I don’t know if anyone else actually got all the way through that 17,000-word New Yorker tribute to Barack Obama, but I endured to the laughable end.
And I’m glad I did.
It took me that long to discover the piece is actually a parody – albeit probably an unintended one.
In the interest of guarding your time, I’ll cut to the chase.
The penultimate paragraph reveals what could only be described as a self-serving racial prophecy by Obama.
Well, maybe there is one alternative – a demonstration by Obama of profound historical ignorance.
Here is the deliciously amusing excerpt: “‘I think we are born into this world and inherit all the grudges and rivalries and hatreds and sins of the past,’ he said. ‘But we also inherit the beauty and the joy and goodness of our forebears. And we’re on this planet a pretty short time, so that we cannot remake the world entirely during this little stretch that we have.’ The long view again. ‘But I think our decisions matter,’ he went on. ‘And I think America was very lucky that Abraham Lincoln was president when he was president. If he hadn’t been, the course of history would be very different. But I also think that, despite being the greatest president, in my mind, in our history, it took another 150 years before African-Americans had anything approaching formal equality, much less real equality. I think that doesn’t diminish Lincoln’s achievements, but it acknowledges that at the end of the day we’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.’” (Emphasis added.)
Now let me see …
The War Between the States ended in 1865. Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. But, according to Obama, if he is quoted accurately by David Remnick in this adoring opus, black Americans have still not achieved “anything approaching formal equality, much less real equality” and won’t until next year.
That will, in case you didn’t notice, take place under the sixth year of Obama’s presidential watch.
There it is: Obama himself will usher in the racial millennium in 2015. He’s announced it.
Forget the Voting Rights Act. Forget the work of Martin Luther King Jr. Forget the Great Society. It was all for naught. Obama will be responsible for the great reconciliation of the races over the next 365 days.
Now, if this strikes you as a little narcissistic and self-important on Obama’s part, please consider his closing words in the last paragraph of Remnick’s encomium: “A little while later, as we were leaving the Oval Office and walking under the colonnade, Obama said, ‘I just wanted to add one thing to that business about the great-man theory of history. The president of the United States cannot remake our society, and that’s probably a good thing.’ He paused yet again, always self-editing. ‘Not probably,‘ he said. ‘It’s definitely a good thing.’”
I don’t know whether Obama added that final statement because he realized the pomposity of his previous comment. I doubt he would be that reflective. Certainly Remnick didn’t see it that way. After all, he didn’t even note Obama’s arithmetic problem – 1865 plus 150 equals 2015.
But this is the stuff of “Saturday Night Live” skits.
Does Obama really believe that a nation could elect a black president in 2008 while black Americans had still not achieved “anything approaching formal equality, much less real equality”? Perhaps he does. Perhaps he thinks he’s that special – a monumental personality who could overcome the racist tendencies of a country by getting elected to the highest office in the land, a nation not even close to approaching equality in theory or reality.
I suspect he really believes his own special unique combination of magnetism, charm, persuasiveness, ability, wisdom and dynamism was the missing component over the last 150 years in reaching America’s multicultural utopian destiny.
What do you think – parody or prophecy?
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