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Omar For President

In a mildly radical departure from traditional political values, I’ve decided to endorse Omar Little from “The Wire” as my choice for presidential candidate. Let me be clear about this: I’m not endorsing Michael Kenneth Williams, the actor who portrays Omar on the show, but rather the character himself. There will be those who point to the inherent dangers of supporting an openly fictional character, but who among current candidates isn’t playing a role to one extent or another? The simple gesture of placing Omar on the ballot acknowledges this from the outset and sends a message to the field: no more pretense – we’re calling this game like it is.

On the surface Omar might not seem an appropriate candidate. There will be those who have difficulty seeing past his current occupation as a shotgun wielding, duster wearing, Honey Nut Cheerio eating, Farmer in the Dell whistling stickup artist. But again, I think once the public at large decides to collectively see through the pretense they’ll realize that he’s just Bush with a more convincing swagger; Cheney with better aim. In fact, supporting an Omar presidency works well from both ends of the political spectrum. He speaks to the core ideals of the right, once you get past his sense for operating outside the constraints of “traditional law.” He believes in being polite and uttering nary a single curse word, even under the most trying circumstances. And he possesses an innate sense for the first law of finance and power: there’s no such thing as clean money, and there’s nothing quite so useless as an unloaded gun. Speaking to the left, he allows for taking the newly favored “progressive” label and running with it. He’s unapologetically gay, shattering ineffectively swishy stereotypes, and – as offensive as the argument was from its origin – he’ll never be subjected to the abuse Obama has suffered for not being “black enough.”

I was discussing this idea for a late stage grass roots campaign while walking to dinner with some friends last week through my rapidly-gentrifying yet cosmetically urban (and traditionally Italian) Brooklyn neighborhood. I consciously kept my voice lowered, realizing that such broadened cerebration must be guarded in its nascent stage. Suddenly, a voice came from behind us. “Excuse me,” this young white guy interrupted, walking in the direction of the newly appreciating low rises adjacent to the BQE. “Did you just say ‘Omar for President?‘” I began to explain and qualify, starting with my premise being based on the idea that the character, and not the actor, be nominated. He cut me off before I could finish. “That’s awesome,” he said. (1/22/08)

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