I heard the news on the radio. Osama Bin Laden was dead. The station broadcast President Obama’s address to the nation on the subject. My immediate reaction was “Who is this man?”
The Barack Obama making this announcement was not the man who I voted for two and a half years earlier. Obama was the first politician in my lifetime who gave me hope that someone intelligent, someone interesting, someone who wouldn’t sell out to big business and the military industrial complex the first chance he had could come to power. This speech was another nail in that coffin of hope. Using a phony presidential voice he bragged about authorizing the operation that killed Bin Ladin.
This brought a wave of celebration around America about the death of a hated warmonger. We were much more civilized about it than the barbaric Middle Easterners would have been if they’d killed one of our leaders. Instead of chanting and dancing in the streets we merely tweeted “Happy Bin Laden’s Dead Day!”
America deserved this victory. We got the guy who took credit for masterminding 3.497 deaths on 9/11 and it only took 6,000 dead American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to get him.
President Obama was the man who wanted some credit for satisfying our blood lust, even though he won our vote by running as the man who opposed war, the candidate who would be the bridge of peace between West and Middle East. I was depressed over the fact he put on a mask during his campaign and was now showing himself to be another crony for “the man” celebrating how if you get in America’s way we will kill you and throw a party afterwards.
But by some weird coincidence I got home and saw the below video from the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Please watch it if you haven’t yet.
Obama if nothing else proves himself to have brilliant comic timing. His predecessor, George W. Bush did too, but that was more as the punchline. Obama in this roasting of his enemies manages to keep a straight face that would make Stephen Colbert proud as he delivers some mighty quips to many of his political enemies. He showed the intelligence and backbone in the face of idiocy that I hoped he would. During the 2008 presidential debates while Senator McCain tried to not answer the questions and sling mud, Obama refused to dumb down his responses and spoke bluntly and intelligently. But that candidate disappeared soon after inauguration as he sent more troops to war and sent federal money to banking institutions instead of schools.
But watching his witty, knowing performance from Saturday, makes me hopeful that the real mask was the one Obama put on to announce Bin Laden’s death. He knows one evil man’s murder won’t solve any of the world’s problems. He already has the smart person’s vote, but to be victorious in 2012, he must campaign as the mighty Avenger, Captain America, for the lowest common denominator’s ballot.
But now that I think about the timeline, how he was playing a clown only hours before ordering the siege that could have cost American soldiers their lives and did cost an innocent woman’s life, makes me wonder how many masks he has.
Is it enough to take solace that even if our President is as insensitive to death as most of history’s world leaders, at least he’s really, really funny?