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Category Archives: Obama
“I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing. And I feel for you, because I’ve been there. A few times. In fact, one of them was a bit of a nail-biter. But see, when the guy that you disagree with gets elected, he’s probably going to do things you disagree with. He could cut taxes on the wealthy, remove government’s oversight capability, invade a country that you thought should not be invaded, but that’s not tyranny. That’s democracy. See, now you’re in the minority. It’s supposed to taste like a shit taco.”
from John Stewart.
First he supposedly bowed to the Saudi king. Now, you tell me, but it sure looks like he bowed to Mexican President Calderon’s golden retriever. I’m probably a bad one to ask what the ultimate meaning of this is and if it means America is weak, as I bow to my golden retriever too.
From President Obama’s speech to the CIA earlier today. “We are on the better side of history.”
Zadie Smith, a wonderful writer whose work I adore, tries to define the transcendent character of Barack Obama. It’s long but well worth reading for both her words and her message. Here’s a short excerpt.
It gives me a strange sensation to turn from Shaw’s melancholy Pygmalion story to another, infinitely more hopeful version, written by the new president of the United States of America. Of course, his ear isn’t half bad either. In Dreams from My Father, the new president displays an enviable facility for dialogue, and puts it to good use, animating a cast every bit as various as the one James Baldwin—an obvious influence—conjured for his own many-voiced novel Another Country. Obama can do young Jewish male, black old lady from the South Side, white woman from Kansas, Kenyan elders, white Harvard nerds, black Columbia nerds, activist women, churchmen, security guards, bank tellers, and even a British man called Mr. Wilkerson, who on a starry night on safari says credibly British things like: “I believe that’s the Milky Way.” This new president doesn’t just speak for his people. He can speak them. It is a disorienting talent in a president; we’re so unused to it. I have to pinch myself to remember who wrote the following well-observed scene, seemingly plucked from a comic novel:
“Man, I’m not going to any more of these bullshit Punahou parties.”
“Yeah, that’s what you said the last time….”
“I mean it this time…. These girls are A-1, USDA-certified racists. All of ’em. White girls. Asian girls—shoot, these Asians worse than the whites. Think we got a disease or something.”
“Maybe they’re looking at that big butt of yours. Man, I thought you were in training.”
“Get your hands out of my fries. You ain’t my bitch, nigger…buy your own damn fries. Now what was I talking about?”
“Just ’cause a girl don’t go out with you doesn’t make her a racist.”
This is the voice of Obama at seventeen, as remembered by Obama. He’s still recognizably Obama; he already seeks to unpack and complicate apparently obvious things (“Just ’cause a girl don’t go out with you doesn’t make her a racist”); he’s already gently cynical about the impassioned dogma of other people (“Yeah, that’s what you said the last time”). And he has a sense of humor (“Maybe they’re looking at that big butt of yours”). Only the voice is different: he has made almost as large a leap as Eliza Doolittle. The conclusions Obama draws from his own Pygmalion experience, however, are subtler than Shaw’s. The tale he tells is not the old tragedy of gaining a new, false voice at the expense of a true one. The tale he tells is all about addition. His is the story of a genuinely many-voiced man. If it has a moral it is that each man must be true to his selves, plural.