Journalist Chris Smith is impatient for Obama to take office. He’s sick of that long countdown to Bush’s final day as President, even though the numbers have now become so small, and the clear and brilliant light can be viewed at the end of that long dark tunnel. In this, Smith probably has a lot of company.
Smith’s remedy? Move the date of Obama’s office-taking forward. Time for preparation? Obama don’t need no steenking preparation—or at least he’s had enough time for it already.
And what does Smith think we need? Why, Obama in charge, that’s what, and we need him now.
It’s probably not necessary to point out that this sort of thinking—the idea that Obama will magically soothe us, heal us, kiss our foreheads and make it all better—is part of a dangerous trend originally noted when Obama first became a candidate. I wrote “thinking” in the previous sentence, but it’s really more of a feeling that Obama will fix it. Or, if he can’t fix it, at least he’ll talk about it in a way that doesn’t involve abominations such as “nucular. And even if he doesn’t talk about it right, we’ll all experience such a sense of relief about his mere presence that maybe that will be enough. Because feeling good is a major part of what this is all about.
The idea of a magical transformation to be wrought by Obama as President is not just a strange characteristic invested in him by his followers and supporters. It is an idea he consciously and systematically fostered during his campaign—in fact, you might say it pretty much was the core of his campaign. So it’s not surprising that the raised expectations of supporters such as Smith have now reached a fever pitch after all the interminable waiting. And delayed gratification doesn’t appear to be the strong suit of Obamaphiles.
There are two possibilities for their reaction when Obama actually takes office and harsh, fickle, complex reality intrudes on the dream. Either he will disappoint his followers when they understand that he cannot work the unrealistic transformations they expect and yearn for, or they are so in thrall that they will forgive him everything and just be happy this cool, liberal, smooth dude is in there at last. That just might be enough.
In the meantime: