03 December 2010

Precious Hands, Raised

How can I put this?

I was recently looking on the Facebook when I noticed that one of my friends posted pictures of his recent visit to the White House for the President's special menorah lighting and Hanukah celebration.  It appeared to be an event of much mirth and joy though the candid photos, shared among those in attendance, captured a President who I think is truly depressed.  The poor man.  He is really well intended and is being brutalized by an opposition that is so singularly destructive in its opposition to anything he offers that's it's a wonder he's actually accomplished as much as he has but still--even health care feels like a long time ago.  But still, as an ardent supporter throughout the campaign, I admit that my patience is wearing thin.  I feel like his advisers are sending him in the wrong direction; that he's not fighting back hard enough against attacks; that there are so many issues upon which to seize the high moral ground and instead he chooses the prosaic, mundane, practical middle, which inspires few and leaves too many unrealized aspirations for building a better world.

Anyway, those photos.  In one particular photo of the President and the First Lady, I could barely make out their faces through the sea of hands holding digital cameras and phones, all in an attempt to "capture" this truly unforgettable moment.  Which, the more I looked through the photographs, made me want to forget it all, as quickly as possible, since everyone seemed hell-bent on the celebrity of the man and the schmoozing with him and his Vice President and the historic significance of the residence but not on the moment at hand, the pivot of history that would have demanded an assemblage of Jews in the White House on Hanukah to demand an extension of unemployment benefits to those out of work; an end to the Bush tax-cuts to the rich; substantive moves on Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.  Nearly 80% of American Jewry voted for the man.  Did everyone's Facebook page of their Pennsylvania Avenue Hanukah offering have to be a fat-free latke with lowfat sour cream?  Wasn't anyone going to schmaltz-it-up?

Look, for all I know my friends conveyed just the right messages on behalf of the American Jewish community but I have my doubts.  I think we're all being rolled--from the left and the right--by the power of celebrity--Obama is to Beck as MSNBC is to FOX--and it's a bright light that's blinding us, I fear, from speaking certain truths not only to power but to ourselves.

Oh those precious hands raised, holding cameras and phones.  Should they not have been shaking fists?  "We voted for you!  Feed the hungry!  Clothe the naked!  Beat swords into plowshares!"  That sort of thing.  If it's all for the cameras these days, then give me some drama.  Not just another "look at what I did today!" on Facebook. 

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