(with apologies to Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings)
Much is being written and said today about Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office. But no one ever talks about the nights, and they may be more important, because when you get right down to it Obama is a romantic figure. Most of us who supported him would admit, if we were being honest, that it wasn’t Obama’s policies or ideas that swayed us so much as the fact that we think he’s awesome.
I don’t mean that as criticism. In fact, I think a big part of a president’s job is to embody the things we aspire to be. The presidents we remember are all romantic (in the old-fashioned sense) and/or heroic figures of one kind or another: JFK, Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Reagan (not a hero to me, but to many).
A piece I read yesterday called “David Brooks: How Obama Seduced Me” got me to thinking: That’s really what Barack did. He seduced us, as a nation, at a vulnerable time in our history. We were on the rebound. Our last long-term relationship had not gone so well: The guy had come from a prominent family, looked prosperous, and said he was “compassionate.” Then he turned out to be a dumb, lazy, abusive sumbitch addicted to invading random countries and with a penchant for giving unwanted backrubs to world leaders. We were hurt, and we were depressed, and then along comes this smooth-talking stranger with a thousand-watt smile. We fell hard and threw caution to the wind.
Some members of the family didn’t like it (especially that uncle from South Carolina). They wanted us to play it safe and marry the icky old guy. But we were in love, and ready to take a risk, so we went for it.
Now a few months have gone by, and it’s time for a bit of sober reflection. To stretch the metaphor a bit more, we married this guy after a very brief courtship. After the honeymoon you have to settle down to the daily reality of actual life, and naturally things aren’t going to be perfect. It’s hard to avoid having a tinge of disappointment creep into our evaluations, because we projected all our hopes and dreams of what a president could be onto Obama, and there’s no way he could have lived up to it all.
The real question is, are we happy with our choice? At the end of the day, would we sleep better knowing that McCain or Hillary were in the Oval Office? I don’t think so. Barack is our guy — he has his faults, and so do we, but I believe we can make this thing work.