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A Change We Can Believe

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Meditations on Barack Obama and his Vision for America
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    A Change We Can Believe In. Or is it?  As some of you may have realized, l like Barack Obama. I have read and watched most of his speeches since he assumed office, fawning over the turns of his phrases, the cadence of his speeches, and the thunder-ripping quality of his voice. To show my eerie fetish for his speeches, in 2009 I enrolled in a short course on Rhetoric, read several books on creative writing, with the sole aim of reading him with the unfiltered eyes of a critic.  To be sure, there is a racial element to my devotion. As the first black President, Barack Obama represents the hopes and fears of my race, an ever-present beacon reminding us that upward mobility is possible, that success is not attained by merely acting out the script of our genes or the color of our skin. However, something more than race attracts me to Obama  –   the powerful force of his being. Someone commented, lamely, about Obama’ s being a great orator on the Facebook page of Nathaniel Adjei Ky  eremeh, a friend of mine. “T hat sounds like saying Beethoven was a great composer,” Nat replied. Saying that Obama is a great orator is surely an unforgivable understatement. Even his avowed critics know better not to challenge him to a debate.  After his election victory in 2008, many felt he cut a Godfather figure, a redeeming savior to clean up the world’s mess. In a 2009 movie starring Obama as a Superman, the larger-than-life hero hovers over buildings and railways to rescue victims. The front cover of a 2009 edition of The Economist Magazine featured Obama with the trappings of a god, a halo around his head, his steely look betraying an all-knowing, omniscient resolve. And I was not alone in believing that the presidency of Barack Obama would bring about seismic changes in the world  –   a change we can believe in . “People imagine me to have a joystick that allows me to manipulate precise outcomes,” Obama told David Remnick, a New Yorker reporter. However, five years down the line, a November Edition of the Economist magazine carried a sinking Obama on its cover with the title, “The Man Who Used to Walk on Water.” With three years to leave office, The President is now coming into terms with the failures of humanity in general, and his own fumbles in particular. Every day, he realizes that his own vision and ideals exist in unresolved tension with the stark, hush realities of this world. He may device policies, but their passage gets blocked by the gridlock on Capitol Hill. He wound down troops from Iraq, only to  witness simultaneous uprisings and militant Islamism everywhere else. The HealthCare Reform, his signature policy initiative he spent his first four years battling to have it enacted, got botched at the initial rollout.  The world is a stage. We are merely actors. And none knows that better than Obama himself. “I think we are born into this world and inherit all the grudges and rivalries and hatreds and sins of the past,” noted Obama  in a recent New Yorker article. “  A nd we’re on this planet a pretty short time, so that we cannot remake the world entirely during this little stretch that we have. But I think our decis ions matter…At the end of the day we’re part of a long  -running story. We just try to get our paragraph ri ght.”     
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