Your Lying Eyes

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01 November 2008

Celebration Time - Stuff Happens!

As someone who travels to Newark, NJ, each workday, I have been contempating the upcoming election and the implications it has for each of us in our everyday endeavors. In particular, I have been considering the fallout from, first, an unlikely McCain victory and, secondarily, a likely Obama triumph, and how these might affect my commute home Tuesday evening or to work the following morning.

But let's assume, for a moment, that a resounding Obama victory Tuesday night will result in some down-home, Detroit-style celebrations across the country. That would surely require an emergency Obama press conference to address Americans' concerns, and if I were him I think I would handle it like this:

Q: Mr. [President-elect], you spoke of the television pictures that went around the world earlier of [African-Americans] welcoming [your election] with open arms. But now television pictures are showing looting and other signs of lawlessness. Are you, sir, concerned that what's being anarchy in [Detroit] and other cities might wash away the goodwill [your campaign] has built?

[Obama]: Well, I think the way to think about that is that if you go from a[n] [op]pressive [administration] that has -- it's a police state, where people are [stopped and frisked] and imprisoned by the tens of thousands -- and then you go to something other than that -- a liberated [America] -- that you go through a transition period. And in every country, in my adult lifetime, that's had the wonderful opportunity to do that, to move from [an oppressive] [Republican] regime to something that's freer, we've seen in that transition period there is untidiness, and there's no question but that that's not anyone's choice.

On the other hand, if you think of those pictures, very often the pictures are pictures of people going into the symbols of the [administration] -- into the palaces, into the boats, and into the [Republican] Party headquarters, and into the places that have been part of that [op]pression. And, while no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of [op]pression and people who have had members of their family [jailed] by that regime, for them to be taking their feelings out on that regime.

But Wait. Wait. But in answer to your -- direct answer to your question –are we concerned that this would offset it, the feeling of liberation -- suggests that, "Gee, maybe they were better off [op]pressed." And I don't think there's anyone in any of those pictures, or any human being who's not free, who wouldn't prefer to be free, and recognize that you pass through a transition period like this and accept it as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom.

Let me say one other thing. The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over, and over, and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a [television], and you see it 20 times, and you think, "My goodness, were there that many [televisions]?" (Laughter.) "Is it possible that there were that many [televisions] in the whole [city]?"

Q: Do you think that the words "anarchy" and "lawlessness" are ill-chosen --

[Obama]: Absolutely. I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn't believe it. I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny Penny -- "The sky is falling." I've never seen anything like it! And here is a country that's being liberated, here are people who are going from being [op]pressed and held under the thumb of a vicious [administration], and they're free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or 10 headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a [resident], who they claimed [was] shot -- one thing after another. It's just unbelievable how people can take that away from [the change] that is happening in [our[ country!

Do I think those words are unrepresentative? Yes.

Q: Given how predictable the lack of law and order was, as you said, from past victories, was there part of [David Axelrod's] plan to deal with it?

[Obama]: This is fascinating. This is just fascinating. From the very beginning, we were convinced that we would succeed, and that means that that [change] would [come]. And we were convinced that as we went from the end of that [administration] to something other than that [administration], there would be a period of transition. And, you cannot [change] everything instantaneously; it's never been done, everything instantaneously. We did, however, recognize that there was at least a chance of catastrophic success, if you will, to reverse the phrase, that you could in a given place or places have a victory that occurred well before reasonable people might have expected it, and that we needed to be ready for that. And, we have been.

Q: Yes, but Mr. [President-elect], I'm asking about [whether things will calm down]?

[Obama] [Yes]. Does that mean you couldn't go in there and take a television camera or get a still photographer and take a picture of something that was imperfect, untidy? I could do that in any city in [France]. Think what's happened in [their] cities when [they]'ve had riots, and problems, and looting. Stuff happens! But in terms of what's going on in [our cities], it is a fundamental misunderstanding to see those images over, and over, and over again of some boy walking out with a [television] and say, "Oh, my goodness, [your supporters are out of control]." ...And it's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that's what's going to happen here.

Thank you very much.

Excerpted, with limited editing [] from here.


Blogger weston said...

Good luck.

November 03, 2008 10:02 PM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

racist sour grapes...

November 05, 2008 6:53 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Weston - thanks - there were some overnight celebrations, but apparently of the non-destructive kind. I left a little early - around 5pm - and all was very quiet along my route.

Jimbo - thank you for your highly substantive comment.

November 06, 2008 8:23 AM  

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