After watching Barack Obama’s victory speech in South Carolina last night, I felt like that poor embarrassed girl, looking around a strange bedroom for her underwear at 7:00 AM, her suitor having left for the office or an early lacrosse game, leaving a Yoplait and an apple on the nightstand with a note, “Had to run. Nice meeting you. Call me sometime, and please lock up when you leave.”
I pride myself on being a fairly cynical political observer. I was 21 and I still didn’t buy into Jesse Jackson’s charade in 1988 when my classmates were manning his tables and calling for a Jesse Jackson-Patricia Schroeder “dream ticket”, and I just shook my head in disappointment when I saw professors I respected standing in the front rows at his rallies shouting along with the “Up with hope! Down with dope!” call-and-response chants.
I don’t know how this upstart seduced me last night. I took leave of my better instincts. I sat there and watched him spin his mellifluous words about “the politics that uses religion as a wedge and patriotism as a bludgeon, a politics that tells us we have to think, act and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us…We are here to tonight to say, that this is not the America we believe in!” Good God, George Bush couldn’t even read all of that, much less speak it.
That’s it right there. That’s what you get after nearly eight years of “is our children learning?” and “we need to make the pie higher.” You’re susceptible to those charms. Coherence becomes sexy.
Judging by the crowds, the exit polling, and the “Republican party leaders” allegedly sending breathless text messages to Joe Scarborough’s Blackberry suggesting that Obama speaks real good and they’d not only let him near their country, but maybe even their daughters (maybe), I’m not the only one to take leave of my once-dependable jaded restraints. After more than seven years of listening to a bellicose Lennie Smalls represent us on the world and national stage, it’s refreshing to hear a President string together sentences with cadence and proper grammar and passion. Sure, there are Republicans who can speak, but it’s also a breath of fresh air not to listen to heartfelt oratory being deployed in the interests of keeping coupled homosexuals 150 yards away from Chuck E. Cheese, or what tiny brown-skinned civilization we need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bomb back into the Mesozoic Age, even though our schools are in ruins and our children are in danger of growing up to sound like their President.
The Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton opponents have a valid argument. I was 14 the last time neither of them was in the White House. Not that I’m not nostalgic for the 1990s like many, but it gives me pause whether I want to spend the campaign and the next four or eight years listening to Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge spinning their Greatest Hits collections. After a decade of that I don’t care whether Hillary really did have Vince Foster murdered or not. Maybe she had her reasons.
Moreover, it would be great sport watching right wing talk radio flail about trying to make fun of a Barack Obama-Evan Bayh ticket. If all you have are Obama’s ears and Bayh’s corn-fed Midwestern Life & Casualty Rep blandness, that’s a pretty shallow well. Barack’s cocaine use? Yawn. The “Barack Hussein Obama” schtick is already more tired than Fred Thompson. And the madrasas charges have the legs of a sick, aging greyhound.
Most of the Limbaughs and Michael Savages and Glenn Becks aren’t funny on the best of days even when there’s more low-hanging fruit in front of them than they can fill five baskets with. The humor gene simply doesn’t do well in a Republican body, as Dennis Miller proved when he started marching with the Neo-Cons. It needs Shrillary and abortion-on-demand and gays-in-the-military and the Arkansas Mafia and John Kerry windsurfing and voting for the $87 million before he voted against it to survive in such an oppressive environment. Its chances are bleak in an Obama campaign or administration.
We’ll see how many more millions Barack seduces between now and Ultra-Bodacious, Did-You-See-The-Fucking-Size-Of-That Tuesday next week. But one thing is clear after this week: After decades on the prowl, the Clinton Sexy is dead in its trousers.