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Wendy Block

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Separation Anxiety

Posted: 09/09/11 12:15 PM ET

Just before the divorce attorney welcomes me, I warn myself, be sure. Because when the lawyer asks my husband's name, I'll have to say, "Barack Obama."

No need for an alarm clock following that. A lifelong insomniac, I lull myself to sleep and usually stay in dreamland via NPR and Pacifica. So as soon as my brain defuzzed sufficiently, I understood why our president was in my subconscious. But no one on the radio had talked about the First Couple divorcing. What sparked my unhappy thoughts and feelings? And why weren't they surprising me?

In the dream I could not bring myself to attend the president's dress rehearsal for his next big speech. I didn't want to hear bold pronouncements, sure only to sputter out into tepid reality. And I realized that the joy I remembered from our early days together was gone.

Beyond marveling at the obvious weirdness, I wondered how many women (and, what the heck? men) might have had similar dreams. A few Google clicks later I found idreamofbarack from May 2008, with an array of vivid entries -- involving breast pumps, The Lord of the Rings and, of course, sex, from 150 respondents about the then-candidate. When the host of that site stopped posting, a psychologist/dream researcher named Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D. took over at idreamofobama. According to Bulkeley, "Hundreds, if not thousands, of people all around the world have had actual nighttime dreams in which Barack Obama has appeared and interacted with them on a very human level." In the most recent entry, the dreamer can't hear what President Obama is saying, though they're in the same room.

And there's a terrific New York Times Obama dream musing from February 2009. If writer Judith Warner is always as prescient as her last line demonstrates, I'd trust her to invest all my money if I had any.

To date, I've found no other Obama divorce dreams online. In the real world, however, progressives are separating from the president, though a majority continues to support him.

At the California Democratic Party's (CDP) recent Executive Board meeting, Progressive Caucus members resolved to consider supporting a primary challenge next year (I belong to the caucus but didn't attend that meeting. I'm not sure how I would have voted. Either choice leads straight to pain).

It turns out that all 19 CDP caucuses happened to be up for recertification as official party groups. Eighteen won routine approval. But led by the African-American Caucus, the CDP voted to table the recertification vote for the Progs till later this year. Party officials hope the parties will cool down by then, so at least one hope -- if not change -- will probably be realized.

My worst long-range political nightmare is watching the next Republican president appoint even one Supreme Court justice (Go Ralph Nader for President in 2000!). Maybe my recent dream ended when it did so that I could avoid choosing whether to stay with someone whose major decisions have disappointed, confused and angered me. Many of us progressives wish we could hook up with an alternative candidate or change the system so issues counted more than office seekers.

Even if the president reprises his compelling campaign ways soon, it may be impossible for me to trust his vows or even his aspirations. But I'll vote for him and probably work pretty hard for him, which most of my liberal buddies will do, too. I'm sure of that. Unfortunately, so probably is he.

 

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