Hark! A new day dawns. Shame is banished from the White House. Even Maureen Dowd, the man-independent New York Times pundit of political cynicism, sees respect restored to the White House by the heir of President Lincoln.
The day after the election, on the quad of the university where I teach, a young lady wore one of those t-shirts with a visage of The One that has grown ever larger, with profile turned increasingly upward towards the heavens, as the campaign went on. The latest fashion statement was emblazoned “Commander in Chief” in shiny gold. She gathered with a professor, also in an Obama t-shirt, and other similarly attired students as they blared rap music from a boom box. Seldom have we seen such entrepreneurial spirit in the name of the advancement of peace and justice through a new leader. Obama’s image, in various artistic renditions, on my freshman students’ t-shirts has been sending me messages for months now.
So anxious were the people for their leader that on election night, the young scholars of George Washington University clanged on the fence of the White House. They carried signs saying, “Evict Bush Now.” Young men bore large “O”s painted on their chests. Obama Girls Gone Wild bared their backs painted also with the “O.”
In humanities departments a celebratory atmosphere prevailed, with secretaries joining tenured faculty members who had led student groups for Obama, raising a toast.
Michelle Obama can finally be proud of her country.
Conservatives for reasons too numerous to mention are depressed, but there are some bright spots.
Will there be protests now at the White House? Against whom will college students spill their venom? Will they become well-mannered now and proceed to the White House respectfully, like ladies and gentlemen?
And what about their professors? How will they invigorate their class discussions centered on the eternal verities regarding race-class-gender without the jumping-off point about the Bush regime? What about training teachers in social justice? How will education schools train teachers to make their charges aware of the social injustice poisoning this country that emanates straight from the Capitol? Toward what power will students be taught to apply their “critical thinking” skills? Will the hegemony be dissolved, thereby ending 95% of the scholarship now produced?
What about creative writing forums? What will be the subject of poetry now? Can the resident long-haired creative writing professor introducing the poets at a reading say only good things about the president without getting boring? How will students prop up their self-esteem without asserting their intellectual superiority to the president of the United States? What outrages will students dramatize in plays? What about interpretive dances? How will over-mascara-ed, banjo-playing girl bands gain their creds of bravery without saying from a foreign stage that they are “ashamed” to be from the same state as their president?
What will happen to calendar manufacturers who rely on secretaries in humanities departments to display their keen wit by positioning the “Bushism-A-Day” calendars toward every student seeking a drop/add slip? What will professors post outside their office doors? Can they keep their “U.S. Out of Iraq Now” posters up? And what will they write their scholarly papers on? Once wealth is redistributed by a black president who is a favorite of feminists, what will be the focus of their papers? What will happen to the scholarly publishing industry? What about the bumper sticker business? What kinds of stickers will replace those festooning bumpers in faculty parking lots across the nation about a village in Texas missing its “idiot”?
What about the pundits? We all know that agreeable copy does not sell. So where will they get their raw material?
And what kind of news will reporters cover? Obama, three days after the election, was reported by the Associated Press to be comfortable talking about race, referring to himself jokingly as a “mutt.” First we heard him dare say that he does not look like the men on our money, and now something self-deprecating! Praise be!
But even Bible readers get bored with the wisdom of Solomon after a while and yearn for some apocalyptic drama. Pretty soon, the wise man’s quips about race will sound as boring as the recitation of ethnic heritage we hear from white people — you know, about being “Heinz’s 57 varieties.” The reporters of the MSM need spectacle, whether it be footage of an errant prison guard or of a gathering of pierced and tattooed concerned citizens in a city park speaking “truth to power.”
Speaking of which, who will be the next Cindy Sheehan? What will the public intellectuals on The View argue about? What will the Code Pink ladies do with their color-coordinated wardrobes? Will Grannies who spiced up their retirements by hanging “No Blood for Oil” banners on private businesses go home and rock in quiet contentment? How will yuppies marching in festival parades in their gentrified neighborhoods express their moral superiority if they do not have an effigy of the president?
When poets at poetry slams get up to the mic, around what kind of message will they arrange their expletives? At whom will they direct their rage? Maya Angelou was able to write only one poem praising a president before she ran out of material and had to get back to her regular gig, which means doing anything she wants, like hanging with Oprah, cutting a CD, and going on the college lecture circuit speaking out about the racism she experiences. Does she have more than one poem in her about our second black president? What material will late-night comedians use? Is Jon Stewart allowed to mock Barack Obama? What about Saturday Night Live? Are black comedians allowed to mock Obama without being called Uncle Toms?
I suspect it’s going to be quiet. Very quiet for a while.
But human nature being what it is, and with rebellion being the moral guiding force of college freshmen and the raison d’être of old hippies, there may be some criticism of our commander in chief. There have been rumblings already from Daily Kos. As Sarah Palin would say, “They’ll be itchin’ for it. You betcha!”
But with the coming Fairness Doctrine and Canadian-like tribunals on offensive speech by a new globally sensitive administration, they may not have the opportunity to engage in their usual primal scream therapy.
They can’t say we didn’t warn them.