Sunday, February 28, 2010

"...And Here's To You, Mr. and Mrs. America..."

The line is one of those considered "timeless".

" word, Benjamin...plastics..."

The film, of course, the seminal 1968 Mike Nichols work, "The Graduate."

That line, though, could have just as easily, I think, been delivered this way.

" word, Benjamin...politics..."

That particular slant occurred to me as I was reading a news story about Barack Obama having a physical exam.

Nothing out of the ordinary there.

Which, I suddenly realized, was exactly the point.

It was just a scant fifteen months ago, that America, in a frenzy of passion and zealousness and, dare we still say, hope, rushed to the polls in record numbers to elect this man the first African American President of the United States.

And a lot of those Americans believed, without thinking, that the man they were rushing to elect would be the answer to not only the ills of this country, but the ills of the world, as well.

That's the thing about passion.

Like love, it has a tendancy to blind us to reality.

If only for a few passionate moments.

Fifteen months later, I don't think anyone would offer that the ills of the country, let alone the world, have been cured.

Even those whose passion blinded them fifteen months ago.

Which isn't to say that Barack Obama has failed.

It's simply by way of saying that the passion has passed and reality has resumed it's regularly scheduled programming.

Only time will tell what kind of president Obama turns out to be.

And declaration, or accusations, of both success and failure are not only subjective assessments, they are really only valid when viewed through the lens labeled "hindsight."

I think it fair, though, to say that, at this writing, his presidency is pretty much like the news story about his physical exam.

Nothing out of the ordinary there.

But, for some strange reason, when I pondered all of this, what jumped into my mind was the classic final scene from the classic movie about Benjamin Braddock and his post college angst.

Watch the scene for yourself...and then I'll explain the method to my madness...

Picture this...

Obama supporters/zealots, etc are represented by Ben as he drives, runs, hurries to the church.

Obama himself is represented by Elaine.

Give or take a wedding veil.

And with a passion that is palpable, Ben claims Elaine for his own and the two of them run to catch the bus that will take them away from the now and down the road to happy ever after.

But, just as in reality, passion begins to wane almost immediately.

And the very last moment of that very classic last scene tells it all.

As they look at each other with a mutual expression that can only be read one way.

" what...?"

Best intentions and heat pounding passions aside, I think pretty much the same thing that happened to Ben and Elaine happened to America and Barack.

And, ergo, The Gradute now can fairly be called a political film.

Because the ending of that movie perfectly mirrors another ending.

And reality resumes it's regularly scheduled programming.

The presidency of Barack Obama.

So far, nothing out of the ordinary there.