Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Obama Chronicles: (Vol. I) "Something Wicked This Way Comes"

I’ve got to go around my house and office and gather up all of my Obama stuff. Campaign stickers? Check. Campaign buttons? Check. Campaign emails that I’ve printed and hung on my cube walls? Check and check. Magazine covers in cellophane that I was going to keep forever, prideful in the fact that the first partially African American had been elected president? Yeppers. And check. That really funny Obama face mask with the eyes and mouth cut out – and matching cardboard suit with the neat red, light up tie? Amen. Uh huh. And triple check. I’m keeping my Obama t-shirts, sweatshirts and bumper stickers, though.

Just kidding. I don’t have any of that stuff. Not one bit. But if I did, I’d already have my user name and password typed into eBay, ready to pawn it off on some sucker.

The election was historic. The inauguration was unprecedented. The first 100 days, where the president and his agenda are strictly scrutinized and rated, were robust. And then the change. Michelle’s arms should be covered, they said. The president stuck his nose into a regional, racially-tinged argument that was blown out of proportion. And somebody brought up this idea about national healthcare, and the ‘public option’ I still haven’t been able to fully understand.

Most people won’t tell you this kind of thing, especially not in the south where we don’t talk about the person for whom we’ve voted unless it is in the confines of a party-specific environment. But I voted for Barack Hussein Obama. And, for a while, at least, I believed I was part of the group that made the correct decision. Maybe I still do. Sorry, Mr. Burnette, my fellow registered Republican. I just couldn’t, in good faith, support John McCain in his bid to run the country. Now, however, something wicked this way comes. And I’m not talking about Macbeth.

If you didn’t already know this, (from Wikipedia): Something Wicked This Way Comes is a 1962 novel by Ray Bradbury. It is about two 13-year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, who have a harrowing experience with a nightmarish traveling carnival that comes to their Midwestern town. The carnival's leader is the mysterious "Mr. Dark" who bears a tattoo for each person who, lured by the offer to live out his secret fantasies, has become bound in service to the carnival.

Taking great artistic liberties, of course, you can draw parallels between the story and reality, replacing the boys with Obama and Biden. The traveling carnival is, quite naturally, the madness that is Washington, D.C. For our purposes, Mr. Dark is the personification of politics, itself. If you’re a Democrat, you’d probably say Mr. Dark is Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. No pun intended on the Mr. Dark reference, Chairman Steele (hee hee). Again from Wikipedia: The novel combines elements of fantasy and horror, analyzing the conflicting natures of good and evil, and on how they come into play between the characters and the carnival.

The day after his inauguration, Obama’s approval rating was a juicy 65% (according to the site Rasmussenreports.com). Problems he inherited from Bush (and to some degree, even Clinton), an ever-raging war in the Middle East, bank failures and bailouts, the implosion of the real estate markets, a frightening collapse of industry, the severe and unbending contraction of economic growth, record unemployment and continued nationwide job losses, and myriad other factors that many would deem my kicking a dead horse, dropped his approval level to 47%, as of October 24.

Thanks to 43, we know that 44 has a long way to go before the wheels completely and totally fall off the wagon. Many people are gunning for Obama to make missteps and miscalculations, but for reasons both practical and emotional, this man cannot fail. He just does not have that opportunity. Like his mother and I used to tell our son when he was very young and about to do something bad, “That is not a choice.” As long as the carnival and Mr. Dark are present, they are allowed to operate in the same status quo (some would say quid pro quo) manner, and bipartisanship is used more in sound bites than in constructing true and lasting change for Americans, the chance remains that he will err, and in dramatic fashion. Either by his doing, or at the hand of others.

The president of the United States has been given an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by the citizens of the country he has been charged with helping to govern. Obama has an obligation to do whatever is necessary to safeguard our rights as Americans here at home. He must balance our responsibilities to allies around the globe while strengthening weakened relationships, a weakened dollar, and a weakened sense of America as the last remaining Super Power on the planet. And among the many items on his agenda, he has to operate under the unfathomable pressure of carrying the hopes and dreams and delusions of grandeur of minorities and Democrats and the left-leaning Republicans, like myself, who installed him in the Oval Office.

A Change We Can Believe In had better damn well be on the horizon. Because we all know what comes after 44.