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The Watercooler ~ The National Psychology of Barack Obama’s Presidency

A little bit different view from a nation weary of racial politics

Granted, we still have over two years left of a two-term presidency that has marked the nation in many ways. The first black president, the first super-radical progressive in my generation to ascend to such heights of power — at what some of us would describe as a startling (and unmerited) pace.

There was just too much romanticism to resist the lure of Barack Obama’s rise to power and what it meant for a nation still too vulnerable from its racial problems of the past. Not because we haven’t repented — many times and in many ways — but because there is so much profit for so many with questionable motives to use that past as a giant cudgel to hammer the nation into an image of one’s liking and take cynical advantage of America’s vulnerabilities.

For me personally, and I’m sure for many of you, the experience has been nothing short of gut-wrenching.

President Obama could have contributed to healing the nation’s racial wounds and getting us passed the past once and for all, but instead, he dragged us back into a past that never really was. A past created by the most cynical view of America, by a man whose superficial charm hid from view (with the exception of many conservatives who were able to see through him all along) the true content of his character.

What an explosive mixture. An attractive, articulate, young black family-man, prepared to prove that America had come full-circle and shed all doubt that she is a nation still plagued by pervasive racism. Yes, he could have done that and Americans could have swelled with pride at how far we had come.

If only.

Ever the optimist, I am still looking for the silver lining — the “all things work together for good” outcome that scripture promises to those who believe.

And I do believe that there is a subtle but certain psychology behind everyone’s psyche working things together for good — particularly in the black community, but also in the way that we as a nation are handling Obama’s embarrassing incompetence and bumbling immaturity with such — if I may — grace.

Setting aside the politics for just a moment, I think that the Republican Party’s reticence to take the steps they are legally, morally and constitutionally obligated to take to correct and strongly rebuke a president who is incorrigibly acting like an adolescent hell-bent on making a point, is a reflection of more than just a political strategy. No, instead, I see the goodness of America and of Americans all mixed up in the mess — showing the beauty of her pretty little head once again by demonstrating undeserved restraint in their reaction to it all.

Americans are really not stupid, insensitive, nor are we ungracious. We are able to grasp that to so many who don’t pay close attention to politics and all of its surreal dramas, President Obama still represents the black community — even if on a superficial level. And even though he is creating an indescribable mess that threatens all of us in so many ways, we are still aware of the sting it would cause our black brothers and sisters if our first black president was openly shamed and rebuked by the only political body with the power to do so — Congress.

And I know, the Senate — for purely political reasons — would never allow any sort of formal impeachment, censure or punishment of any kind no matter how deserving. But, for my purposes here, that is beside the point.

At our core, I am suggesting that we, as Americans, do not want to shame and humiliate President Obama for no other reason than for the sake of the black community itself. To protect those who truly do not get how vicious politics are and only see President Obama as a great role model to emulate. On some level, we recognize that some facades are just too fragile to challenge in this political climate and that confronting the wrongs may actually cause more damage than good.

As for the black community itself, I truly believe that many of them — through witnessing Obama’s embarrassing reign — may be growing in ways that we cannot yet see and that they are not yet prepared to talk about. The kind of growth that comes about when a healthy family enables a son or daughter to achieve adulthood while traversing through that very painful adolescent period before true maturity emerges.

If my conjecture has any truth to it, we could see real substantive change on the horizon. Maybe witnessing Obama’s mistakes and recognizing his incompetence for themselves will have the effect of encouraging and empowering the black community to break free from their symbiotic, self-protective political posturing, and emerge from this period in history prepared to change parties if they so desire.

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Free at last, free at last…thank God Almighty, we’re free at last.

The Watercooler is always an open thread.

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