You Barack It, You Buy It

Obama ties—and thongs? Please stop the merchandise madness.


The day after America elected a black man president, a bundle of Washington Post newspapers were going for $400 on eBay. The L.A. Times made a cool 600K in Barack Obama merchandise. The ailing newspaper industry briefly got its swagger back when people realized that they couldn’t frame their computer.

Unfortunately, that is not where Obamaphernalia ends. Right now, as I type this essay, I am wearing Obama socks. Knotted at my neck is an Obama tie. I’m wearing Obama underwear, an Obama sweater, Obama flip flops and Obama cuff links. I’m munching on my Obama ‘Os cereal.

OK, so I am not wearing those things, but the point is I could be.

The other point is WTF?

The King family has long been criticized for its gangsterous guarding of MLK’s image.

They sic their legal dogs on anyone who deigns to use Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s image on T-shirts. News media? Fifth-grade civics class? Pay up or they’ll see you in court.

When the family sued to get a cut of the King-Obama merchandise, some of us doubted the family’s claim that it’s not about the money, but rather maintaining the integrity of the brand. No more.

We finally get it. Some suit, somewhere out there, should be protecting the legacy of our first black president from the Obama thong. In fact, his first act as president shouldn’t be to straighten out the war or restart the economy, it should be to get his name off the thong. It should be a bill, and Congress should pass it immediately.

I understand that we are a microwave culture that processes moments in minutes. I was in D.C. when ex-mayor Marion Barry was caught smoking crack, and I was there the next day when everyone and their Uncle Claudell had a “The Bitch Set Me Up” T-shirt.