Barack Obama has been compared to many political figures from the past including John F. Kennedy. The latest comparison (following an incident at a local support office in Houston) to Che Guevara, while absurd, raises the question of how important myth and icons have become in American politics.
Mainstream and independent media, including thousands of independent blogs have focused on the fact that the Obama campaign failed to denounce the Che Guevara Cuban flag incident. The focus should have been in his policies. This incident could have provided a platform to better understand Obama’s policy towards Cuba.
However the focus has turned into historical parody, reinforcing the Barack Obama icon – an icon, which like Che Guevara is laced with a combination of myth and truth, future tense and past tense, hope for change and thirst for things past.
How much do we really know about Barack Obama (beyond his policies) other than him being an icon of hope? How much do we really know about Che Guevara (beyond his beliefs) other than him being an icon for revolution? How much do we know about John McCain (beyond his policies) other than him being an icon of heroism?
Barack Obama and Che Guevara share little in common, other than the fact their beliefs and substance have been overshadowed by a need to construct and elevate icons. The image featured on this post is yet another example of this phenomenon.
While marketing may be the factory that manufactures and helps makes sense of politics, we should be careful not everything of great promise gets printed onto a t-shirt.