Thursday, July 31, 2008

Best Rapper President Alive

Reading this article from the New York Times, I must admit that Barack Obama may be the only person that I'm not related to who I truly admire. Aside from that, it made me think about all the hoopla over whether Obama's swagger is too splasherific (read: presumptive).

The media, trying to reel itself in after their lovefest this month, is now trying to make the case that the nominee-in-waiting is behaving a little bit too much like the President-in-waiting. Even I will agree with this. I thought the Obama-branding has gone too far, what with the plane's fresh paint job, and that rip-off of the Presidential seal? Bad taste.

Still, in spite of the ballyhooing over an arrogant Commander-in-Chief, I think it's really moot. Arrogance and power go hand in hand. No leader of any movement can escape the aura of his position over others. Abraham couldn't escape it, neither could Moses, David didn't, Solomon definitely didn't, and Jesus? That's the reason they killed Him. Even modern martyrs like Ghandi and Dr. King can't help but lord their humility over others. So it comes as no surprise to see "The One," as McCain aides are known to call Obama, letting his swagger splash all over our TV screens.

Think about it: this guy really wants to be President of the United States of America. You have to be a cocky son of a you-know-what to still want to be President past 12 years old. Add to that the fact that homey is young and black, and your confidence level has to rival that of Kobe Bryant and Lil Wayne combined. Shoot, remember Jay-Z's level of swagger when he dropped The Blueprint or Weezy on Da Drought 3?

I remember reading a book (I think it was Chris Matthews' Hardball) where a politician remarked frankly that it takes an extra bit of self-importance--even for a politician--to aspire to the presidency. Reminded of this, I don't lose sight that at the end of the day, Obama is a man, as susceptible to the trappings of circumstance and power as George Dubya, Bill Clinton, and any other of our leaders, revered or ridiculed. He thought the seal and a platitudinous speech abroad were good ideas, and though I can fault him, I won't.

We all have our moments when we allow a string of good fortune to blind our better judgment. 'Member that Complex Magazine issue where Weezy took explicit aim at Jay? Or better yet, remember the latter part of '07, when, drunk off euphoria and whatever was in that styrofoam cup, Wayne put out a string of lackluster verses? Remember Kingdom Come?

As the proverb goes, "Pride cometh before the fall." I'm happy that all of us--Obama, the media, and the public--were able to get this reality check now, because there's still a general election ahead, and in case you didn't know, no poll is handing Obama an easy victory (even though it should be one).

I'm glad that the media has decided to pare back its adoration, as strained an effort as it must be for them, because it detracts from what's really important: the issues. And, while Obama may have developed into a true political rock star, such acclaim could undermine the very grass roots demographic from which he rose. Catching the tail end of his world tour on the news networks, he sometimes felt like that indie band that suddenly sold out and went commercial, inflated by mass appeal.

Criticism notwithstanding, my admiration of him and his steps on this path to greatness remains steady. Ideologically, he embodies the essence of Plato's idea of the philosopher king. (I'll end my compliments there before I become a hypocrite and wax rhapsodic about Obama myself.) There's still much to learn during the upcoming campaign. Just as Hillary before, McCain is a much better candidate than he seems to be on TV. I doubt he'll figure that out before November though.

No comments: