Monday, November 17, 2008

Not So Woebegon, After All

Sitting on Top of the World

Wednesday 12 November 2008

by: Garrison Keillor, The Chicago Tribune

Be happy, dear hearts, and allow yourselves a few more weeks of quiet exultation. It isn't gloating, it's satisfaction at a job well done. He was a superb candidate, serious, professorial but with a flashing grin and a buoyancy that comes from working out in the gym every morning. He spoke in a genuine voice, not senatorial at all. He relished campaigning. He accepted adulation gracefully. He brandished his sword against his opponents without mocking or belittling them. He was elegant, unaffected, utterly American, and now (Wow) suddenly America is cool. Chicago is cool. Chicago!!!

We threw the dice and we won the jackpot and elected a black guy with a Harvard degree, the middle name Hussein and a sense of humor - he said, "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher." The French junior minister for human rights said, "On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes." When was the last time you heard someone from France say they wanted to be American and take a bite of something of ours? Ponder that for a moment.

The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos, and instead we have us a 47-year-old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back. He'll be the first president in history to look really good making a jump shot. He loves his classy wife and his sweet little daughters. At the same time, he knows pop music, American lit and constitutional law. I just can't imagine anybody cooler.

It feels good to be cool, and all of us can share in that, even sour old right-wingers and embittered blottoheads. Next time you fly to Heathrow and hand your passport to the man with the badge, he's going to see "United States of America" and look up and grin. Even if you worship in the church of Fox, everyone you meet overseas is going to ask you about Obama, and you may as well say you voted for him because, my friends, he is your line of credit over there. No need anymore to try to look Canadian.

And the coolest thing about him is the fact that back in the early '90s, given a book contract after the hoo-ha about his becoming the First Black Editor of The Harvard Law Review, instead of writing the basic exploitation book he could've written, he put his head down and worked hard for a few years and wrote a good book, an honest one, which, since his rise in politics, has earned the Obamas enough to buy a nice house and put money in the bank. A successful American entrepreneur.

Our hero who galloped to victory has inherited a gigantic mess. The country is sunk in debt. The Treasury announced it must borrow $550 billion to get the government through the fourth quarter, more than the entire deficit for 2008, so he will have to raise taxes and not only on bankers and lumber barons. His promise never to raise the retirement age is not a good idea. Whatever he promised the Iowa farmers about subsidizing ethanol is best forgotten at this point. We may not be getting our National Health Service cards anytime soon. And so on and so on.

So enjoy the afterglow of the election awhile longer. We all walk taller this fall. People in Copenhagen and Stockholm are sending congratulatory e-mails - imagine! We are being admired by Danes and Swedes! And Chicago becomes The First City. Step aside, San Francisco. Shut up, New York. The Midwest is cool now. The mind reels. Have a good day.


Guenveur in Kent said...

My brother sent me this the other day. I love it. Gk has had some fine, sharp things to say about the idiot in chief over the last 7 1/2 years.
In a way, one feels a bit sorry for the wits, since their main target will be back in Texas. Of course, he should be impeached, so maybe he'll be back for more.
I hope your hacking has ceased.

Knitting Auntie (aka Sharon) said...

"For the first time in a long time I am proud to be an American." I know people who are very nervous about Michelle Obama and her "past", I can understand why she said something similar to what I just said above. I am a bit older than Mrs Obama, not much and white, so I guess I don't have the baggage that she has had to carry, but I can see why she said what she did. Our president elect gives me HOPE and that is what we need right now, especially coming on this season of thankfulness and Hope. You said it so nicely, and even though I am sure the battle will be tough, I feel like we have the right man to lead us. What a change huh?

SallyB said...

I spent yesterday slowly devouring the post-election issues of Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Reports. All of them spoke glowingly of our new President elect, going so far, in Time's case of referring to him as a Prince who will complete the work of a King who started it 40 years ago but didn't live to see "the promised land".

I look at Obama's picture and I smile. A BIG smile. A HOPEFUL smile. A smile of jubilation and exhilaration that we can finally turn this sinking ship around and guide it safely back to port. And what's so amazing is that the jubilation I am feeling is so widespread - have you ever seen, over and over again, crowds turning out to hear a candidate that number in the tens and even hnundreds of thousands? Have you ever seen what Time referred to as "Extreme Democracy" in action? Can you believe that it took this long for our country to WAKE UP and take it back from the extremist right wingers who've run the show for the past 7½ years?

Now it is incumbent on US, the PEOPLE, to stay involved, engaged and active in our government. Never again must we turn it over to someone who, in condescending tones, tells us that he's "The Decider" and that as far as he's concerned, we're irrelevant. Never again.

Ms. Jan said...

Garrison has a way with words, doesn't he? Thanks for a Monday morning day brightener. Now we just need to get behind him, buckle down and clean up this mess!

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

I've really been surprised at how outspokenly politically GK has gotten in the last several years. Funny, though, regarding Bush. Sad too.

I am not comfortable with all the praise being heaped on Obama. Its just me to not want to see praise before action.

But I've been reading a lot of opinion pieces and it seems to me that everybody is putting forth their own expectations and expecting too much. Too high expectations will lead to disappointment in some quarters. Even the Kenyans are expecting their standard of living to go up. True.

But he has the ability to inspire and he does seem very thoughtful, traits that have been lacking. So I am hoping and especially praying, that he does especially well.

Little Mysteries said...

Its a great article. There is so much hope and a huge shift of optimism now.
PS: I hope you are feeling much better.

louise said...

I respect other people's political opinions. It's wonderful to live in a country where we (still) have free speech. I just ask that folks stop bashing this country and it's leaders. It's so small minded.

Lynn E said...

As I am Canadian I watched the election with hope. I made my children listen to the news, read the paper telling them that this was history in the making. I wish that we had leadership here that inspired so many citizens with hope and desire for change. Its a great article.

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ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

So sorry to see that you are being commented on by a certain person who shall not be named. These comments show up in my email.