What I feel I’ve learned about Obama is that he was unready for the presidency and temperamentally unsuited to it in many ways. Yet the conjunction of right-wing hostility to his programs and to his very presence in office, with left-wing disappointment in his economic record and despair about his apparent inability to fight Republicans on their own terms, led to an underappreciation of his skills and accomplishments—an underappreciation that is as pronounced as the overestimation in those heady early days. Unprepared, yes. Cool to the point of chilly, yes. For all his ability to inspire and motivate people en masse, for all his advertised emphasis on surrounding himself with a first-rate “team of rivals,” Obama appears to have been unsavvy in the FDR-like arts of getting the best from his immediate team and continuing to attract the best people to him. Yet the test for presidents is not where they begin but how fast they learn and where they end up. Not even FDR was FDR at the start. The evidence is that Obama is learning, fast, to use the tools of office. Whether he is learning fast enough to have a chance to apply these skills in a second term—well, we’ll reconvene next year.
Pluses and minuses are considered, weighed, then Fallows concludes: And for those who supported him the first time, as I did? To me, the evidence suggests that given a second term, he would have a better chance of becoming the figure so many people imagined. I offer this not as opportunity to excoriate another obamappendage but to again ask - it's been a while - the neverending question, latest posed to me last night in all earnestness by a colleague weary of my relentless obamapostasies: which is worse, that Obama is the best honest hope for what remains of American liberalism or that Obama is the murderous Corporatist defender of Empire I insist he is? What's worse is both, I said.
- Lambchop's new album is Holyfuck!
- I heard ten minutes of Jack Goldsmith defending Obama last night.
- UPDATE! Americans at their best.
- Dictator's w/o borders.
- Falling for behaviorism.
- Building a caste system. It's always been a caste system; what's changed is the increasing strictness of the inclusion policy.
- Mitt Romney is the smarmiest fuck ever.
- Pastor Sanctimonious unloads on Frothy!
- The US-UK special relationship.
- UPDATE! Where I live! I was in a hideous meeting, I have an alibi.
- Put it in your mouth.
- Nominal determinism of science.
- YAY! Finally, the collected Jack Gilbert! Saw this after posting the Hudgins, Gilbert in upcoming days.
- Yo La Tengo will blind you with science.
- Tindersticks' new album is Holyfuck!
Our Father who art in heaven, I am drunk.
Again. Red wine. For which I offer thanks.
I ought to start with praise, but praise
comes hard to me. I stutter. Did I tell you
about the woman whom I taught, in bed,
this prayer? It starts with praise; the simple form
keeps things in order. I hear from her sometimes.
Do you? And after love, when I was hungry,
I said, Make me something to eat. She yelled,
Poof! You’re a casserole!—and laughed so hard
she fell out of the bed. Take care of her.
Next, confession—the dreary part. At night
deer drift from the dark woods and eat my garden.
They’re like enormous rats on stilts except,
of course, they’re beautiful. But why? What makes
them beautiful? I haven’t shot one yet.
I might. When I was twelve, I’d ride my bike
out to the dump and shoot the rats. It’s hard
to kill your rats, our Father. You have to use
a hollow point and hit them solidly.
A leg is not enough. The rat won’t pause.
Yeep! Yeep! it screams, and scrabbles, three-legged, back
into the trash, and I would feel a little bad
to kill something that wants to live
more savagely than I do, even if
it’s just a rat. My garden’s vanishing.
Perhaps I’ll merely plant more beans, though that
might mean more beautiful and hungry deer.
I’m sorry for the times I’ve driven
home past a black, enormous, twilight ridge.
Crested with mist, it looked like a giant wave
about to break and sweep across the valley,
and in my loneliness and fear I’ve thought,
O let it come and wash the whole world clean.
Forgive me. This is my favorite sin: despair—
whose love I celebrate with wine and prayer.
Our Father, thank you for all the birds and trees,
that nature stuff. I’m grateful for good health,
food, air, some laughs, and all the other things
I’m grateful that I’ve never had to do
without. I have confused myself. I’m glad
there’s not a rattrap large enough for deer.
While at the zoo last week, I sat and wept
when I saw one elephant insert his trunk
into another’s ass, pull out a lump,
and whip it back and forth impatiently
to free the goodies hidden in the lump.
I could have let it mean most anything,
but I was stunned again at just how little
we ask for in our lives. Don’t look! Don’t look!
Two young nuns tried to herd their giggling
schoolkids away. Line up, they called. Let’s go
and watch the monkeys in the monkey house.
I laughed, and got a dirty look. Dear Lord,
we lurch from metaphor to metaphor,
which is—let it be so—a form of praying.
I’m usually asleep by now—the time
for supplication. Requests. As if I’d stayed
up late and called the radio and asked
they play a sentimental song. Embarrassed.
I want a lot of money and a woman.
And, also, I want vanishing cream. You know—
a character like Popeye rubs it on
and disappears. Although you see right through him,
he’s there. He chuckles, stumbles into things,
and smoke that’s clearly visible escapes
from his invisible pipe. It makes me think,
sometimes, of you. What makes me think of me
is the poor jerk who wanders out on air
and then looks down. Below his feet, he sees
eternity, and suddenly his shoes
no longer work on nothingness, and down
he goes. As I fall past, remember me.