Wednesday, November 05, 2008


After Barack Obama's stunning victory last night, I find David Bowie's song "Changes" going through my head today. Like many of Bowie's lyrics, one doesn't always know what he's getting at, but that's what makes them so good, because we can ascribe our own meaning to the images they conjure up.

For example, when I think of the line, "Turn and face the strain," that's exactly what Obama must do now--turn and face head-on the mess that George Bush has left us, and that will be a strain indeed.

There are other lyrics in "Changes" that seem to fit this election, as well. At one point, Bowie brings up the subject of shame, saying, "You've left us up to our necks in it." That pretty much sums up how I've felt about "W" these past eight years--feeling embarrassed and defintely ashamed that America picked such a shockingly inept man to lead this country into the 21st century. I was to the point of feeling concerned about our future as a nation--that maybe the United States had lost its moral compass, and that the experiment of democracy had perhaps run its course.

But then Bowie sings, "Strange fascination, fascinating me." That pretty much sums up how I felt last night, as I watched Obama's acceptance speech, speaking in prose that seemed to speak to me personally, uplifting me in a way that no president ever has before.

I was fascinated by what was happening, and fascinated at my own fascination. At last, the words of a leader were affecting me profoundly, and I could feel them satisfying a hunger that had been there for so long that I almost didn't know I was hungry anymore. As I looked at the screen, I didn't feel like I was watching the posturing of yet another politician. I was listening to a statesman, and I was reminded of something Michael Caine once said on "Charlie Rose" in answer to the question, "What makes for a great actor?"

He said, "A bad actor is one where when you look at the screen, you see the actor; a great actor is one where when you look at the screen, you see yourself."

We didn't see Barack Obama last night; we saw ourselves, and for the first time in a long time, we liked what we saw.

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