Obama speech to next generation

I think of myself as a deeply cynical person.  Especially when it comes to politics.  The newspapers and websites were mentioning something about Obama crying, and already the media sunk its teeth in, trying to amp the thing up into some kind of emotional hyperbole – either Obama was extending a moment of rare emotion (read as “he cried!!!”) to some kind of shaming of the thing (“a man’s crying”), even inadvertantly so (such as a news team saying that the president showed real emotion, while captioning the thing as “look, he cried”) – in other words, the media’s emphasis was on a single moment and they tore it to pieces.  A caption of the thing shouldn’t be “look, he cried,” it should be “the president sincerely thanks his young campaign supporters” or “the president expresses hope for the next generation’ – i.e. deemphasis on the tears.  It’s sucking the meaning out of a thing, by hyping up that thing.

But there’s me being bitter and cynical, mostly lashing at the media.  Anyway, through them, I hunted down the original video on YouTube.  Because, you know, I like original sources and seeing things in context.  and, actually, was blown away by this speech.  Something, perhaps, the media, in it’s land of hype, couldn’t begin to capture.

My reaction to the video was this, Obama is a great man.  Admitting this thought, even general support for Obama, I know will start the flood of hate mail in… But I’m thinking more about just this moment.  Forget policy, forget issues, forget Guantanomo, Syria, Affordable Care Act etc.  In this moment, I feel, the president of the United States expressed real emotion, real gratitude and earnest hope, let himself be vulnerable, and just spoke as a real human being.  This is not a politician who had affairs, this isn’t a sneaky paranoid Nixon, a buffoonish Bush, the scores of other presidents who had scandals, and so on….the career politicians who are in the business of preserving their power.  At least, in this moment, Obama was a real person, with real feelings.  Not to mention the guts it would take to allow that to be seen, given the image presidents must present.  It makes me think that Obama hasn’t had some big scandal, nor has he had a personal scandal.  He’s tried to push the Dream Act and the Jobs Bill.  (There are some major failures – like an executive order waiving habeas corpus in America’s apparently eternal “we’re at war so we can do whatever, but we’re not technically calling it a war” status.  among other things)  anyway, I was touched by this moment.  I didn’t think politicians had emotions, much less actually cared about helping people.  For a moment, it allowed a break in my cynicism.  and I really hope that when history books rewrite this era, that Obama is written as a decent human being.


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