Obama’s Road to NowhereJanuary 26th, 2009
by Paul A. Toth
In a moment, should you click “read more,” you’ll see the image that set me on the tracks to this essay. Caveat: I voted for Madonna — I mean Obama — and, I, too, wish to feel hopeful. Despite all appearances, I’ve nothing against hope; I just find it harder to maintain than most people. After all, a half-full glass of water is on its way to being empty, if only through evaporation. Pessimism, therefore, is simply good science. But wait: Here comes my train of thought, choo-choo.
I fear that someone somewhere has already bought this train set and is now setting an M-80 on the tracks. I’m afraid we’re setting ourselves up for a John F. Kennedy moment, only much worse and with a true loss of innocence: Unlike JFK, Obama hasn’t been treated for a stream of concomitant sexually transmitted diseases.
Putting away childish things means putting away false hopes. I used to hope I would become a surgeon, yet I’m scared of skin, much less what lies beneath it. Some hopes are justified. Others prove delusional, i.e, hoping novels unrelated to shopping and shoes will sell.
There is cause for some hope. A majority of voters in America, that great repository of hypocrisy, actually elected an African-American president. But what happens if (or, more accurately, when) our woes show no response to chemohopetherapy? Will the undertow of racism suck us into hope’s opposite? Is the real America — including those so busy drinking beer and yelling racial epithets at The Jeffersons that they haven’t time to vote — truly ready for a black president? On some level, who cares? On another level, we’d better care…before it’s too late.
To me, all of this hope, as necessary as it may be to surviving you-know-whose anti-legacy, points to desperation. Are we like jilted lovers seeking solace from fortune tellers, ready to pin absolute belief on just about anything for the sake of believing just about anything?
Lest we forget: Hope, Arkansas. Bill Clinton came from a place called Hope, and look where that got us…terminal globizationitis. And that’s immune to chemohopetherapy.
I hope our train of hope isn’t pulling up to the terminal any time soon. I bought a ticket, too, and I’d like the ride to last a while. I’d like to witness cities and countrysides that remind me more of Walt Whitman than William S. Burroughs. I’d like to feel that science serves a higher purpose than finding new ways of refining oil. I’d like to feel that this past Inauguration Day, so impressive in its singularity of positivity, will lead to something that makes an impression.
Are we on a ride to nowhere? I suppose I can only say, “Come on inside.” We might as well enjoy these moments, even if in they’re eventually viewed as something like a vacation. Obama more eloquently states the obvious: Saying isn’t doing, and doing is difficult.
Let’s get it done…before we’re done.