Tuesday, January 20, 2009

You shall have no other gods . . .

I’m beginning this at 11:10 Tuesday 22, immediately after having watched the inauguration of Obama on TV. It was indeed a stirring and historical event, the inauguration speech full of moving and inspiring rhetoric and memorable lines, shots of weeping girls and women everywhere, all very heartwarming. And yet, in spite of Obama’s explicit scolding and chastisement of cynics who think nothing can change for the better, I’m an old dog resistant to learning new tricks. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Joe Bageant and “Gloom and doom report.” But actually, I’m not really cynical so much as I’m worried.

My last post here (“News flash,” 22 Nov 08), almost two months ago but two weeks after the Great Victory, was a gentle, Onion-like satire depicting the public’s perception of Obama as a sort of Christ-like miracle-worker. What I saw this morning only more strongly confirmed that impression. There was a distinct air of adoration, even worship, which made me very uneasy. Notwithstanding the title of this post, it doesn’t really have much to do with idolatry, though a case might be made for that. It’s just that I think everybody is expecting entirely too much of this man, much of which may simply be impossible for him or anyone else to accomplish, not just in four years, but ever. I’m sure he will effect a great deal of beneficial change, but I’m equally sure that he will not meet everyone’s expectations, simply because many of those expectations are wildly unrealistic. He is human, and therefore fallible. He will inevitably make mistakes; and unfortunately, much of what he does right will probably be perceived as wrong by those who had a conflicting agenda. And when he is seen to make mistakes, whether real or perceived, he will be mercilessly and savagely crucified, not only by his diehard enemies but by all his worshipers who expected him to fulfill all their dreams. For those Christians familiar with the Passion narrative, remember what happened to Jesus between Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday. Every president, of course, has a honeymoon of indeterminate duration, and what happens when the honeymoon is over and his worshipers discover he has clay feet, and how he deals with their disillusionment and fury, will to a great extent determine what the remainder of the term will be like. We can only hope and pray for the best, or even just the acceptable, but an inveterate cynic and curmudgeon finds that difficult to do with any conviction.

No comments: