15 December 2013

Barack Obama delivers a post-eulogy soliloquy



[IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE CALLED HUMILITY]

I slipped in Johannesburg.  No, I am talking about shaking hands with Raul Castro of Cuba.  I am not talking about taking selfies during the memorial service of Nelson Mandela or flirting with Helle Thorning Schmidt or annoying Michelle.  Shaking hands with Raul was not only the right thing to do it was the least I could do as President of a nation that has besieged Cuba for more than half a century not to mention that my predecessors have ordered the assassination of Raul’s brother Fidel on many occasions.  Fidel, after all, was Mandela’s friend long, long, long before the great man (Mandela; Fidel is great too, of course) even knew I existed.

The other stuff caught on camera…well, one might say I slipped, but in the larger slippage context that was nothing.   I made a mockery of my rhetoric with those antics, sure.  It was, all things considered, quite disrespectful and even disgraceful.   And yet, it was the eloquence and not the post-eloquence horsing around that really did me in. 

I slipped when I hailed Mandela’s humility.  Mandela once said ‘I’m not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.’  I slipped when I recalled that he admitted freely to imperfection.

I slipped when I said that like Martin Luther King he, Mandela, would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed and the moral necessity of racial justice.  I slipped when I threw in Mahatma Gandhi into my script.   

I slipped when I recalled that he once said ‘prisoners cannot enter into contracts.’ 

I slipped most of all when I said ‘He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books but in our own lives as well.’  I made it worse when I said that Mandela prompts reflection, makes me ask ‘how well have I applied his lessons to my own life?’  And I painted myself into a corner by talking about justice, pace, reconciliation, poverty, inequality etc. 

Now it’s all said.  For a while the media will play with that hand-shake and those selfies.  Sooner or later, I will be asked to put my money where my mouth is.  I mean, I don’t believe a word I say so it would be silly to expect me to take my own advice. I will do my redemption number only if I am pushed against the wall. 

Everyone knows that I am not a saint and that I am not even one that keeps trying. I do devilry both at home and abroad.  I don’t say I am a saint but neither do I admit to devilry. No, not even to a teeny weeny impishness.  I like the moral high horse and I ride it because that particular beast is a media construct.   Need I say that the new golden rule is that those who control media make saints as well as devil.  I am on the right side. No apologies.  Now that I’ve slipped, I guess I’ll have to be saying ‘sorry’ at every turn. 

Oppressed?  Justice? I know how to spell those words.   I guess that won’t be enough now.  As for Gandhi, the man made his mark with ‘non-violence’.  So far I’ve dispensed so much death and destruction that I don’t have the moral authority even to utter that Indian’s name.  Shame. 
Prisoners and jailers. I am a prisoner of circumstances.  Rhetoric notwithstanding my presidential term can be called ‘Same old, same old’.  The only difference to the world is that I varnish my lie better than my predecessors did. 

Now I have to apply ‘The Lessons’ to my own life and by extension, considering that I am President of the USA, to my own country, or rather its foreign policy.   No more drone attacks.  No more phone-tapping.  No more capitalism.  Damn! 


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