Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snake Oil and Other Delicacies

I need to warn you right up front.  If you don’t like political commentary, you might want to just skip this one. 
Did you watch President Obama’s Photo op last night?  Every major network and all the dedicated schmooze channels carried it.  You’d have had to go over to Cartoon Network or the Food Channel to miss it.
It was a well timed, eloquently crafted, carefully punctuated and paced soliloquy delivered by America’s finest living snake oil salesman, Barack H. “Barry” Obama.  And I mean that with all sincerity, if with tongue placed carefully in cheek, but I believe that by having exercised my right and obligation to participate in the American Political process each year since I turned eighteen, by voting whenever the opportunity presented itself, I have likewise earned the right to exercise my first amendment right to free speech and call it as I see it.  ‘Ike’ was the occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when I was born, and my first memory of politics was watching the Nixon-Kennedy debates on our small black and white television. 
This magnificently timed photo op was a beautiful thing to behold.
I watched it on CBS where, whether by choice or mandate, the network made certain that photographs of the victims were splashed on the screen whenever their names were mentioned, even to the point of reducing the size of the image of the President in the process.  It was a thing of beauty to behold.  Truly!  Every emotion packed moment from Michelle Obama wiping a tear from her cheek – the camera just happened to be looking her way, mind you,  - to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ husband hugging the young men who tackled the shooter – live and close up.  What a moment!
Now, to be sure, I’m not saying that Mrs. O was stunting for the cameras, or that Gabby’s husband was insincere in his appreciation.  I believe that was all genuine and not scripted in the least.  I applaud these individuals and mourn with those who lost loved ones in this heinous attack, or had loved ones injured.  This is America, and I want to believe that we don’t do things this way.  Nor do I maintain that the Commander in Chief is without genuine emotion in this matter.
But make no mistake – last night’s event was a contrived photo op to help a President who is slipping in the poles like a dancer at the Blue Diamond ‘Gentlemen’s Club’, look more Presidential.  And it was very well played.
Excellent speech writers, and probably the best political delivery since Jack Kennedy uttered the timeless words,  And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”  Only Ronald Reagan has been better at it in my lifetime.
And frankly, I think the only differences between last night’s show and similar ‘Presidential’ appearances by his predecessor, another snake oil salesman named George W. “Dub’ya” Bush (think 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina), was the timing.  This President’s political advisors ‘get’ good timing.  In fact, all that was missing last night was the presence on the stage of Jessie Jackson declaring that this is all part of a carefully contrived plot assembled by God and Dub’ya to rid the Congress of people of color.  And I’m inclined to believe that had ‘Gabby’ been Shirley Chisolm or Barbara-Rose Collins, the Reverend Jesse would have been there as well, hanging on the coattails of another tragedy mugging for the cameras.  In the best possible way, of course.
No, really.
I mourn with our nation for those lost in this senseless tragedy.  I weep with America for the lives of those still hanging in the balance.  I pray for my President and our nation.
Let me be clear.  I’m not a fan of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Nor was I of his predecessor.  In fact I feel sort of let down with the whole bunch of them since Tricky Dick, the first for whom I actually voted, turned out to be a crook, setting the bar for all snake oil salesmen who would follow.  Well, Okay – I did like Ron Reagan.  Now he could deliver a line!
It was, if nothing else, good show.  The quickly graying leader of our nation did indeed look and sound both sincere and presidential.
Besides.  I was fresh out of snake oil anyway.
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