Thursday, July 24, 2008
Fun Times at Election High
Betty and Bimbo have enjoyed watching Barack Obama be Our President all week while John McCain passive-aggressively complains and continues a generally dunderheaded campaign from his couch (if not from a couch in Kansas). We hear rumors from Europe that the Republicans may ask McCain to step down if things keep going this way. It wouldn't be a half bad idea! Then again, when Betty lived in Chile she read in a magazine that Chelsea Clinton's boyfriend at Stanford dumped her for Ken Starr's daughter, so we take all foreign rumors about American political figures with a truckload of salt.
B&B thought Obama did a great job in Jerusalem. The message he wrote in the book at the Holocaust Memorial was beautiful. "Boilerplate beautiful" is a genre Obama dominates, and I mean no disrespect or snark at all when I say that. A public figure who can repeat and reframe old truths in ways that really capture our attention and make us reconsider them is someone to be treasured; I think also of Hillary Clinton's description of wounded soldiers returning from Iraq at the end of one of the debates, and of course Obama's speech on race.
But watching the images of Obama in Berlin today, Betty (at least) felt both elation and concern. It was of course very exciting - palpable emotion and joy, even through the non-HD television set. The images were nothing less than monumental. Almost throwback. Betty felt nostalgia for a time she never lived through.
The problem that struck Betty, as she watched breathless reporters snap pictures of German teenagers climbing all over each other to snap pictures of Obama, is that we are pinning all our hopes on this guy because he presents a real alternative to the last eight mind-boggling years of George W. Bush (Yes.) and because we like the way it feels to get excited (Yes.) about a totally exceptional individual (Yes.). Who doesn't?!
But the truth is that Obama has already become Presidential in ways both good and bad, and only the good ways have been unexpected, which is why they inspire so much joy in nearly everyone who comes across him. As for the bad ways, Betty now realizes that we can all be disappointed in Obama for letting us down and being manipulative and craven and saying the safe things, or we can do the work ourselves that will gather the people power and the momentum and votes to pressure him when he IS Our President, and push him leftward. I really think the latter is the only choice we have. I am done complaining about Obama's rightward drift. I am ready to take up the slack.
Now to figure out what that entails.
We'd love to hear other peoples' impressions of Obama's Tour.