Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Inconvenient Truth about Obama

While I follow all the cartoons that Mr. Fish provides to Truthdig regularly, I have to confess that I tend to find them a hit-or-miss affair; and today turned out to support both sides of that coin. On the one hand we had his "21st Century Saint" image of Michael Jackson, which was as ambiguous as it was disquieting, leading one to wonder whether the artist was taking a position on Jackson, the circumstances surrounding his death, or the media treatment of the event or whether he was seeking out the most provocative image to associate with the entire affair (perhaps pour épater all those who tend to be self-righteous about the time they take to read Truthdig articles). On the other hand there was no mistaking the message behind his "Have a Nice Day" cartoon, since it was spelled out explicitly in the caption. A figure with a smiley-face is on a medical examining table receiving the following diagnosis from a physician:

The only cure is to stop predicating your blind trust of Barack Obama on the deep satisfaction you get from no longer being outraged by your gut-wrenching mistrust of George W. Bush.
I remember that I reacted to Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention by observing that "he was not going to try to win the White House by playing up to that sense of Secular Messianism that had infected so many of his supporters, if not the 'American way of life' in general;" but I cannot enumerate the number of instances of that aforementioned outrage that I encountered between the date of his nomination and Election Day whenever I would voice any hesitation over how I would cast my vote. Obama may have never wanted to be a "secular messiah" (let alone be elected on the pretense of being one); but that "blind trust" in Mr. Fish's caption laid the burden on him, whether he wanted it or not. If on Tuesday (ironically in the context of reading an article about Michael Jackson) I found myself railing (once again) about ours being a culture with no sense of history, today's cartoon reminded me of how, last March, I wrote about "our chronic cultural problem of evading (if not outright denying) our sense of reality."

Hard problems can only be solved by hard work. Obama believes this (as does Muhammad Yunus, whom I cited yesterday); and he dignifies us with the assumption that we share this conviction with him. Has our sense of moral character been so abased by the years of the Bush Administration that we cannot honor his assumption by rejecting blind faith in favor of clear and realistic thinking?

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