On the John
Barack Obama is dead.
Originally published on readjack.com January 18, 2009
WASHINGTON D.C.–Barack Obama is dead.
The President-elect was pronounced this afternoon at George Washington University Hospital, 53 minutes after being struck by three shots while waving to the enthusiastic crowd at the Lincoln Memorial during Sunday’s festivities. Authorities have taken a 38-year-old white male into custody as chief suspect, though are withholding his name at this time for security purposes. Vice President-elect Joe Biden is set to be sworn in on Tuesday. Memorial services will be held in D.C. as well as in Obama’s Chicago home of Hyde Park…
As an American, my greatest fear over the past 24 months has not been the failing economy. It has not been another terrorist attack. It has not been anything that Bush Inc. might have attempted on their way out the door. A potential assassination of Barack Obama—that’s the one. And as the likelihood of his taking office on January 20, 2009 increased with each political victory, so too did my fear of such an occurrence.
I remember being at Grant Park this past November, and though I did not say, always was the nervous dread itching at me. Thank goodness for all that bulletproof glass. Thank goodness.
Now we are less than two days away, and irrational as it is, I find myself pleading for noon on Tuesday to arrive without problem. I think: if he can just make it to his Inaugural speech, everything will be fine. I was even skeptical upon hearing he would make an appearance at today’s free concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Like a bride before her wedding day, I felt strongly that beginning Saturday, as fleets of Americans were arriving in our nation’s capital, our President-elect should be kept in hiding, emerging only shortly before he places his hand on Lincoln’s Bible for the swearing in.
This, of course, is illogical. Odds are just the same that he would be murdered post-Inauguration, better even, as the shortest U.S. Presidency made it to the 30-day mark. Security will be full-on here in D.C. as security always is. And yet leaders get killed. It happens. And now here is our country’s first black President, a man compared most with Lincoln, Kennedy, King…
I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want to live through this Presidency with the nagging wonder of When. Life has told me that public leaders who seem a threat to the status quo get taken down, and silly as it sounds, my Cubs fandom has told me that we are most vulnerable when all seems prosperous, when hope is at its peak and the promised land is nigh.
So be ready. We don’t know yet what kind of leader Barack will be, but the levels of excitement surrounding his candidacy and victory have always been more about what he represents than what he plans to do. This is good news, because it means that murdering Obama the President does not necessarily slay Obama the Inspiration. But keeping that idea alive and relevant is our responsibility, not his.
Before he was a president, a senator, a legislator, a community organizer, or anything else, Barack Obama was a person. Let us not forget this. He is not a savior, a god, or a myth. He is a man, a human being. He is President-elect not because it is his destiny, but because of concrete, tangible choices he made in his life. He is focused and determined. He has ideas and he has goals. He has a job and he is doing it. He believes in himself and we believe in him.
And we must do better than that. Because if all we do is “believe” in Obama, our relationship with him will develop into something abstract and frustrating. Should they kill him, they will destroy his work and break our will. Chaos will engulf us. We will cry and curse and riot and wonder if we will ever be whole again.
But if we know him as a man, we will take control long before he is killed. We will realize that the point of Obama is not that anyone can be President. The point is that anyone can be great, that we have a responsibility to pursue our own greatness and the ability to achieve it. And so when he is assassinated, or when he fails to be re-elected, or when he reveals himself as a dangerous religious quack destined to do more national damage than Bush or Clinton or Reagan or Nixon, we will not be defeated. There will be no way. We will take our anger and pain and roll it into our own goals, our own preparation, and we will pity the gunman so misguided as to believe he could destroy a nation by killing one man.
On Tuesday at noon, Barack Obama becomes President. A big step in his journey, a new chapter in his life. He has made his move. Now we make ours.
Copyright 2009, jm silverstein
MORE ON OBAMA from readjack.com:
From October 17, 2006: 1-20-09…we still got problems…
From May 5, 2008: The Jeremiah Wright controversy
From November 3, 2008: Change we can do for ourselves
From November 25, 2008: A Night at Grant Park