The other day a friend of mine confided that in the weeks leading up to the election, the Obamas’ apparent joy as a couple had made her just miserable. Their marriage looked so much happier than hers. Their life seemed so perfect. “I was at a place where I was tempted daily to throttle my husband,” she said. “This coincided with Michelle saying the most beautiful things about Barack. Each time I heard her speak about him I got tears in my eyes — because I felt so far away from that kind of bliss in my own life and perhaps even more, because I was so moved by her expressions of devotion to him. And unlike previous presidential couples, they are our age, have children the same age and (just imagine the stress of daily life on the campaign) by all accounts should have been fighting even more than we were.”But it wasn't just about the sex (though many women's minds seemed to be focused on it), there was also the humbleness, the down-to-Earthedness:
As we all know, in journalism, two anecdotes are just one short of a national trend. I figured that my friend and I couldn’t possibly be the only ones dreaming, brooding or otherwise obsessing about the Obamas. Were other people, I wondered, being possessed by our new first family?
I launched an e-mail inquiry. And learned that they were. Often, in strikingly similar ways.
Many women — not too surprisingly — were dreaming about sex with the president. In these dreams, the women replaced Michelle with greater or lesser guilt or, in the case of a 62-year-old woman in North Florida, whose dream was reported to me by her daughter, found a fully above-board solution: “Michelle had divorced Barack because he had become ‘too much of a star.’ He then married my mother, who was oh so proud to be the first lady,” the daughter wrote me.
There was some daydreaming too, much of it a collective fantasy about the still-hot Obama marriage. “Barack and Michelle Obama look like they have sex. They look like they like having sex,” a Los Angeles woman wrote to me, summing up the comments of many. “Often. With each other. These days when the sexless marriage is such a big celebrity in America (and when first couples are icons of rigid propriety), that’s one interesting mental drama.”
One woman wrote that when she couldn’t get to sleep at night, she “lay in bed and thought about the Obama girls in their rooms at the White House. I thought about Marian Robinson up on the third floor. And about Barack and Michelle, a couple who clearly have a ‘thing’ for each other, spooning together in bed. It helped me relax.”That was some truly delusional stuff and the mark of a real personality cult, where Obama was not just some things to some people but was instead being seen as all things to many people. Want an Obama who can stand tall and speak eloquently like an Ivy League-trained world leader? Or do you want an Obama that you can invite over for Scrabble and share sentences that include the world "y'all" or "gonna"? Why choose? He can be the Great Leader and the Dear Friend-- or better yet, the Dear Leader. I mean, North Korea is poor and they've got one, so why not the United States?
I understood perfectly where these cozy dreams of easy familiarity came from. It was that sense so many people share of having a very immediate connection to Barack Obama, whether they’re black or biracial, or children of single parents or self-made strivers; or they’re lawyers or community organizers or Ivy League graduates or smokers or basketball players or Blackberry users or parents or married or Democrats. A lot of people share the fantasy that having the Obamas over for “dinner and a game of Scrabble,” as one daydreamer put it to me, is something that really could just about happen.
“This is the first president I’ve known who looks, talks and acts like a peer,” is how one Washington man explained it to me. “Notwithstanding his somewhat exotic life story, I feel like I understand what he’s like and where he’s coming from. And despite his incredible achievements, he still seems like a lot of people I know. If you stopped the clock in 2004, in fact, or maybe a couple of years earlier, he’d feel roughly like a peer in terms of accomplishments, too. Of course I know nobody with his political gifts, speaking skills and confidence, and he’s also a gifted writer and thinker. But I feel like one or two different turns for Obama or me and he could have been someone my friends and I wouldn’t think it extraordinary to have in our circle.”
And so, it's really hard to believe that it's already been a year since that kind of mass psychological retardation was put on display because apparently everything that Obama has done and said since then has done nothing to crush many people's odd, loving fantasies of this man who they've never met, who they share nothing in common with, who in reality sees them as a mere means to his ends yet who nonetheless has great, and growing, power over their lives.
Check out what just happened in Buffalo, NY:
A lot of what is wrong with America, a lot of the deep, structural, psychological issues of this country and its love of power that so many of the people have come to see as not only inevitable but normal and desireable, is on display in that video. Watch it, take notes and be careful if you have any of these people as neighbors because they'll be the first ones to rat you out to Big Brother, or Father Obama, as the case may be.