Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What I see in Obama's eyes 

"Time" magazine has a special issue out now, "uncovering the real Abe Lincoln" ("All-night binges! Drugs! Semi-naked interns! Sex romps in the Lincoln Bedroom!"... sorry, wrong presidency), including a contribution from the Illinois Democrat, Barack Obama.

His piece, "What I See in Lincoln's Eyes", contains some beautiful prose ("My favorite portrait of Lincoln comes from the end of his life. In it, Lincoln's face is as finely lined as a pressed flower. He appears frail, almost broken; his eyes, averted from the camera's lens, seem to contain a heartbreaking melancholy, as if he sees before him what the nation had so recently endured. It would be a sorrowful picture except for the fact that Lincoln's mouth is turned ever so slightly into a smile. The smile doesn't negate the sorrow. But it alters tragedy into grace."), but it attracted the attention mostly for this expression of Obama's humility:
In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat--in all this, he reminded me not just of my own struggles.
Unremarked upon, however, is this swipe at Obama's predecessors-to-be as Commanders-in-Chief (let's be pretty clear about it; the Illinois Senator has a brightly burning ambition to overtake Condi to become the first real black president):
For when the time came to confront the greatest moral challenge this nation has ever faced, this all too human man did not pass the challenge on to future generations. He neither demonized the fathers and sons who did battle on the other side nor sought to diminish the terrible costs of his war. In the midst of slavery's dark storm and the complexities of governing a house divided, he somehow kept his moral compass pointed firm and true.
Am I reading too much into it? Or is Obama shining the torch of the past to illuminate the struggles of the present (or, unkindly, scoring political points), and in the process castigates Bill Clinton for virtually ignoring Islamist terrorism on his watch, but bashes Bush even more for precipitating the Clash of Civilizations, not squaring with the public about the seriousness of the challenges ahead, and generally sucking as president at a time of external conflict and internal polarization?

Welcome Barack the triangulator.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?