Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Yes, God forbid that while talking to 60,000 public school students, the President should appear smart."

Barack Obama is making me a little sad that we don't have a tv (a feeling which arises during the baseball post season and at just about no other time ever). I think this is because I'm pretty sure his speeches are written by Aaron Sorkin. He speaks of "workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier, and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land." He promised last night, "We will remember that something is happening on the streets of America, that we are one people, that we are one nation, and that together we can begin the next chapter in America's story with the three words ... Yes, we can." It makes me weepy.

But my question is this: is falling for Obama because of the poetry, because he's so good with the words, really any less shallow than voting for someone because he's young and attractive or because he looks like a cowboy and what's more 'merican than a cowboy or because he talks stupid just like me or because he's someone I'd like to have a beer with? Beers, cowboys, and stupid people do nothing for me (young and attractive I consider on a case by case basis), but then I wasn't the target audience on those, but boys with words...well he had me at "audacity."

And while I would argue that facility with words suggests other qualities like intelligence which might come in handy when running a country (but then I teach facility with words for a living and Obama didn't write his anyway), it could just be a question of what gets your rocks off. Still, if the folks who know about these things (myself, I wouldn't have guessed that stupid=electable or that speaking French=unfit to serve as president, so shows what I know) think that poetry is more marketable this season than dumb cowboy, already I feel we've won one. (About damn time too).

P.S. Bonus points for naming the West Wingepisode that lends the post title.



Lilita said...

"Galileo's head was on the block; The crime was looking up the truth." Too easy, mtg. But your point is a good one, especially when our man Edwards' contribution to speaking for the week has been "I think what we need in a commander in chief is strength and resolve" in reaction to Clinton's tearing up. Disappointing, very disappointing.

fronesis said...

I don't know which West Wing episode it is off the top of my head. I do know the Indigo Girls song to which Lil refers, but that's certainly too easy.

And in response to your post: there IS a difference between Obama making you swoon with his words and some guy in Oklahama who thinks he can relate to Bush. It's this: political leaders are supposed to fucking LEAD! They should inspire us. They should show us their vision for the country and the world. They should bring people together into a collective whose actions can bring about genuine change. You need words of some sort in order to bring people together in this way.

And this isn't just about intelligence. I don't think Reagan was a genius, but unlike GWB, Reagan DID inspire (some) people and he did use words to bring people together. This isn't to say that I would have voted for Reagan, but I'm fine with saying that in terms of being a political actor and leader, he was a hell of a lot 'better' than Bush.

And, for the record, I'd dump everyone else and vote for Joss Whedon in a heartbeat.

mtg said...

fronesis, i'd dump everyone else and vote for you in a heartbeat (and i know you to be crazy). mita and i indeed spent many carpooling hours this semester considering whether making up gore/whedon 08 bumper stickers was a crazy idea or a brilliant one.

and i don't know lilita, but i didn't think the edwards thing as offensive as everyone else seems to have. he was talking out his ass for the cameras as one must when one is running for president. if someone had asked me after 65,345, 677 hours of campaigning what i thought about HRC's "emotional moment," i would myself have burst into tears from sheer frustration at the question. so while, sure, obama's answer was better, i felt like, for instance, Broadsheet's response was, um, insane. Yes we love his voting record, his politics, his ideas, his supporters, his staff, and his positions, but he said this semi-critical thing about HRC based on something that seems gender-y (Broadsheet's -- and everyone else's -- fit here surely, but not Edwards's), and we are actually going to put a photo of an ork next to him. (okay, i paraphrased.) are they four? and is that not absurdly reductive and petty and point-missing and pandering and little girl-y? (btw, what the hell is an ork anyway? is this some kind of star wars ref i am missing?)

Mita said...

LOTR. Or, alternatively, the planet from which Mork was from. Man, I shouldn't know this stuff.

And I think what's key is how one's words interact with someone else's. Call it conversation, call it debate (though not the kinds of debate we have these days).

And, also, postmodernism has made us skeptical of the ability of words to inspire us (or maybe that's just my stupid degree). Maybe if Obama spoke his words sideways, or backwords, or integrated foreign words without defining them, or some combination therein, I would be like, "Oh yeah, I totally get what he's saying and I'm with him." I mean not really. Maybe he should use drawings.

Also, it's 6 a.m.

Mita said...


Ay yi yi.