First, there was Barack Obama standing in front of the ancient Temple of Hercules in Amman, Jordan, telling the assembled press corps his ideas for peace in the Middle East. Behind him, sitting quietly and showing unusual deference, two other U.S. Senators, Republican Chuck Hagel and Democrat Jack Reed. The AP photo of that moment - a photo that floated across the Web and was reproduced in hundreds of newspapers around the globe - was impressive. Change was about to pounce on . . . History! Mine eyes have seen the Glory . . .!
And, then, of course, there was the required coverage of lost, twitchy, rheumy-eyed John McCain. Required not by some archaic "equal time" provision in FCC rules and regs. How quaint would that be? No, the requirement is self-imposed by management and is there solely to prevent CNN or MSNBC or the broadcast networks being accused by the right wing booger-pickers of See! We told you! There's your goddam liberal bias. Looky! They got cameras on Obama. Looky! Boy, they better show some McCain, too! Sumbitches!
So, the cabled nets switched to McCain. Oy. There he was. In a golf cart. A GOLF CART! And, who was the skinny, all sweatered-up banshee driving? Yikes! George H.W. Bush, his own mottled self. All squinty-eyed, his mouth open so he can breathe, that permanent sh*t-eating sneer plastered over his wrinkles. PAPPY BUSH! Driving Mister McCain! Around in circles! No, wait! Stop! Okay, go! Hey, this is fun! Wanna see me lay some rubber, John? Heh-heh. My boy likes you, ya' know. Heh-heh. Hey, watch me run over that guy's toes! Crush 'em. Heh-heh.
And before that Golden Moment? There was ol' John doing another of his "town hall" meet-ups. Several dozen white folks, this time herded into some Motel Six conference room in Rochester, N.H., (where??) staring into middle space, rounded up to sit as props and grin when John grins; frown when John frowns; clap when John makes some snarky remark about Obama; sneeze when John sneezes; fart when John farts. Whatever. And, there's ol' John, pacing back and forth in the center of it all, making those little flapping motions with his arms, scaring the small children present, accomplishing nothing, zero, following his tattered script, comme ci, comme ça, until all present want to claw out their own eyeballs from the tedium and the warm air coming from the loud, not working window air conditioner .
Meanwhile, back in The Middle East, Obama continues his walkabout, now with the Leaders of Israel!; now with an Honest-To-God KING!; yesterday, Generals! in Helicopters! Before that, applauding, cheering Soldiers! In uniform! And, before that? Private Meetings with Iraq's leaders who then emerge and endorse the Obama Troop Withdrawal Plan and Timetable. TIMETABLE! Not some goddam withdrawal horizon, whatever semantic horseshit that might be. And, tomorrow, who knows? Will the Israelis and the Palestinians - at the sight of the Mighty Obama striding across the HOLY LAND - fall into each other's arms and shriek their mutual love and forgiveness and lower their eyes and whisper their shame at the way they've all been behaving for the past six goddam DECADES???? Huh? Will that happen?
Meanwhile, back in Snoresville, N.H., ol' John is telling his rapidly decaying audience that it took France five years to build a nuclear power plant and complained that in the United States it took 15 years or more. Bodies started to fall out of chairs. Children began to wail with hunger and wet diapers. Ol' John continues. He says that Americans did not readily accept France as a role model, saying self-mockingly, "As you know we always want to imitate the French." Someone - a short order cook? a Safeway manager? - offers him a chunk of Brie. He declines. Too close to supper.
And then it comes. The coup de grace. Fox News cuts away from ol' John's mind-battering speech about France and cheese (was it cheese?) and Obama not having real leadership ability like ol' John does, to cover the rescue of a bear cub wounded in a California fire and nicknamed Lil’ Smokey. The cramped audience runs for the exits.
Back in The Real World, the world of Challenge and Leadership and Future Presidents and Massive Ancient Ruins and Generals and Kings and Prime Ministers and absolutely No Farts or sneezes or twitchy, chicken-like arm flapping, Senator Barack Obama continued to stride across the Middle East, without a helmet, and no body armor, the desert opening before him, while the winds of time - Old Time, Biblical Time - whistles through his close-cropped hair.