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Eyesight to the Blind

I had planned on dropping this election stuff after the results were in last week, but it remains too large to ignore. The country, and much of the free world, would appear to be in the grips of Obama-fever. Granted, it was an historical moment when America put a black guy in the top spot by a substantial margin. What it says about the country can be debated now that the election is over, but as far as the man himself goes, much remains to be seen. He’s intelligent, gives a great speech, and along with his team ran a nearly flawless campaign. But the national and international media has whipped itself into such an adulating love-fest, they can’t seem to distinguish between legitimate news and effusive gushing. Considering the praise bestowed upon this man months before he takes his first breath as President, I have to imagine he’s feeling some pressure. He comes off as a calm individual, but there must be some temptation to walk up to the podium and utter Harvey Keitel’s line as Mr. Wolf in “Pulp Fiction”: Well, let’s not start suckin’ each others’ d*cks quite yet.

You don’t have to be Tony Danza to realize we’re living in troubled times. We’ve got two wars going on and the incoming economic data is generating the cheering effect of a Todd Solondz film. But elevating George Bush to a moronic caricature responsible for all the country’s ills is a far easier task than solving these very real problems.  Obama didn’t even have to demonize Bush – the job had been taken care of well before he got the nomination. All he had to do is what seems to come naturally for him: remain level-headed and not make any serious gaffes. Now he’s got the job and people are already treating him like he’s single-handedly liberated France. My sense is that he’s a cool enough character to understand the premature expectations, and already acknowledged as much in his speech on election night in Chicago’s Grant Park when he expressed pointedly that it wasn’t about “him”.

Obama’s campaign mantra evolved around two vague but powerful concepts: hope and change. The ecstatic mood among his supporters and many non-supporters following the election was a result of the affirmation of hope. Perhaps this country isn’t as racist or single-minded as they’ve made us out to be. Maybe this idea that anything is possible here is still alive. But change – ay, there’s the rub. It probably isn’t quite as easy as putting the right guy in there. Incriminated and held to as much public ridicule as he’s been, George Bush could likely still tell the new President a thing or two about reality versus expectation, and even more pointedly, what to expect if and when the love runs out. It’s a lot to be put on any man’s shoulders, but particularly on one who is both young and setting new precedent by his very appearance. Let’s hope the good will continues in the years to come.

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