Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It suddenly became clear

One thing is clear: It's no accident that Obama beguiled the electorate (and maybe himself) by over-promising his ability to change Washington, end partisan gridlock and "part the waters," so to speak. He'd been practicing similar social jujitsu most of his life.

[. . .]

In "The Bridge," Obama's mother comes alive as a smart, stubborn idealist, a devoted but also practical globalist, a lifelong anthropology student who also held jobs at New York foundations and women's banking groups and did pioneering work in the now-mainstream field of microlending (as well as policy prep work for the United Nations' 1995 World Women's Conference in Beijing; in a time-travel cameo, Dunham had high hopes, Remnick tells us, for first lady Hillary Clinton's advocacy). She was a devoted mother who loved her son passionately, but nonetheless left him without her for large swatches of a sometimes-forlorn childhood. Clearly Dunham deserves her own biography.

[. . .]

His rapid ascent notwithstanding, Chicago politics was not an easy pathway for Obama. His biggest problem was race.

[. . .]

Still, even at one of the Clinton campaign's lowest moments -- when Geraldine Ferraro angrily, ahistorically and unapologetically insisted, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is" -- Obama advisor Mona Sutphen told Remnick that many in the campaign in fact also believed race was helping Obama more than it was hurting him.

[. . .]

Obama has mostly defined the politically possible by what he can accomplish. If the skinny black kid with the big ears and the funny name can make all this happen, it's clearly at the outside limits of the possible -- and well within the boundaries of social good. I find myself wishing Obama had hit a few more speed bumps along his path to power, in order to learn the limits of his analysis (or at least to compromise after negotiation begins). But "The Bridge" makes clear Obama has the smarts to learn from his mistakes and course-correct. I think anyone who bets against this president having two terms to learn the limits of what's politically possible is betting against history. (Joan Walsh, “Barack Obama: the opacity of hope,” Salon, 5 April 2010)

It suddenly became clear

Re: “She was a devoted mother who loved her son passionately, but nonetheless left him without her for large swatches of a sometimes-forlorn childhood.”

I used to talk about my own mother that way. But at some point I understood that I was making commensurable the truly incommensurate: no one who truly loves another could abandon him to the point of his becoming forlorn -- not duty but absolute interest!, keeps you coming back. If you leave your dog alone a lot, you don't so much love your dog's company as you do how her absolute devotion can make you feel.

Obama impresses on me most as someone who "agreed" to be the puppet of other people's desires, the whole of his life. I also believe he was "guaranteed," someone whose rise to the presidency was for him, someone who is so acutely sensitive to others' needs, as as predictable as (and not much more exciting than) next day's morning routine -- baby boomers can use him to finish life feeling that their accrued societal accomplishments have them moving toward some unexpected, increasingly pure terminus: accomplishing the long-sought but clearly impossible, these aging darwinians-all will feel increasingly sure that proof is at hand that mundane, self-obliterating history was “true” for everyone before them, but that they are surely ones foretold in some originating prophecy. Their young will try and match their claims, but they know Obama to be THEIR accomplishment, and will expect all fuss and bother to be focused on them, earning and needing final shaping and polishing before becoming like clear constellations above, but in a new land of rediscovered love and total meaning.

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What the hell are you talking about? Is there any one in your world (other then your own very "central" self) whom you couldn't analyze to death? (response to post, Lucy with Diamonds)

the space odyssey, Lucy With Diamonds

I'm thinking, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. You don't feel that Obama is a glassy, opaque monolith, signing that unremarkable history is finally trespassing into the mythic? Maybe it's 'cause we've just "discovered" it, and have been busying ourselves first in fitting it in for usage in long-known squabbles, within long-familiar paradigms, as it patiently awaits our steadying ourselves for its actually rather profound implications. He stands as evidence the impossible to hope for, has been achieved. We may play at imagining him mostly the career politician, someone well compromised and all too familiar, but we have to accept that something remarkable, something transcendent in us has resulted in the election of someone so fine that only shock over our being a large part of the realization of something so truly perfect and great, has delayed his bridging of the parties, his uniting the country, his showing that within the America we've known to the point of blandness, lies something unaccounted for, very great, and ready to rise at our call.

Link: Barack Obama: the opacity of hope (Salon)

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