Almost Final Word on Obama Seal Nonsense

I honestly haven’t had a lot of interest in doing much election commentary here at the Bad Idea Blog, but there’s always just so much stupid flying around that it’s often hard to help myself.

Bland... but outrageous apparentlyTake this latest manufactroversy: the Obama campaign has been sporting a new logo, which sports elements of the standard U.S. Seal designs.

Can you guess what happens next? Of course: people immediately declare that it’s a bastardization of the Presidential Seal. And that particular Seal, something no one gave any thought to two days ago, has suddenly become one of the most sacred and inviolable images in the national consciousness. Holy Arrogance Batman! cries one anti-Obama website.

Even if it was actually a version of the Presidential Seal, I’d still be at a loss as to exactly how it would be arrogant: campaigns remix all sorts of patriotic iconography for their materials all the time. But, in fact, it’s not even that.

SighFolks, if you want to style yourself the proud defenders of the honor of U.S. icons from the petty purposes of politicians, perhaps you should learn more about them first. The symbolic elements on Obama’s logo are not, in fact, unique to the Presidential Seal. They are, in fact, known as the Great Seal of the United States, and it’s found all over the place. It’s on various Congressional Seals as well, as well as various government agencies. It’s stamped on most official U.S. documents. (And no, desperate defenders, a non-forged non-reproduction of similar elements is not a violation of federal law, as some have claimed)

And it gets even more ridiculous. The Drudgereport has headlined the logo as “Obama Changes U.S. Presidential Seal…” Can you get any more ridiculous than that (yes, you can, for instance: John A. Davison)? Well, sorry to deflate the hew and cry, but the Presidential Seal has not been “changed.” It’s still exactly the same as it was as far as I can tell.

This is just yet another example of political pareidolia: people hyped up on campaign crack who inevitably fit every single news tidbit into the same caricature of already chosen candidate of their ire.

You see, the logo isn’t, can’t possibly be just some of the standard sorts of US iconography used and remixed a million different ways on lots of campaign materials. It couldn’t even just be a seal similar to the Great Seal. No no: it’s THE Presidential seal, and bastardized by Obama’s fabled ego.

From the way these people go on about it, it’s as if they imagined Obama personally stole an official seal a trip to the White House, cut it up with scissors, scrawled all over it, and spray-painted it blue.

Folks, that’s not even remotely how campaigns work. Here’s pretty much the spectrum of where these sorts of things usually come from:

1) Whatever random Democratic design firm Obama’s campaign employs is tasked with coming up with a new logo. They, a bunch of random folks in a boardroom with a whiteboard, sit around brainstorming, pump out a few clunkers, and campaign people eventually reject most of them, liking bits of others. At the end of the process, they end up with the one everyone hates the least. And we’re off.

2) The campaign goes more grassroots: it needs a new logo, and fast, and HQ scrambles. Some random teenager “hey, I’m pretty good with photoshop!” and whips this up. The campaign, or even the candidate pats them on the head, and says “uh, thanks kid!” And we’re off.

But of course, none of that sort of inoffensive everyday nonsense fits easily into the “arrogance” narrative.

I can’t wait until this election is over, and the collective IQ of the country shoots back up to normal.

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6 Responses to Almost Final Word on Obama Seal Nonsense

  1. tofer david says:

    my could you defend obama a little more?

    i mean come on how can you not see in it any arrogance?

    why does obama need a seal on his podium when he speaks? what do you think his point was in having the seal there? or should i say his handlers? their intended purpose is what people have a problem with. obama is not even the nominee yet, he is presumptive nominee. he isn’t the president. he is a man. he is a senator. he doesn’t need nor is owed a seal. its arrogant. get over it.

    and you’ll probably never see him use it again. that alone will say enough.

  2. Bad says:

    my could you defend obama a little more?

    That’s the problem in a nutshell. You think it’s about defending Obama. But for me, it’s about defending some semblance of sanity in our discussion of politics.

    i mean come on how can you not see in it any arrogance?

    Simple: because I don’t set out to do so from the start. I don’t have a pat little personal psychological profile of Obama, or any other candidate, in my head that I try to fit his every action into. I pretend to know, based on some sort of voodoo ESP power, whether a blue piece of paper implies “arrogance” or not.

    why does obama need a seal on his podium when he speaks

    You’re right. Throughout history, candidates speaking at podiums have never had stylized promotional logos… until Obama. The nerve of that guy! Conspiracy!

    obama is not even the nominee yet, he is presumptive nominee. he isn’t the president. he is a man. he is a senator. he doesn’t need nor is owed a seal. its arrogant. get over it.

    Funny you should mention both that him not being of the office the seal supposedly represents is your problem with it, and that he’s a Senator. Because, as it happens, the unofficial seals of the senate and Congress are the exact same general designs.

    How arrogant of him to use iconography that represents an office he holds in a promotional logo!

    Or maybe you don’t actually care about him holding an office or not, or whether a logo built out of patriotic iconography, a logo that doesn’t say anywhere on it that Obama is already president, or that this seal is a mark of anything other than the campaign, actually says anything one way or another about anything.

    Hey hey, I just heard someone introduce John McCain as “the next president of the United States.” But wait a minute, is that guy a time traveler? How does he presume to know that McCain will win? The nerve of that guy!

    Right?

  3. Every candidate tries to act presidential. Nothing new or threatening about that. The GOP Machine is so incredibly desperate; that’s the only story here. Some people dislike Obama, and many of them haven’t bothered to answer why, so they resort to nonsense like this seal thing. I find people’s endless faith in ANY one political party to be shockingly ignorant given the unconstitutional corruption that both sides demonstrated during the past 8 years. Bush and his followers have crippled much, and the dems haven’t sufficiently countered. This latest telecom immunity/domestic spying bill is the latest example of our systematically broken government.

    All this talk of Seal makes me want to listen to ‘Kiss From A Rose.’ Not really.

  4. Tom says:

    “I can’t wait until this election is over, and the collective IQ of the country shoots back up to normal.”

    You are much more of an optimist that I am.

  5. Keith says:

    Hey, if the guy is so interested in “the message”, why does he do such juvenile stuff which only detracts from whatever message he is trying to convey? I’m telling you, Bush is looking more mature every day! And that, folks, is scary.

  6. […] Me, I’m left saddened and embarrassed for the media commentators who couldn’t resist piling on this story, and the many many people who took this non-issue seriously. […]

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