Friday, February 22, 2008

Selling Snake Oil??

I got my knickers in a twist the other day reading an article in my local paper by one of the Roanoke Times' more dimwitted columnists, Cal Thomas, who flat-out stated that "Obama cannot deliver...He is selling snake oil."

You wish! I thought. Thomas further declared Obama as "untested in battle" (what does he think a political "campaign" is, if not a battle?) and accused him of making people feel good (maybe grounds for future impeachment?). Somehow it all reminded me of the days when Marcel Duchamp exhibited a found urinal at the New York Armory, and was severely criticized for it's being "not art." But then, the sculpture went on to make history by opening up a richness of inventive possibility that had not been available in art before; eventually the urinal became the most expensive and coveted example of "snake oil" ever known to mankind. It should be stated that Duchamp's reputation has far outlived and outdistanced that of his critics.

I'm not ready to accept that Barack Obama is somehow a cure-all for all that ails this country, or that he will be a bulwark against the real possibility that humanity could soon become extinct. We all know that toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube. But perhaps what he can do is begin to reverse a modicum of the damage done by Bush-Cheney & Co., restoring something of America's honor and respected place in the world.

To my mind, the biggest plus that Obama brings to the table is an unfevered brain. That is to say, God help us, he's "just not that into" the whole political kabuki of global hegemony; he isn't itching for preeminence and full-spectrum dominance. Obama manifests no need to be seen as the giant that attacks other countries preemptively. With any luck, he won't mindlessly ratchet up the violence or run roughshod over everything from international law to the U.S. constitution. He won't lead by defiant vetoes, or fill the air waves with ideas about being strong or weak, winning or losing. Nor will he set his sights on raiding the world for its raw materials. This man has the beauty of both complexity and grandeur. He will not kick sand in anybody's face.

Sooo, eat your heart out, Cal. You'd better surrender, Dorothy, because you're out of your depth. You ain't seen nothin' yet. A beacon of self-possession, Barack Obama is not flushable. After nearly eight years of obtuse Bush and dislikable Cheney, the hearts of the American people fell to the ground and they could not lift them up again. If, by some miracle of grace, a person has appeared who can help them to lift up their hearts again, then I say: no wonder the country is positively fizzing with excitement. Why wouldn't they be?

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