Today’s Doonesbury–as usual–is the bellwhether. In it, the President’s wife and children interrupt him while he is trying to shave and keep asking him if he has capped the well, saved the economy, etc. etc, . On the Fourth of July, 2010, the Obama Presidency eerily mirrors that of that of the fictional Independence Day President, Thomas J. Whitmore. On the day of the alien invasion the President was being harassed by his press secretary because of his legislative timidity. He had “lost the message.” A columnist had compared him to Oliver Twist asking for “more” as his poll number slid. They weren’t attacking his policies; they were attacking his age.
Sound familiar? Okay, in this case they are attacking both. Still In the face of vicious attacks from the right and sniping from the left, the Smooth Ride from the South Side, just keeps on keepin’ on. He had it all laid out from day one, and he won’t abide distractions. You get the feeling that if a city-size space ship did appear above the White House, he would assure us all that he hasn’t taken his eyes off of it the appoint the bipartisan Secure And Unified Cosmological Emergency Response commission to draw up contingencies. Then when Will Smith dragged his parachute full of alien intruder into the oval office, Obama would hire it on the spot. After all, who knows more about defeating reckless, greedy alien invaders than reckless, greedy alien invaders? Alien invaders, Wall Street gamblers. You get the point. It stands to reason then to put a member of a galactic hive-mind in charge of interstellar creative thinking.
I’ll tell you what I think. I think Obama expected to lose. I don’t think Barack Obama thought he had a snowball’s chance in the South Carolina primary to beat the Clinton Machine. At best he would become Vice President. At worst he would avoid the stain of defeat with the continuing promise of being America’s first Black President. It was a win-win situation. The only thing that could really screw it up was . . . well . . . winning.
Well guess what, Bucko! You won! You are the President of the real, actual United States of America. To me that makes you less like your sci-fi counterpart than someone closer to you–another iconic figure of the upper Midwest. Arthur Fonzarelli.
That’s right: The President as Fonz!
Think about it. Fonzi was a figure of mythical proportion to his followers. They at once idolized and feared him. He was bigger than his size, louder than his volume, there and gone. Nobody wanted to be Fonzie; they all just wanted to bask in his glow.
When Fonzi got regular face time things began to change. At first, they took away his leathers and tried to make him wear that little sky blue Kookie Burns number, but the Fonz said “Ayeeee! Ain’t gonna happen” and they backed down. Everything was going fine until he got camera hungry. Once he became the center of the action, it all went if not to hell at least to Waukasha, where as any true fan knows there wasn’t really a party. Soon Fonzie became loveable, then a loveable joke, then a shop teacher? And let us not forget, it was Fonzie who originally jumped the shark!
So is Barack Obama the political Fonzie? No, Mrs. C., he ain’t. If the Fonz was President when that rig blew up, he would have put on a diving suit, rolled up next to that rot-spewing pipe and explained things to it. Problem solved. Nope, President Obama isn’t even Fonzie. He’s Chaci, with just a side of President Whitmore. He can’t even hope to salvage his legacy by defeating the aliens. According to the right wing, the aliens aren’t Independence Day, the aliens are They Live–disguised like us and living among us while they hatch their evil overthrow. Only Rowdy Roddy Piper and the Governor of Arizona can see them as they truly are!
No, unfortunately Barack Obama seems to have decided that he has already done what he came to do–come to do it at all. On Inauguration Day his place in history was cemented. He leaped over Tyler, Hayes and about thirty other guys just be showing up. Now he seems to have decided that the smart move is to ready himself for the next inevitable stage–the first black ex-President of the United States. That job in many ways will be tougher than this one. He doesn’t like to schmooze as much as slick Willy, so his community activist days are over. That means his wife will be out-earning him, unless he gets on a few dozen boards and hits the speaking trail, and you don’t do that by hosing Wall Street.
Maybe I am wrong. I hope I am wrong, but I see no evidence of it lately. He isn’t Carter or Bush Jr. He isn’t too small for the job. He just needs to get over the fact that his enemies are never going to want to be his friends. The Republicans, like those guys in the city-size space ships, are from another world. They are a different species. They are here to use the planet’s natural resources and move on. That is never ever going to change.
Mr. President, I’m with Jeff Goldbum on this one. Don’t use the nukes, but fight back. Don’t make it so easy for them to get inside your head. Realize that you are not just taking your turn in the big chair. You are the leader of the free world in a time of inevitable historic change. If the bad guys win, we soon won’t t recognize our planet. Don’t sit in your bunker and wait for them to get what they want and go away. You know their weaknesses. Exploit them Once you get through their shields, they are weaker than you think.
Mr. President, the world is watching and depending on you. Take off your golf pants and put on your flight suit. You “belong in the sky!” Make this your Independence Day! I will even buy the cigars.