The schism in American politics, that has divided left and right, had never been wider than it was on the afternoon of Friday January 7th. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh were hollering into their microphones for all they were worth, damning the president, castigating the Democrats, rousing their fan base to fury at the ‘horrors happening to America’. John Boehner, only recently in receipt of his oversized gavel from the outgoing Leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi, had already declared war on President Obama and his ideas for transforming America into a ‘socialist’ (or was that a ‘communist’?) state.
Obama’s ratings had crashed through the floor. His presidency looked set to nosedive out of existence at the next election. In Congressional rest rooms, Democratic politicians could be heard mumbling and grumbling about their leader’s spineless acquiescence to Republican blackmail.
Less than one week later – to be precise, last Thursday morning – the change that enveloped this nation was palpable. Had Disney World released its finest fairy godmother to sprinkle magic stardust from Maine to Louisiana?
Republicans and Democrats suddenly began talking to each other; Beck and Limbaugh took turns to deify the President – so humbly they would probably have kissed his feet, had he been close by them – and Obama discovered he was the best thing this nation had produced since Henry Ford invented the Model T.
It would have been wonderful, indeed, had Disney been able to manufacture a real fairy godmother for America. Alas, Disney deals only in fantasies. It wasn’t magic stardust that caused this miraculous change to take place, it was more a magic bullet. Or, to be precise, around thirty of them.
While Obama is known for his oratory skills, his speeches had become boring to Americans. The trouble was they all said the same thing. Jared Lee Loughner finally gave him the opportunity to say something different.
The memorial ceremony in Tuscon on Wednesday night held an air of evangelicalism. One almost expected a heavenly choir to burst forth at any moment. Obama was at his best, doing what he does so well, reciting speeches written by someone else.
Americans revel in these grand displays of communal emotion. They clapped so much, and so often, it seemed the show might well go on all night. Australians, watching in Queensland, thanked God it wasn’t happening near them, for the plethora of shed tears may well have raised flood levels another foot.
To a British peasant, it was all way over the top. To Americans, it was an opportunity to join together in shedding their pent up grief and frustrations. To a country riven by political strife and back-biting it was a means to calm fears, unify, and cast off frustrations.
Sadly, like fairy godmothers, the cloak of togetherness is only a fantasy. In a few weeks they’ll all be back to hating each other once more. But, for just a short while, Jared Lee Loughner, accomplished what nobody else in this nation was able to do.
What a pity so many had to suffer and die to achieve it.
Filed under: Life in fantasy land