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Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio?

10/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

First it was mutterings. And then, faint in the background, rumblings. No, not rumblings, sighs. Deep Bergman-esque sighs. Bergman quality, Seventh Seal-ish sighs coming from all sorts of the previously convinced.

Sighs, it seemed, brought on by the disappointment from a dream deferred. The Obama dream that so many dreamt. The dream of discovering something new in politics. Something you could believe in. A candidate who could and would make a difference. A new kind of politician who spoke to you and of you and said what had always been there in your heart waiting for someone to say for you.

All of us in the 21st Century wanting so much to believe in something. Young people, like all young people, deeply suspicious, if not hurt, by the reality of life hypocritical. Things not being what they seem or seemed. Seeking truth, seeking purity amid the imperfection of parents, school, teachers, jobs, politics, America.

The young, the old, the sixties generation who will always be young and will never age, the twentysomethings, the thirtysomethings, men, women, black and white and brown and tan, burned, pimpled, tall, thin, short, broad, athletic, shy, forward, angry, fearful, ambitious, successful, out of work--the America of America--finding and believing in Barack Obama's candidacy.

Drawn to his story. Drawn to his telling of his story. Drawn to the post-racial America that his candidacy represented. When he spoke, he spoke of an America that we all believed in, in a language that was fresh and natural and made sense. He spoke of an America that we always hoped to be able to believe in. An America we believed was there waiting for a candidate, waiting for a President who could help us realize it.

He beat the perennial old white male insider politicians in the primary like a drum. He beat the first credible female Presidential candidate by putting together a new mix of voters: a mix of, well, everyone.

Faced with controversy, a pastor and a church that seemed to be the antithesis of his message, he was forced to make a make or break speech on who he is, who he was, and why we should believe him. A speech explaining in some way why our hopes should not become sighs of a summer's night.

He made that speech. And, in what he said, he won the nomination of his party. He won the Presidency.

But, then he became the presumptive candidate. And, now the candidate. But, his words have changed. His ideas, so new, so fresh, now seem to be what we have heard before. From others. It's as if he has slipped from our fingers and into the hands of the professionals. You know, the guys that can elect anyone. By manipulating the system. By manipulating voting blocs. Hard-eyed pros in thousand dollar suits and state of the art Blackberrys, who go from candidate to candidate, from state to state, with Powerpoint pitches as to why, given their 'experience', candidates should pay them huge fees to guarantee an election.

They seem to be in control. Barack seems to be someone different. We hear it in his hems and haws when unscripted, as he struggles to remember what to say not what he believes. We see it in stage management, and tightly controlled environments and hard edged spokespeople with lock step talking points on the talk shows. In an unseemly discipline of message from the playbook.

Barack gone, Barack lost, Barack controlled and packaged into electable merchandise. Not the dream candidate elevated by our dreams to the nomination. The Barack that was a lock for the Presidency. That Barack.

He was so special and has been manipulated into something so ordinary.