Sunday, February 8, 2009

Barack the Dream Catcher

Julie Warner wrote a column in the NYT about people’s dreams, day dreams and fantasies about the Obamas. It is sad, funny and weird. A few quotes:
“The other day a friend of mine confided that in the weeks leading up to the election, the Obamas’ apparent joy as a couple had made her just miserable. Their marriage looked so much happier than hers. Their life seemed so perfect. “I was at a place where I was tempted daily to throttle my husband,” she said. “This coincided with Michelle saying the most beautiful things about Barack. Each time I heard her speak about him I got tears in my eyes — because I felt so far away from that kind of bliss in my own life and perhaps even more, because I was so moved by her expressions of devotion to him. And unlike previous presidential couples, they are our age, have children the same age and (just imagine the stress of daily life on the campaign) by all accounts should have been fighting even more than we were.”
. . . . . . . . .
“A lot of people share the fantasy that having the Obamas over for “dinner and a game of Scrabble,” as one daydreamer put it to me, is something that really could just about happen.
. . . . . . . . .
“This is the first president I’ve known who looks, talks and acts like a peer,” is how one Washington man explained it to me. “Notwithstanding his somewhat exotic life story, I feel like I understand what he’s like and where he’s coming from. And despite his incredible achievements, he still seems like a lot of people I know”
. . . . . . . . . .
“For some, not knowing the Obamas has almost turned into a feeling of being snubbed or excluded. Like in middle school. It’s funny. Almost.
““Why won’t my kids be sleeping over at the White House? And as my daughter noted, why couldn’t she get to sit front and center and see the Jonas Brothers and Miley perform at the kids’ inaugural concert? If she went to Sidwell, then she might have these chances, she said …” wrote a mother whose kids are not at Sidwell Friends school with Sasha and Malia.
““Will Michelle stay down to earth? She could prove it by joining our book club,” wrote a Sidwell mom.
“This is, perhaps, the price of faux-familiarity. If I were Barack Obama (or Michelle, for that matter), I’d be a little scared. After all, when people are wearing their egos on their sleeves, it’s so easy to bruise their feelings. What will happen if fantasy turns to contempt? “

But these people don’t even know anything about the Obamas! The dinosaur media have thrown a protective wall around Barack and Michelle. These media have suppressed general knowledge about the Obamas to some of his spoken word and endless reports that he’s wonderful and most that people find him wonderful and inspiring. But this ignorance is the engine of all the fantasizing. The media created void can easily be filled by hopes, goals, fears and all the stray psychological creatures that yammer and whisper in the back of our heads. All of these emotion laden mental critters that dwell on the border between the conscious and the subconscious naturally attach themselves to the empty space that is the Obama persona.
And herein lies a great danger of making knowledge contraband. Right now the Obamas are the recipients of mainly positive stuff from feeling land. But at the same time they are forging a strong link to Americans’ emotions. And to the amazement of Barack, Michele and the dinosaurs there could be an instantaneous and wide spread reversal into the negative. And this will happen to some people who have convinced themselves that they are intelligent and in control. When that happens they will be angry and feel lost.
Among the reader comments I found an excellent one by a JMB. I’m going to close by reproducing it in full.

Thank goodness I skipped the fantasy stage and went straight to contempt , oh, sometime back in 2007 when I was about 80 pages into the carefully packaged story line of “Dreams from My Father.” The man is a phony, through and through. Just about every word he speaks is hollow.
Take, for example, the quotation from the inaugural speech that my 7-year-old had to “put in your own words” last week, and which I’ve consequently had baked into my brain: “The challenges we face are real. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met. ”
Nothing but passive voice. Nothing but euphemism, verbosity (”short span of time” instead of “quickly” or “soon”), vagueness and one big, empty and meaningless promise. *Who* will meet these challenges? When? By what means? What challenges are we talking about, anyway? The economy? Iraq? Terrorism? Global warming? The war on all classes below hedge-fund manager?
*I* put the quote into *my* own words, as this: “I want you to have faith right now that someone, sometime will eventually fix all the nation’s problems. Don’t expect anything quickly, and please don’t let yourself be troubled by any initial actions of mine that might suggest I’m just as much in the pocket of multinational corporations as my predecessor was. Don’t worry. Be happy.”
Needless to say, reading this blog lately has been about as appetizing as a box of melted Pepto Bismol truffles. But it makes me feel blessed not to have been blinded, and I’m curious as to when Ms. Warner and her Obama-girl crowd are finally going to wake up.

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