Is our first African American president something or what? Did you see him respond to the crowd and the crowd respond to him, at his latest town hall meeting? Like many others, from the very first time I heard him speak, I knew he was going places.
As a presidential hopeful, faultlessly arrayed in formal evening clothes, wearing an immaculate white tie and waistcoat both, Obama had certainly looked the part. He had successfully fought off the snarling, snarky assault of Hillary Clinton to emerge as the Democratic presidential contender and had already endured searing rants from an obviously angry and bellicose John McCain. "So what", I had wondered aloud," what in the hell, is he doing up there on a platform with that addled old man? "
The occasion was the gala annual Al Smith Dinner in New York, honoring the memory of the first Catholic to run for the presidency of the United States. These occasions are roasts that started out, in a quainter era, as 'stag' dinners. Their great feature is the sophomoric sport of inviting guests to poke gentle fun at themselves and the guests of honor. Now the honorees were the two men who would be President of the United States of America, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.
"He's a fool to consort and laugh with this man who has so insulted him and his record," I said to my TV set. Indeed, notwithstanding how superb he looked, I was convinced of it! However, then Obama said of himself,
Contrary to the rumors you may haveheard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton,
sent here by my father Jo Ell to save the planet earth..."
What could I or anyone do but laugh? I did, and so did McCain; we laughed uproariously! It's rich, yet so droll, our future president's glib, assured way of disarming his opponents by satirizing his strong suits of cool, thoughtful deliberation. Recalling the confused but unswerving bluster of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Karl Rove, I might be laughing still, with wonderment and relief. But things are far too grim for that, thanks mostly to them.
Still imagining how much more awful things might be now, if our reasonable fears had been realized, and Obama hadn't been able to win, I still smile. It has only been a meager 100 days since Barack Obama took the oath of office, but as Arianna Huffington notes, "Sometimes 100 days feels like more than 100 days. This is one of those times. Obama's first 100 days have been among the most eventful in history."
When he praised billionaire-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, failed to make Paul Krugman Treasury Secretary and selected a HUD chief who had sanguinely suggested making a good portion of New York's scarce public housing private and market rate, one knew the President was not perfect, but then no one is. So polls say 69 percent of Americans approve of the job the Obama has undertaken and almost half feels he has us headed in the right direction! As for our First Lady, Michelle Obama, wow! Gone are all those concerns about her patriotism and nearly 80 percent polled think she's just fantastic.
Now then, certainly some let the Obamas pass because of their lovely daughters and cute, if nutty-acting dog. Some polled undoubtedly felt sympathetic, thinking of their own parents and in-laws and what it might be like to have one of them to live with! But, I ask you, there's got to be something more right, because Detroit is still in trouble, real estate values and 401Ks are suffering from fallen valuations and more people are losing jobs and houses every day, still! What can be the secret of President Obama's popularity in these difficult times then?
The answer is the confidence his confidence and qualified optimism inspires, the trust his direct and sincere manner engenders, and the hope that his assurance that we won't repeat any of the failed policies of the recent past, arouses in everyone who aspires to living in a better word. That, in a word is that, except for this, his name is Barack Hussein Obama. He was born on Krypton and sent to America to save the planet earth..."