Thursday, November 8, 2012

My hero / Barack Obama by Lorrie Moore

Barack Obama

My hero: 

Barack Obama by Lorrie Moore

'Could a black man be elected president twice? Many voters thought not'

Lorrie Moore
Thu 8 Nov 2012

he sheen is often off a second-term US president, even if the question of his being re-elected (or ever elected to begin with) has been put to rest. This has happened with ostensibly unthinkable candidates such as Ronald Reagan: once an ageing right-wing ex-movie star crashes through the gates of one's imagination into the White House and sets up shop there, perhaps anything at all can occur. Can a black man be elected president of the US? Well, yes! Can it happen twice? Many American voters thought not.
"Especially in this economy." That's a phrase voters have heard repeatedly in the past year in almost every context, from online dating to real-estate speculation. It has been noted that the second term for a president is almost always won by a larger margin than his initial win – he has already proven himself presidential and so that hurdle in the public mind has been overcome; sea-to-shining-sea acceptance can proceed like a warm bath of mixed metaphor over the electorate. But this did not happen for Obama – although, unlike Carter or Bush Sr, he also did not lose.
In his campaign against Romney, Obama seemed up against someone who already looked more like the president than he did, or at least looked like an actor playing the president on a TV show – albeit one from the last century. These telegenics appeared to give Romney an advantage in the debates over a reserved, thin African-American who is trying not to smoke. With all that money thrown into the competition, might Romney win?

Yet money, in the wake of a Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited spending, did not seem to have the final word, since there was so disgustingly much of it that campaign ad oversaturation caused many voters to mute the television and avoid the phone. And yet they still headed to the polls on election day. Substance won out. Even if the charisma, the aura, the unreasonable expectations, the heroic dimensions have tumbled away and left an actual human citizen, it is a citizen who is calm, high-minded, principled, practical and intelligent. It all means a real person was elected. (One who instituted some barebones national health care and is looking to reform Wall Street and the tax system; perhaps one who is even thinking about giving Romney a job.) The drone attacks on American citizens in Yemen, the ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead lilt to the national foreign policy discussion, the hang-gliding off the so-called fiscal cliff will all be set aside for now. Nothing is perfect. One has to rejoice in the pretty good.







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