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Recovering From Shock and Awe Syndrome

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Everybody I know is in a quandary about President-elect Obama's heavily establishment-connected cabinet choices. He will have to negotiate for the best he can get from the players who are actually still the players, an ironic twist on Rumsfeld's "going to war with the army you have." Maybe this explains why he has hired so many of them.

The question of whether he is working toward inclusiveness, or is just revealing at last his basically centrist political views (the "center" having been dragged kicking and screaming far to the right in the past administration) is itself significant. There are enormous differences in context between Obama's speakings and the howling intellectual wilderness our current administration occupies. They're always occupying instead of building. Almost anything the Cheney-Bush Machine says must be interpreted through the filter of fear, hatred and inevitability; almost all of Obama's words are pronounced in a context of inclusion, open dialog and courageous moonshot possibility.

Having spent the last couple of decades more or less continually aghast at the heartless brutality and reckless excesses of our purported leaders - just look at the dance the new guy has to perform to avoid the splatter from the Blagojevich implosion - I'm really having a hard time getting my head around the idea that President-elect Obama will be able to call forth something other than the same pervasive, parasitic cronyism that now passes for statespersonship in our halls of power.

The only thing that could possibly allow that, would be leadership, actual, authentic leadership. The kind rarely if ever seen, and all the more difficult to recognize in the Cheney and Bush No-Leadership Zone surrounding the Federal Government and trickling down into every nook and cranny of regulatory oversight or public wellbeing. The kind of leadership where you get out on the point and blaze the trail into the unknown and take the heat. That quality of leadership is more than merely what we all hope for now. It is what we have all bet the farm on. It may well be our only chance.

The shoes flying at the Current Occupant's head struck a deep chord in just about every corner of our shrinking, burning world. Here is the best joke I heard about this so far, by the great Roy Blount, Jr.: Why didn't Bush just stay down til the other shoe went by? Answer: he just didn't have time to do the math.

The entire world has stood and applauded the shoe-flinging. Saudi princes are bidding millions for just one of the leather missiles; Dana Parino, the current Placeholder's beleaguered mouthpiece, was reported to have gotten one as a "shoeveneer." Bush himself delivered a rarely un-mispronounced groaner about "having looked into his sole." The investigators said those boats were chopped up in little pieces looking for, no doubt, a WMD insole. The man who dared to launch this succinct expression of humanity's disdainful chagrin was reported to have been beaten bloody on the spot, and of course, tortured - yes, subjected to torture - and is probably slated to appear in the mother of all kangaroo courts.

As with all deeply poetic expressions, everybody gets it. No explanations needed when shoes fly. But the insanity that this gesture so eloquently protests doesn't stop. We're heading for a bad curve, a whole series of them, way too fast, and our new leader gives every impression that he is hoping to negotiate it without using the brakes. To an abused and frightened public, how can it appear otherwise?

Remember that recurring Peanuts strip where Charlie Brown is cajoled into trusting Lucy to hold the football, only to lose his dignity yet again? Who can believe Lucy won't jerk the ball away at the last second and laugh her head off as he slams onto the ground? But Charlie Brown just can't bring himself to be so ungenerous as to believe Lucy would make a sucker out of him forever. Before you say, "Well, he's a nice guy," consider that we have no power over anything we can't own. Charlie wants to be seen as a nice guy, but he just can't confront his own inner Lucy, so it's all a phony nice-guy act.

Well, I can't confront my own inner Dick Cheney. It's our own personal Undisclosed Locations I'm talking about. This isn't about blame, it's about responsibility. It's about growing up into cultural adulthood. Maybe this is the real choice we still face: choosing to speak to, and listen for, what we admire and respect, as if it is also part of the package in anybody we meet. Sure, we all have some slimy, disgusting stuff; couldn't that sort of cancel out, since everybody's contaminated?

It always seems to come down to this, and never seems to get any easier. But that doesn't make it impossible. It seems certain that if we do not make the attempt, if we maintain the iron defenses we have taught ourselves to prop up at all costs against being seen as the naked little emperors we are, even a whole Cabinet full of Obamas won't be able to make any difference at all.


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Peter Barus Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I'm an old Pogo fan. For some unknown reason I persist in outrage at Feudalism, as if human beings can do much better than this. Our old ways of life are obsolete and are killing us. Will the human race wake up in time? Stay tuned...
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