Reading Haiku in Obamaland
I decided recently to take a much-needed break from my incessant reading of political commentary and turn to something completely different for a change, harkening instead to a limpid, tranquil, and resolutely poetic world. What better reprieve from the troubling news of the day than an immersion in Japanese haiku? And so I found myself leafing through an out-of-print issue of Poetry Tokyo (No. 5), appreciating the delicate technique and deft perceptual subtleties of contemporary Japanese poet Tohta Kaneko, a master of the craft. The idyll didn’t last long. I was shortly jolted back to reality when I came across an entry in a suite called “12 Haikus”:
A red sun
In the child’s drawing —
A snow storm outside
No help for it. The poet may have limned a benign and consoling picture of domestic shelter, but the image that came instantly to mind was Barack Obama, a veritable child on the geopolitical stage, dabbling in bright crayon colors while the world beyond is beset by tempests and convulsions. Was French President Nicolas Sarkozy right when he portrayed Obama as dangerously naive, a man living in a virtual world that does not touch upon the real world even at a tangent? Obama’s recent waffling speech at the UN, touting nuclear disarmament while Iran and North Korea are racing to the nuclear finish line, surely justifies the assumption.
I returned to my reading but another haiku in the sequence gave me further pause:
A slug carrying
Serene sunlight on his back —
A hen nearby
Obama is no slug; nevertheless, despite his nimble rhetoric and whirlwind activity, there is something sluggish about his thinking as he lugs his sunny vision of planetary harmony hither and yon while the predator is poised to devour him whole.
I give it one more try, wanting to avoid the specter of obsession with the enigmatic and disquieting figure who occupies the White House. But the next haiku is no less kind and even crueler in reinforcing my apprehensions:
Deep in the forest
He’s digging away
My secret sanctuary
And that was it for my leisurely encounter with Japanese poetry. For it occurred to me that Obama may not be the naif that Sarkozy has depicted, someone who wishes to do good but invariably does harm, at best a curate’s egg of a president. Rather, Obama may be something far more disturbing, a palpable and deliberate threat to the nation he purportedly governs, as many others have come to believe. Obama seems deeply to resent the country which nourished him and allowed for his undeniable success. We are preoccupied with the menace of Islamic terrorism and indeed a bomb plot, described as “one of the biggest threats since 9/11,” was only recently uncovered and thwarted. But the real, long-term threat to the United States, I am now beginning to suspect, is not any particular terrorist per se; it is not even Osama. The real, long-term threat to the United States is Obama. Do not be deceived by the BS.