Saturday, October 10, 2009

Where is the hero who shook my hand?

Interestingly enough, I wrote the title of this post over a month ago. I was disheartened by something or other that our dear president had done or had failed to do, and I got as far as typing the title before I was interrupted by some work-related demand. Today, however, it seems appropriate to return to the topic.
I once heard Nobel Laureate Edmond H. Fischer speak (I'm ashamed to say that I didn't really know who he was at the time) and I met winner of the Kyoto and Albert Lasker prizes, Leroy Hood in a Seattle bakery once—and shook his hand. As of today though, I can say that I shook the hand of a soon-to-be Nobel Laureate.
When Obama came to New Mexico the second-to-the-last time before the election, my wife and I drove up to Santa Fe to hear him speak. The line to get into the auditorium was over a quarter of a mile long and by the time we got to the gate the venue had reached maximum capacity and we were turned away. Then he came outside and talked to the crowd. I employed all of my crowd maneuvering skills (and abandoned my wife) to get to the front of the crowd, and I was rewarded with a moment of eye contact and a firm clasp of hands, and for few moments I was able to set aside my skepticism and truly believe, with all my heart, that this man would lead our nation—our world even—to true change.
Time has passed. He has proved himself to be human. He compromises. He panders. He protects. He gives undeserved preference. He even obscures the truth. I'm still glad that I voted for him and I am happier with him than I've been with any president that I can remember. But he's not the one. I wanted the Kwizatz Haderach and he is merely another Duke Leto I; a good man and a mighty relief from the Harkonen oppression that came before, but a politician none the less, and ultimately ineffectual.
Today he has been crowned by the world. I'm pleased for him and I'm pleased by the humility with which he announced his intention to accept the prize, but it makes me wish all the more that he'd done more to deserve it. If he had withdrawn our troops from pointless conflicts, if he had demanded absolute transparency regarding the tortures at Guantanamo Bay and the existence of secret detention centers, if he had sacrificed bipartisanism for the sake of a healthcare system that might really make a difference for the health of our nation, if he had shown himself to be the hero that I wanted him to be... then I would be cheering for him today, on his day.
Instead... well instead he is just a man who shook my hand. But men can become heroes and so my hope is not yet dead.


Seth said...

You're really on a Dune kick these days, aren't you?

Mentat (Fred Schultz) said...

With my Blog name of Mentat, I appreciate the Dune reference.

M. Huw Evans said...

Yes... I thought you might. Seems that Dune was on the brain that day though, as other references found their way into FB and Twitter posts and comments.

George Berger said...

hi Ilorien--I liked your oblique references to DUNE. That book draws from many cultures and mixes them in a truly wonderful way.
The term "Kwizatz Haderach" is closely related to Hebrew. "Haderach" means "the way [street]" in ancient and modern Hebrew. "Kwizatz" is of unknown origin but definitely means something close to "shortener." So the whole expresses the Bene Geserit goal. To breed human whose genetic endowment gives him powers that help the Sisterhood achieve its goal, which is simply the maximal tenable expansion of their power. A truly great book.

George Berger said...

Hi Ilorien---From our conversation the other day it appears that an update (i.e. a downgrade) of this post is in order.

M. Huw Evans said...

George - He's still not a Harkonen by any stretch, but he is tending more towards an Emperor Shaddam Corrino type.

I like this suggestion from the Wall Street Journal though.

George Berger said...

Hi Ilorien----That was a good article. Last night and yesterday there were large-scale student demonstrations at Iranian universities. The actions of the police were horrific. So yes, this would be the proper time for Mr Obama to show that the Nobel Committee had made the right choice.