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John Boston: Obama and the beheading of Attila's ambassadors

How Beige Was My Valley

Posted: February 7, 2009 10:22 p.m.
Updated: February 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion."
- Edmund Burke

It's the cold and flu and Obamamania season.

Since November, I've contracted two of the three maladies. I've had a dry, hacking cough that won't go away, and drat if I haven't felt weaker than a kitten left in the dryer.

But I've yet to catch Obamamania.

I don't gurgle like Homer Simpson over a box of donuts when I hear Mr. Obama's name. An insipid grin doesn't spread when I see the president's likeness displayed like a pop star/religious icon on a holy card, complete with soft lighting, pressed palms and a celestial aura around his noggin.

My eyes don't close and I don't slow dance dreamily to Mary Wells singing the 1964 chartbuster "My Guy" when MSNBC fawningly offers his sound bites.

Not that I have anti-Obamamania, either. He's my president. He has my prayers and my unasked-for opinion.

There is a giddiness I find troubling surrounding Barack-o-Frenzy. It's not the man. It's the people worshipping the man.

It's also about how we easily drift into an inability to differentiate between television and Real Life.

Minnesota has elected a wrestler for governor and a clown for senator. Obamamania was born in the flatscreen world of heroes, villains - where all dystopia is neatly wrapped up in 30 minutes.

Soap operas, politics, news, our very environment are spoon fed to us, and we're not even participating in our own life. We're just - watching.

Even intelligent people deify and demonize candidates. An ugliness beyond understanding oozed from the senseless and seemingly boundless hatred of George W. Bush.

I've seen people, for the most part kind and reasonable, snarl and snidely rate President Bush below Adolf Hitler.

I might not say it - aloud - "You honestly cannot be that stupid."

But I sure am thinking it.

I don't mean "stupid" as an insult.

I take an invisible step back. I can see the face of the person contorting as they belch anti-Bush diatribes, followed by the re-swallowing as if to relish the bile.

It's like they're some homeless drunk or a drug addict stumbling down the street, shouting drivel.

President Bush's major sin was to not appear sexy on television.

Before The Dubyuh?

Like angry village peasants with torches and farm implements, the Right stormed the White House as if it were Frankenstein's castle, wasting eight precious years trying to burn Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Why does the current sitting chief executive become the personification of everything that is not only wrong with our lives, but with humanity for the past 10,000 generations?

I have a clue for you.

Jimmy Carter was not a coward.

Ronald Reagan was not Satan.

George Bush Sr. is not Satan.

Bill Clinton is not a pathologically lying sexaholic pimp. (You conservatives. Stop staring at your shoes at that last one.)

George W. Bush is not Satan, either.

Supposedly, the Democrats are the party associated with arts and creativity. But in 16 years of Republican domination of the White House, the cleverest invective liberals can conjure is the same tedious "He's Satan" followed by a sniggering Beevis and Butt-Head chortle.

Obamamania is the flip side of that terrible hate coin.

Instead of despising someone with phantasmagorical relish, much of the country is worshipping Mr. Obama, waiting for his two-dimensional TV image to dissolve all woes.

Mr. Obama is handsome, charming, well-spoken, intelligent, has a beautiful family and photographs well. A segment of the public prays to him like Apollo, as if his smile could grow crops.

Like in Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King," the mob can end up turning on a god. It's already starting.

In two-plus short but action-packed centuries, we've lived through much. Cripes. Britain burned the first White House. We've survived a civil war, recessions, depressions, a pair of world wars, territory expansions and a variety of social experiments that made us question our very identity.

In 2009, we're not just entering a period unlike anything experienced. With a surprising February suddenness, we're neck deep in it.

Our borders are non-existent. Washington just opened up Fort Knox to crooks, mooncalves and robber barons. Billions just vanished. Gone.

With a justification of "whoops," politicians from both sides days later sheepishly stand before us to beg for nearly a trillion dollars more to chuck into a black abyss to be named, or not, later.

Stimulus? We're seriously flirting with becoming a Second World socialist nation.

I don't dislike our young president. I certainly don't agree with the preview of his direction.

I question whether we are flinging away the very soul, fabric, direction and identity of the country with a series of measures that could morph us into an Orwelllian nightmare.

I think that's a more important issue than if the president looks dreamy on the cover of People Magazine.
When I used to teach Santa Clarita Valley history, I'd lecture about perception. Of all things, I'd share an anecdote involving Attila the Hun.

The 5th century warrior king was slicing his way through future Hungary. Not wanting to waste the time or effort to loot a modest-sized city of about 20,000, the Scourge of God sent emissaries to strike a bargain.

If the leaders would agree to a reasonable yearly tribute, Attila would spare everyone's life and not rape, loot or harm the city. That was akin to a saint-like act of charity for those dark days.

But instead of taking the deal, the leaders beheaded Attila's ambassadors.

What followed was most strange.

Most of the population fell into a mass hysteria and denial. Under the delusion that they had just defeated and killed Attila and his great army, the citizens held a three-day festival, complete with plays, dances, song, laughter and drinking.

They celebrated right up to the point when an angry and vengeful Mr. A.T.H. tapped on their front gate. He didn't just obliterate the berg, he shaved it off the map.

There might be a double lesson from that ill-fated Hungarian township Attila obliterated.

First, stimulus.

Leadership historically is not only capable but goof-dog eager to make fatal decisions of epic proportions.

Secondly, Obamamania.

Mass hypnosis happens. Instead of looking toward solution, toward our own inner strength, it is quite possible to dance into the chimera of our own fatal creation.

John Boston has earned 117 major writing awards. His work appears in The Signal on Fridays and Sundays.

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