among the more abstract of the series’ second season.
“There’s a funny kind of ego struggle that seems to be going on,” writes Michelle Erica Green in analyzing the episode. “[Kirk exhibits] a refusal to accept that anyone or anything could have such control over his destiny.” Refusing that control, throwing off the yoke of that oppression, is as much about the individual’s yearning for freedom as it is the acknowledgment that a mistake has been made.
On “Star Trek,” the crew realizes it is a mistake to see the alien Apollo as a god; he is simply a being with access to great power, capable of wielding great force. What gives Apollo away from the outset is his greedy, domineering attitude – his belief that he is entitled to the blind worship and loyalty of those he presumes to order about.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings learned something similar recently. The word is that the video streaming and mail-order rental site has been hemorrhaging subscribers – to the tune of 810,000, down to 23.8 million from 24.6 million in the previous quarter. Greg Sandoval, writing for CNET, predicts the next quarter will see a net loss for the company.
These losses are the direct result of pricing and option plan changes that increased costs and decreased user-friendliness for Netflix customers. Told they would have to pay nearly double for both online streaming and DVDs by mail – and that they would have to start using a separate site for mail-order DVDs – outraged customers began voting with their feet … and their wallets.
“I slid into arrogance,” Sandoval quotes Hastings as saying. “[The changes we implemented] became the symbol of Netflix not listening.”
This admission is important. It underscores what happens when a popular, powerful entity – in this case, Netflix – presumes to dictate to its customers what they will want and what they will like. To make a mistake like this causes great damage to the powerful interest’s credibility. To arrogantly insist on the validity of the error digs the hole deeper. To subsequently admit the mistake is almost worse, for at that point, neither your contrition nor your promises to improve will re-illusion the disillusioned masses previously held in your thrall.
The business world is littered with such mistakes. Old Coke became New Coke became Classic Coke, and now if you want Coke with real sugar in it you’ve got to pay premium prices for soda bottled in Mexico. Ford created a hideous car, the Edsel, and then promoted it like crazy, insisting that the consumers who thought it ugly would buy it and like it anyway. Quaker purchased the runaway hit Snapple for $1.7 billion, screwed up its marketing and distribution, and sold the company at a tremendous loss (just 300 million). The list goes on.
All of these were mistakes driven, arguably, by arrogance. Whether a corporation dictating to its customers or a politician ordering his constituents, arrogance is not a long-term survival strategy. Customers, consumers and voters inevitably resent being told what they’ll do, what they’ll accept and what they’ll like (or else) … and that resentment always becomes the realization that a mistake has been made.
Mistakes, once acknowledged, beg to be corrected.
Like Apollo, Barack Hussein Obama appeared before us, early in his path to power, before Greek columns that presaged his hubris. Nose in the air, contempt on his face, Obama and his fellow travelers have done nothing but reinforce their peculiar – and brittle – autocratic attitudes. Foreshadowing the sense of hypocritical entitlement that would mark her tenure as first lady, Michelle Obama – who adores eating junk food and spending taxpayer money on vacations while lecturing Americans on what to eat and how to live – told us that she had never been proud of the United States. (That was, of course, until her husband Barack sat in the catbird seat of political power.)
Much more recently, both Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have snarled at reporters who had the temerity to lob something other than softball questions at their beneficent masters. Obama had nothing but sneering contempt for Ed Henry, when Henry dared to quote candidate Mitt Romney’s criticism. Joe Biden went so far as to demand an investigation of Human Events’ Jason Mattera this week – for having the audacity to press Biden on his absurd threats of rape should Obama’s “jobs bill” not pass.
All this happens as Obama prepares to make good on his threats to work around Congress in making law “administratively,” forcing his policies down our throats regardless of our protests. Meanwhile, his supporters cheer these dictatorial moves, for they abhor their fellow citizens’ rude insistence on disagreeing with Glorious Leader Obama.
Underlying every action and every despotic proclamation by Obama and his ilk is their unspoken outrage: How DARE you? How dare you disagree? How dare you resist? How dare you criticize? Don’t you know what is good for you?
In their arrogance, Obama and the libs see themselves as gods and the voters as supplicants. Our only chance to shed the yoke of Obama’s oppression is to hope the voters realize the mistake that has been made – and that Obama fades to nothing on the winds of his many failures.
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