An Obama Greek Tragedy of Absent Love?

I like this piece by the Headmistress, which echos much of what I feel about Barack Obama; that while I dislike his policies, there is something about him that I like and almost sympathize with. I won’t vote for him, and I still believe he never meant to be the Democrat nominee in ’08; I think he meant to be Hillary’s veep, at best – he’d soften her bristles, warm her chilly edges and give her ticket class and panache, and he’d get 8 years to learn the ropes and prepare himself to walk into the gig in 2016. But things didn’t work out that way.

You know, a Hillary/Obama ticket would have been unbeatable. I don’t believe an Obama/Hillary ticket would be. And I doubt we’ll see it, anyway. Hillary is not going to spend 8 years being his veep and take herself out of contention – by virtue of age – in 2016.

The Headmistress links to this piece by Christopher Hitchens, which I had linked to earlier in the week, and if you’ve missed it you will want to read it. He, too, wonders if this is what Obama thought he was signing on for.

But back to her post, Headmistress quotes Obama himself, from his book, “The Audacity of Hope”

Undoubtedly, some of these views will get me in trouble, I am new enough on the national political screen that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripe project their own views. As such I am bound to disappoint some, if not all of them. Which perhaps indicates a second, more intimate theme to this book – namely how I or anybody else in public office, can avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and thereby retain that kernel of truth, that singular voice within each of us that reminds us of our deepest commitments.

Writes Headmistress:

I find Obama in many ways a sympathetic figure, even though I can’t stand his politics, and I think he has been posing rather than sincere about ‘change’ and a new kind of politics (I think the media is worse, much worse, and I truly loathe what part the media has played in creating the ObamaMessiah). I also find Obama a tragic figure. I would agree that everybody in public office needs to avoid the pitfalls of fame, but I don’t really see in McCain a hunger to please or a fear of loss. I see those things to some degree in Bill Clinton, but not Hillary, and it’s interesting that Bill Clinton and Obama both come from broken homes. – [emphasis mine -admin]

Oh, SNAP! I’ve been saying for forever that the politician with the inordinate desire to be loved by everyone is the most dangerous sort of politician, because he won’t take a stand; he freezes and runs to the polls. It is the problem of the mother-hung (or, really, father-hung) politician, a need to be loved, and the absence of the strong, decisive male role-model to give him some necessary cojones.

We saw this with Bill Clinton in the 1990′s, in his inability to clearly articulate or form effective responses to the predictable-as-clockwork attacks by Al Qaeda upon American holdings and interests – even when the terrorists made bold enough to attack one of our naval vessels. We saw it again last week when Obama, watching the world economy begin to crumble, and seeing our own “leadership” publicly fret that “no one knows what to do” came out and announced that…well, that he had nothing to announce.

Here’s what I wrote about the “the mother (and father) hung” back then:

These people, lacking mothers [or lacking fathers], look ever outward and require enormous adulation, but it’s all long-distance adulation – the length of a playing field or arena, via video, CD, radio – it’s not personal or warm. Just think of the gazillion stories of stars who had the love of the distant world but lived in private hells because they had no one to talk to, no intimacy in their lives. Look at Marilyn Monroe – she was the most wanted woman in the world, yet the night she died, she couldn’t get anyone to even talk to her on the phone! John Lennon was able to put it down, and be a family guy baking bread, when he finally had familial intimacy.

Interestingly, both John McCain and – as Headmistress says – Hillary Clinton, came from households with very strong masculine role-models. And neither of them are afraid of a few boos.

Headmistress believes (I do too) that Barack really is missing his babies – he’s missing that familial intimacy; he clearly adores his wife and kids – and that is what prompts the whining about crappy food. She runs the recent tape of Obama misspeaking and then saying (to someone unseen) “that’s what I said,” which we ran here a few days ago. She does not wonder, as I did, who the heck Obama was talking to. She is, instead, moved by the terror in Obama’s eyes:

It’s not his tiny, and insignificant gaffe that interests me here- it’s the bewilderment on his face. It’s sad.

Do read the rest of her piece.

There is no question that anyone we elect to any office will bring the baggage
of their upbringing and the signal events of their lives with them, both for better or for worse, and so I don’t know that it’s completely fair to spend much time considering it. But it is probably unwise not to think about it a little, when trying to get a picture of the whole man, and a sense of whether or not he’ll be able to show some leadership in dire times.

Leadership, of course, is partly about “showing up.” It’s about not running away when things get hard, as Mrs. Pelosi wanted to last week. It is also about being able to make difficult, belt-tightening, unpopular decisions and stick by them. Whoever is next elected to the White House is going to have to be able to do that. He’s going to have to be a bit of a stern father, willing to be unpopular, for the good of the teenagers who just want everything to be chill.

We are living through a huge era of inauthenticity and illusion – the illusionists are on all sides, and they’re masters of misdirection; they get you looking one way, while they manipulate things in the other direction.

I’m a praying person and so I am going to pray for wisdom for our leadership and also within the electorate, that we might be guided toward the most authentic and clear-thinking of the candidates, the one most dedicated to serving the people of this nation, and not the elitists. We need authenticity. We need clear-thinking.

If you’re not a praying person, I have no suggestions for you, except kiss it up to the wind and trust your reason, I guess. But also, maybe – just maybe – do a gutcheck and trust your instincts. Your guts are there for a reason, and it ain’t just to digest guacamole and pablum.

UPDATE: If you are inclined to at least listen to a prayer, even if you don’t want to pray, yourself – you can always go here!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • rcareaga

    Leadership, of course, is partly about “showing up.” It’s about not running away when things get hard.

    How very…serendipitous for you to put it just so this afternoon, Madam A.

    [uh-huh - obviously you're talking about the McCain move this afternoon, and you think you've got me cornered in an irony. Well I think it was dumb of him. So there. BUT let's continue to at least make distinctions, shall we? A postponement of a debate is not "let's all get out of dodge!" Which is pretty much Pelosi & Reid's responses, especially not when the debate was not about economics, but foreign policy. But McCain is still dumb to do it. Then again, maybe he is noble. As someone said above, he's running TO the fire, not away from it. And I changed the word "stunt" to move, because I never thought it was a stunt, and should not have used that word-admin]

  • http://notsothoreau.com terip

    Do you think that non-Christians know about that? I know that in our church, we pray for guidance for our leaders. We don’t just pray for the Repubs, we pray for them all.

    I don’t think McCain was dumb to want to focus on the economy right now. He is quite capable of bi-partisanship, which is something needed in Congress right now. (I’m starting to think of it as the “Brave Sir Robin” Congress, as in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail.) Both he and Obama are in Congress after all, and I think their presence is definitely required there. They can reschedule the debate later.

    [Of course non-Christians know about that. All people of faith know about praying for wisdom. As to McCain's ability to encourage bi-partisanship, it won't matter. The people in DC do not want bi-partisanship - I suspect they want to play this as long as they can because they figure it helps Obama and hurts McCain - and they certainly don't want to be seen as allowing McCain to lead them out of any crisis; they will not allow him to try to work with them. Watch. - admin]

  • rcareaga

    The “stunt” adds to an overall impression that McCain doesn’t really think these things through. Come Friday, Either Obama shows up for the debate (as Reagan did in 1980 when Carter skipped an appearance–the Gipper was delighted to share the stage with John Anderson and an empty chair) and has 90 minutes to answer Jim Lehrer’s questions without any input from the GOP, or McCain reverses his position and appears after all. Dumb indeed. I can’t imagine this changing George Will’s mind.

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