Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Of Susan Boyles and Barack Obamas: Cheers and Jeers

It's All About Expectations

When Barack Obama took the political stage, a great many people cheered.
Now some people are jeering: loudly.

When Susan Boyle took the London stage for "Britain's Got Talent", a great many people jeered at her.
Now the entire world is cheering: loudly.

It's all about expectations: what we expect to see come out of people we truly do not know. With respect to President Obama, we needed change so much that when he told us he would make that change, well, we expected too much from one man. But the change is there. How do we know? You don't have to look any further than the people who were predisposed to hate him from the beginning. Any success agitated them. They hate him even more now. From Fox News to Rush Limbaugh, to Ann Coulter(geist), their media pick at errors as if a frantic dance. Some of them even collide. There is no choreographer. The dance is chaotic. They each want to dance the way they feel and there is no cohesiveness: can you see them sitting around a table to agree on policies? Palin. Gingrich. Jendal. Steele. The odds that they would produce anything would be worse than the odds of a hundred chimpanzees typing out all the works of Shakespeare.

American society is a very, very dichotomous: we expect legislators, judges and administrators to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, but we are suspicious of intelligence. We put up with eight years of ineptitude and buffoonery, with world class stupidity even, but we are frightened of an administration that is perhaps the most intelligent diplomatic force we have seen in over half a century.

Obama's first 100 days is drawing to a close and people are drawing imaginary battle lines. But what he has had to face and the way he has faced it is extraordinary, especially for one man. Those who jeer him, however, will never be satisfied no matter how many times he reaches across the aisle to them. They hate him, because need to hate him. They have foolishly set up "tea parties" to oppose a stimulus package that was badly needed. Even economists say that the stimulus package is not just a bandaid, but an honest attempt at helping America's economic mess. George Bush deregulated everything he could, then in his last 100 days, deregulated everything that was placed on his desk (he may have, for all we know, deregulated the desk itself) He certainly didn't know WHAT he was deregulating, only that he was deregulating something, and that was enough.

So what, if at all, is the similarity between Barack Obama and Susan Boyle? Again, it's all about expectations. Both were prepared to be mocked. Susan Boyle experienced low expectations. Barack Obama experienced high expectations. Both had to OVERCOME those expectations. Both had to admit they could make mistakes.

A big difference between Boyle and Obama: Boyle won her contest, but Obama's contest is just beginning, with people "hoping he fails" all along the way.

Who's happier?

Just thought.


Susan Boyle reminds me of Britain's late Queen Mother: not a conventional beauty by any means, but at the end of her 101 turbulent and eventful years was one of the most beloved women in the world. If Susan continues to beguile people with her unique voice and quirkiness, she too can join the ranks of Queen Mum.