Whoo! Party party party. Obama! President Obama. Black President Obama. Yeah! Yeah. yeah.
Whoo. Is that enough now? Can we wind it down?
A little bit lower now. A little bit lower now. A little bit softer now.
President Obama has had his inauguration, and we all said terribly nice things about him, and we all meant them at the time. Good times. But now that he’s president, can we please start picking him apart? Please?
Because if this honeymoon period goes on for, say, a full week or something, I’m going to find some salmonella-tainted peanut-butter cookies and put myself out of my misery. And eight years of this? Impossible. Though everyone seems to be saying the opposite, it wouldn’t be good for us or for Obama to embrace his now-apparent greatness.
This man has flaws, whether they’re obvious or not. Eventually we’ll find them, agree on them, make running jokes of them, grind them under stone wheels until they make a paste, and use the paste to stick our insults to him until they never wash off again.
Just think about Dick Cheney, who hurt his back lifting a box bearing one measure of his formidable record, like Marley’s ghost toting his chains, and so had to be rolled out of office in a wheelchair with a shotgun rack attached. Perhaps the box didn’t look heavy, but it turned out it was full of dark matter of Cheney’s own making.
Sure, Obama raised Ted Kennedy from the dead the other day and can levitate just a little bit, but so can David Blaine, and that fraud’s street magic tricks have all been revealed on YouTube. So we need to temper our hopes and expectations.
I remind you that George W. Bush devoted every ounce of energy for eight years to ruining the country, and it didn’t really go to shit until the very end. So we can’t expect President Obama to be able to turn things around immediately.
Give it time to reveal Obama’s most worrisome flaws.
We already know some of them.
We know, for example, that he’s demonstrated definite blindness in his choice of pastors. First, he failed for decades to notice that his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was preaching unpopular (I’m not saying wrong) views. So he was either remarkably inattentive or, worse, willing to cast aside an old teacher for political expediency.
Then Obama asked that gay-marriage-opposing nonpartisan evangelist-de-jour Rev. Rick Warren, who stole his collar from the dead hands of Billy Graham (he is dead, right?) to give the conflagellation or whatever at Obama’s inauguration.
And then there’s Obama’s nasal Illinois accent, the way he says “tuh,” instead of “to.” His largish, wing-like ears. Did you notice how he fumbled the words with his swearing-in pledge? Many flaws. Pick one and run.
I understand this is an important moment in our history, with a lot at stake, and that he’s trying to be the change we need. But I have about as much optimism within my soul as I have hair on my nipples, which is to say just a little bit and not so much as anyone would notice unless they looked really closely, by which time it would probably be socially awkward for them to mention it.
We often find that the flaws that dirty up presidencies are the ones we already knew about. We fairly well knew Bill Clinton enjoyed sexual favors from women he wasn’t married to, and we fairly well knew he didn’t mind lying about them. We knew Bush Number 43 wasn’t introspective, a good study, or capable of seeing gradations between good and evil.
We knew these things going in, so we didn’t so much discover these presidential faults as grow weary of them. So what will be Obama’s signature fault?
I’d put my marks on hubris. His father left his life, he turned to drugs for a time in a failed quest for a misspentyouth, and then he becomes president of Harvard Law? This is a man with something to prove. Who can blame him for wanting to believe all of the terrific things people are saying about him now?
When you watch him speak, he seems too often to talk as if the masons stand ready with their chisels and blank granite slates. It would be easy for him now to believe the accolades, to aspirate the cheers of the one million who crammed into the National Mall for him, and to ignore the doubts that keep every human running sane.
If hubris is his signature fault, then it is our duty to guard him from it. Criticize Barack Obama. Find out what’s wrong with his leadership, and shout it, print it, twitter it across the wireless spectrum. It may feel a bit awkward at first, but you’ll ultimately be doing him, and us all, a favor. ∆
Write Shredder at firstname.lastname@example.org.