Friday, October 17, 2008

Funny McCain, Funny Obama

It was heart-warming to be reminded of the old John McCain at yesterday's Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. He was funny, charming, effusive, self-deprecating, and warmly generous to his opponent. After watching his hilarious performance, I had a moment of anxiety for Barack Obama, who was to follow McCain at the podium. Would he be able to relax his seriousness and self-discipline for long enough to be just funny? Would he risk losing political points for failing to come up to the standard McCain had set?

I need not have worried. Obama proved to be an entertaining stand-up comedian. He was relaxed, comfortable, ready to poke fun at his own overblown messianic image. His material was first rate, his timing and delivery flawless. He had Ellie and me in those proverbial stitches as we watched. And he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. What a wonderful release from the nastiness of the campaign. It was a pleasure to watch both of these men laughing out loud and with unfeigned delight, for a change, at each other's barbs.

This was one debate where it didn't matter who came out on top--and where both sides won.

(On the other hand... if you pause for long enough to analyze the press photograph above, does it not offer a distressingly regressive image of our current political and social institutions? I'm looking at the picture--ahem, excuse the pointed-headed aside--"deconstructively," with three solid rows of participants, all powerful, all wealthy--and all male!--all reveling in their own importance, chuckling comfortably in the knowledge of their own position of security. This image of unassailable temporal power protects, at its core, the medievally red-robed cardinal, the very symbol of--also male!--spiritual power. In all, a perfect and deeply disturbing evocation of the power base of Western civilization. I'm just happy to see that single, stand-out black face edging in on the company. While Hillary, we know from other pictures and television footage, is off somewhere at the periphery. The picture speaks more eloquently than words.)


carly said...

from the desk of the "taoist" who also likes Zen:

Simplicity of character is the most natural result of profound thought.

Chinese proverb

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation's who you are.

Chinese proverb

The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.

Zen proverb

citizen of the world said...

Wealthy, powerful, male and also overwhelmingly white.

roger said...

i'd like to deconstruct more than the picture, tho your observation seems to me not really a deconstruction, rather an accurate description -- thoroughly denotative, if i may mangle the language a bit for effect. i'd also suggest that the cardinal is an embodiment of male power as well as a symbol. i left out spiritual purposely.

PeterAtLarge said...

Carly, great quotes, all! I particularly like #2...

Citizen, yup, white, male...! We've got it made.

Roger, I can see why you'd want to omit the "spiritual." The Catholic church does wield far too much temporal power. I recall the defeat of John Kerry...

Doctor Noe said...

I did not know that Obama was rich.

I'm not even sure if he's black, but he is black enough for McCain to play the race card whenever he can, and for his veep to play the 60s radical card whenever she Swift-boatingly can.