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.

8 comments:

Betty and Bimbo said...

p.s. I'm watching MSNBC now and I love how no one --absolutely no one except the baffled Republican commentators -- can contain themselves. Chris Matthews is freaking jumping out of his skin.

amanda said...

This post really hit home! Thank you!

venus infers said...

yeah, he's big in europe. -v.

venus infers said...

i mean, honestly, did he really have to do that kennedy thing? there was a completely eerie marcus aurelius addressing the barbarians dynamic going on that really makes me wonder about the type of people that are propping him up. and, to be frank, this whole leftie fantasy of being able to hold him accountable once in power...

i am the first to acknowledge that he is an attractive candidate, based on the 'sameness to me' factor. but background and accountability or progressive, anti-imperialist, redistributive politics are very, very different things.

Betty and Bimbo said...

I agree with you. Let me clarify to say that I am not planning on "holding him accountable" to his centrist-moderate platform. Rather, I believe that say, in 5 years, if the Left can build itself into something from a million local levels and spread, and become something real and organized, I believe he will have to answer to that Left in some way
This is where my hope lies. FDR was a super establishment guy who was similarly forced to answer to an organized Left.

If Obama excites me as a candidate for any reason, it's because he represents an organized and tightly-run Democratic campaign -- which is kind of amazing following the unbelievably lame and toothless efforts of Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

Betty and Bimbo said...

I also hope that his attractive personality and background (that you allude to, venus) will draw more people into politics in general, and help to fuel this increased progressive local-level engagement I hope for. There have already been some signs that this is happening, though how sustainable it will be is still anyone's guess.

venus infers said...

indeed, in the obama primary (because that's what it was) in nc we saw the highest voter registration and turnout ever, which is in and unto itself amazing namely because it means that there is a real potential mobilization of a progressive-left voting base that has traditionally been disenfranchised, either by coercion, or by irrelevance...

there is a number of things that this enables-- for instance the potential of getting rid of embarrassments like the two conservative republican senators of an almost 100 percent democratic state.

venus infers said...

there is of course, the truly vexing question of the two conservative democrats that would replace them... >_<