To New Walks!
November 6, 2008 1 Comment
I know what you mean about the speech. The media hangover from such a long election coverage has ended up a bit off, which is why I call it a hangover; it’s functioning and can go to work, but it’s coming across a bit grumpy. Yesterday there was the great hatefest on Sarah Palin, and Fox News’ sudden lashing of her character and intelligence. The real story in that story must be that a campaign that three days ago was telling us that this woman was so awesome that she should boldly lead us into the great future, was now telling us she was hateful and blecky and really gross. Like a boy trying to sleep with you again after dumping you for somebody else. Bad Fox! Bad!
And then today I was listening to BBC’s The World, and they were going on about how America will inherently be disappointed with Obama because he has such a blank slate of euphoria going for him at the moment. I heard several smaller stories and read editorials with the same thesis: we should get ready to not love so much. We have only been allowed to be in the throes of our ecstasy for about 72 hours. Can’t we have that at least? Teenage love is over-the-top. It doesn’t help if parents poo-poo the whole thing by calling it a “stage.” We have earned a small window of “hallelujah!” Maybe if we have enough of that we will get enough good feeling unlocked to make real change happen…instead of going back inside and never organizing again. I want the media to stop telling us to not feel good so that they can sound hardhitting. Let the guy actually go ahead and disappoint us, and then let’s talk about that.
I was watching Democracy Now! for Obama’s speech, and it was wonderful seeing the thrill of the crowd and the newscasters waiting for a glimpse of Obama, and then the speech. The anticipation made me understand what peasants must have felt like when the infant heir to the throne was shown to them from the castle balcony: it’s a glorious and sweaty moment of “we are going to make it, and that, right there, is how!” And better because we aren’t serfs, and it was our votes actually disproving the little voices in many a head suggesting that our democracy wasn’t really a democracy but a myth printed in books. And, I was teaching a speech class the next day, and ready for a rocking, inspiring, amazing speech that would make me run outside and join some government institution in order to make this country a better place that I was part of.
The speech, instead, was a speech. A really good speech, but if you weren’t paying attention, it mostly sounded like a basic political speech (to me). I have read other blogs that talk about how it will be studied for years to come, and how it is a mark of literature. I don’t think it was. I think it did the job necessary, and was amazingly compassionate and firm and strong (which are things I expect in a presidential speech, but realize we rarely get all in one), but it wasn’t the soul lifter. The election was that. The crowd was that. The celebration was that. I’m guessing we are going to get the soul lifter speech on Inaugeration Day. I am expecting to have my knees buckle because that speech is going to get the entire nation in its tender parts. The speech wasn’t a let down, and it was, in many ways, perfect, but it didn’t spike my high. It also reminded me that we had, after all, elected a politician.
Maybe this is what the news is working so hard to tell us. That Obama is a politician, and not the legend that he has been marketed as. But on the other hand, there is so much good that he represents, not in him, but in us. That we voted by a majority somebody that was against the war, that is biracial, that has a round understanding of world cultures and religions, that doesn’t speak hatefully, stupidly or in an obfuscating manner. Yes, he has already hired a Chief of Staff that suggests he is going to be a politician after all, but there is some legend brewing in it all. The responsibility is more ours to protect that, I think. I am also praying that we don’t get fucked for believing in something so unitedly. Like teenagers, our swooning is part of our vulnerability.
Look at me, still spouting. Okay, I’ll end with my three favorite things I read yesterday in the coverage:
Headlines from The Onion:
And from a BBC story covering Obama’s family’s reaction in Kenya: on election night, young men marched in the slums of Nairobi singing “Obama don’t sleep. The struggle is still on.”
PS: I am sooooo jealous of your historical night spent in Pixar, sitting in Indian food and guzzling champagne! That is the best I have heard yet! For the grandkids, that one!