Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A family photograph

I like this photograph of Barack Obama and Stanley and Madelyn Dunham in New York. They're sitting on a Fifth Avenue bench, Central Park behind them (that must be Central Park), a sharp-looking young man and his dowdy-looking grandparents. Their happiness and love shine.

The Republican strategy in this campaign has been in large part to make voters think that Barack Obama is Not Like Us. There are two problems with that strategy. One is that Like Us no longer looks to many people like a compelling qualification for office. We're now wrapping up an eight-year-long lesson plan on that point.

But the second problem is that too many voters have already decided that Barack Obama is not exotic or foreign, that indeed he is Like Us, an ever more various Us that no longer thinks of the word color as followed by the word line.

comments: 2

thalkowski said...

To try to claim (as some have) that Obama is 'not like us', presupposes who that 'us' might be, what lines people might have to think along to draw a line excluding Obama from 'us.'

That mentality is precisely opposite that reflected by Duke Ellington's wonderful quotation, from an older post of yours.

"You've been quoted as saying that you write the music of your people as it sounds to you."


"Now, would you like to expound on that a little bit?"

"Let's see. My people--now which of my people? I mean--you know, I'm in several groups, you know. I'm in--let's see--I'm in the group of the piano players. I'm in the group of the listeners. I'm in the groups of people who have general appreciation of music. I'm in the group of those who aspire to be dilettantes. I'm in the group of those who attempt to produce something fit for the plateau. I'm in the group of--what now? Oh, yeah, those who appreciate Beaujolais [laughs]. And then of course I'm in the--of course, I've had such a strong influence by the music of the people. The people, that's the better word, the people rather than my people, because the people are my people."

[Transcribed from Ken Burns' Jazz. The film footage looks to be from the mid-1960s.]


Michael Leddy said...

Timothy, thank you for reminding me (and anyone who's reading) of that wonderful passage.