If Barack Obama fell alone in the woods, would we all feel his pain? When he stumbles upon his first policy failure, will we, the American people, hurt the most? I ask these questions because, this morning I read a New York Times blog post titled “Sometimes a President is just a President,” and was left wondering what was it exactly about President Obama and the entire Obama clan that makes them seem so accessible to us as a nation? Do we want to mirror them in our own lives and our own relationships? Or are we looking for some sort of hero, a savior?
In the piece, author Judith Warner, details a dream she had of Barack Obama showering in her bathroom. She then went on to describe similar dreams of others, dreams of having sex with Barack, dreams of befriending Michelle, dreams of having the girls over for a play date, while Michelle goes off to shop at Costco. Quite frankly, it all strikes me as a little creepy, because my dreams and anxieties usually include teeth falling out, free-falling over the Grand Canyon or riding a subway car naked, not the President of the United States and his family, and definitely NOT the Vice President. I dream of Biden? No way.
Our national Obama obsession is quickly crossing a blurry line into demagogue territory. Has history and Simon Cowell taught us nothing about idol worship? Barak Obama is not Superman. We are only in his first 100 days of the presidency. He will be tested. He will fall. He will fail us. Why? Because, he is human. The expectations we are all placing, not just Americans but the world, on this one man are gargantuan and godlike. Everyday the pedestal that we have placed him on rises higher and higher to the Heavens like the Tower of Babel. Newsweek has even run a cover story citing how Obama will talk us out of an economic depression with his confidence. How will we all react when he falls?
We need to give the man and his family space. The freedom to make decisions and the freedom to make mistakes. My favorite essay in “The Last Lecture” is titled “Be the First Penguin,” it is about not being afraid to fail. Late author, Randy Pausch, writes “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” He later writes that students need to realize that “failure is not just acceptable, but that it is essential.” At the rate that Obamania is growing, there is no room for failure and one misstep, one wrong turn and the entire train is derailed. Will the fallout merit the mistake? In Obama’s case probably not, but rest assured Mr. President, there will be some of us waiting with one of Pausch’s “Best First Penguin” awards to help you up, to applaud your failure and to let you use your experience to move us as a nation on.
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