Hennessy's View

Domine, non sum dignus

Irrational History

Symbols can change history. Sort of.

I was on patrol on the USS John C. Calhoun in January 1992. I sat in the Crew’s Lounge. Ed Lesage, a radioman, delivered the latest news from the wire—usually a few days old. I got the first copy. The first story told me that President George H. W. Bush would not be re-elected.

I was right.

This morning, I saw a story on RealClearPolitics.com that reminded me of the story from 1992. In this story, the Great Seal of the President of the United States fell off the podium as Barack Obama spoke. The President leaned over to inspect the fallen symbol of the office he occupies. He made a feeble joke, “you know who I am.” Self-deprecation would have helped, but he went for vainglory.

My reflexive thought upon reading the story was, “he’s finished.” Later, I applied logic to the situation and realized that my gut reaction action was silly. Set problems don’t determine presidential elections. But neither does the flu. Or rabbits.

Still, images stick in the human brain. Parallels construct themselves: “The emperor has no clothes; the president has no seal.”

Despite its irrationality, I can’t help thinking “former President Obama” whenever I hear his name. “Former President Barack Obama, today, announced plans for his Presidential Museum on Wheels.” Or, “the former president is on his fourteenth vacation since leaving the White House last month.”

If Obama loses his re-election bid in 2012, you can blame his arrogance, his failure to lead, his historic budget deficits, the rampant corruption he’s brought to Washington.

But keep in mind that on October 5, 2010, the Presidential Seal abandoned Barack Obama.


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