Bicycle Diaries: 44

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don’t let the perfect
be the enemy of the good

Voltaire's words came to mind the day after Obama's election. A controversy had broken out over this cartoon when it appeared on the front page of The Chicago Reader. Most of the criticism was dominated by accusations of racism. Would the paper have run a similar cartoon for a white president-elect? YES ... especially if s/he had come from The Windy City. Why? Because such a sentiment is a clear example of our homegrown skepticism. Sure, we're proud as hell that a neighbor is now the leader of the free world. And with the 2016 Olympics a long way off when will the 2nd City get to outshine NYC and LA again?

But we're also well aware of the fact that our politicians are often world-class knuckleheads. After all, our honeymoon with the limelight lasted for only about a month. Now we're trying to explain how the same state that produced a Yes We Can president also produced a What's in it for Me governor.

Obama isn't Blogo.
But neither will he be our messiah.

He doesn't appear to be a bad family man.
But neither will he be the father of our country.

He isn't a quitter.
But he'll be no Jack Kennedy,
no FDR, no Lincoln.

for that matter.

And he isn't afraid of the 21st century.
But he won't fix your computer.

What will Obama be? What's the best we can hope for? He'll be our country's first, and perhaps our only, black president. He'll be thoughtful. He'll be charismatic. But in the end he'll inevitably disappoint. He is an elected politician after all. He will break his promises. He made about 500. And no doubt, there will be scandals. In either case, we'll have the only right citizens really possess in a democracy: the right to vote for someone else in 2012. So The Chicago Reader's front page should be taken as a neighborly but skeptical reminder:

If you screw this up Obama
we won't re-elect you.

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