“No-Drama Obama?” Your Mama
How the Calm That Brought Barack to the Presidency Has Been Replaced by a Drama that Outshines “The Real Housewives of New York City”
By Desk Jockey
New Yorkers enjoy such an embarrassment of theater—Chekhov, Arthur Miller, and Eugene O’Neill in this season alone—that we are equal parts spoiled, cynical, and dismissive.
Even a turkey like O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra, which manages to combine incest and the Civil War in one evening, doesn’t evoke more than a slightly arched eyebrow.
But for real drama, all New Yorkers need look no further than their plasma TVs nor switch between Wolf Blitzer, Bill O’Reilly, or Rachel Maddow. For on cable stations like these, and on news outlets across the Internet, you will find a seesawing of events which makes Obama-watching exciting. Far more exciting than anything Madonna and her boy-toy Jesus could cook up, anyway.
The calm before the storm
Back during BushWorld, an era which concluded a scant two months ago, the Democratic presidential primary pit La Passionara (a.k.a.Hillary Clinton) against the cool, calm, collected junior senator from Illinois. Many New Yorkers, inherent cynics that they are, were a bit wary of a young candidate who seemed to preach from a celestial elevation about “change we can believe in.” It struck many of us, Desk Jockey included, as a bit ZenMaster.
However, a fair fight’s a fair fight. And when Senator Obama prevailed over Hillary last August, we Democrats (no one is anything but a Democrat in New York) joined hands and collectively leaped on the bandwagon driven by Barack Obama. Of course, the political train wreck known as Sarah Palin definitely hastened our embrace of the soon-to-be president.
The subsequent debates with Republican Senator John McCain confirmed that Barack not only projected an image of cool competency but that he was firmly entrenched in the twenty-first century, while the wildly mercurial Arizona Senator was busy allying himself with a president (Theodore Roosevelt) straight from the nineteenth. September’s collapse of Lehman Brothers, as well as McCain’s statement that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” didn’t contribute to the Republican reputation for being the “daddy” party.
So, as we all know, the presidential election took place last November 4, Desk Jockey celebrated Obama’s victory at Times Square that evening, and when all the votes were counted, the problems of the country mysteriously vanished with the haze.
Since Senator Obama became President-elect Obama, the world has been on nothing less than a gigantic tilt-o-whirl ride.
Prominent officials were nominated to cabinet posts, and soon afterwards, were knocked ungraciously off those posts. (Desk Jockey is still wondering why former statesmen would give up a multi-million-dollar income to work in…government?)
A governor with a bad Beatle haircut tried to “sell” Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, and crassly used his gubernatorial powers to nominate a weak candidate who replaced the junior senator (and remains there by the skin of his teeth, at this writing.)
Most recently, an $800-plus-billion recovery bill was passed in Congress, but not before President Obama had to hop on a jet and barnstorm for it himself. Yes, he can…channel Harry S. Truman, that is.
About the only political candidate not facing any drama is the candidate who stirred up no lack of her own sturm-und-drang last year: Hillary Clinton. Poised between smiling Chinese and Korean women, she looks like someone who “won” after all.
Barack Wayne or Barack Cooper?
If President Obama has become the Drama Queen of 2009, then which Hollywood actor does he most resemble?
Is it Gary Cooper, who faced off against the gun slinger in High Noon with cool, calm collectedness? Or would it be Robert Redford in The Candidate, who upon winning office turned to his campaign aides and asked, “Now what do we do?”
Despite Republican attempts to shake his cool at every turn, Desk Jockey would argue that Barack Obama is the real-life Don Draper, the debonair advertising hero of “Mad Men,” the AMC television show heading into its third season. “Mad Men” has a fanatical following among certain New Yorkers, including Desk Jockey, who is a recovering ad man himself.
Don Draper is the ultimate Cool Cat, circa early ‘60s. He looks great in a suit, always says the right thing at the right time, constantly wiggles out of tight spots, and ladies, both married and unmarried, worship him. (Sound like any 44th president you know?)
Some undoubtedly will point out that Don Draper also cheats on his wife, asks his secretary to lie for him, disappears for weeks on end, and is so cruel to his half-brother, that the latter hangs himself in a hotel room.
Fortunately, President Obama shares none of these failings. But I am sure that with healthcare, Afghanistan, “bad banks,” toxic assets, and Rush Limbaugh all nipping at his heels, he will inspire a season of drama that exceeds anything we’ll see on Broadway this year.
On the other hand, “Waiting for Godot” opened April 30.
Desk Jockey writes the From the Wilds of Manhattan column.