Only want to see you laughing in the Purple Rain. . .
Is it just me, or has President Obama’s first term sort of been like watching Purple Rain backwards?
Here’s how I see it:
No offense to folks who love that movie, I’m one of them, but the whole movie sort of sucks until you get to the part where Prince sings Purple Rain at the end. You really only watch it because you like Prince and the music is good. You know, sort of like how you like Obama and his speeches are good. Now, I don’t mean that to sound like a Fox News contributor. When I say you like Obama and his speeches are good, I mean that when Obama speaks, you actually believe him, or at least I do. I have faith in him when he speaks, even when he’s talking to the press right after licking the balls of republicans who are just going to leave a five and a shoddy thank you note on the nightstand. I want to believe that Obama is going to continue to stand up for liberal policies and ideologies, one of the most important of which being taxes on the rich and not the middle and lower classes.
The thing that makes his presidency more and more like watching Purple Rain backwards is that he started out so wonderfully. The Change We Can Believe In, The Yes We Can, the hope, the upswing into “Yeah, we’re progressive and we’re not apologizing and we’re going to kick your republican ass out of congress and do better” mentality was all so intoxicating that year. This was the first presidential election in which I was legally allowed to participate, so I think the message was like an extra shot of tequila in my political margarita. I remember when the results came in, a bunch of my Theta Nu Pi sisters and I rode around our college campus to witness the exuding happiness. People were actually partying in the streets. I had never witnessed anything like that in my life. It felt like the victory of the century for many people. We were laughing in the Purple Rain and singing along to the “woo, hoo, hoo, hoo” and watching Obama playin’ that guitar of social justice and holding our lighters up and wiping away our Single Tear(s).
One of the first things Obama did in office was to strike down the Global Gag Rule, something I had written about just a little bit earlier in my college career (first year comp, to be precise). It was wonderful, and I was so proud and happy to see it go. Things seemed to be off to a great start.
But then things got more tumultuous. Healthcare, which should have passed much easier than it did, became a struggle. A right that Obama had defended with a stroke of his pen by striking down the Global Gag Rule suddenly became a political football with the input of Stupak-Pitts, and Obama was not the MVP we needed to punt that sucker completely out of the arena. DADT has been the strangest struggle. What should be a no-brainer repeal has become muddled – and has failed to be repealed twice now. Now,Obama and the Democratic congress have accomplished a lot of things. I don’t want to take that away from anyone. But there has been more unnecessary compromise than there is gratuitous head-explodings in Fallout 3 (get the Bloody Mess perk if you really want to make it rain guts). So, it seems as though with every turn, people are getting less and less enthused about this term, just as people get more enthused when they’re waiting for the final performance scene in Purple Rain.
This “compromise” with the Republicans just seems to be the final straw. This is that beginning part where you’re thinking to yourself “Purple Rain is on VH1 again, do I really want to suffer through two hours just to watch him sing the song at the end?”. The fact of the matter is: You do. The pay off at the end is awesome, and it’s awe-inspiring, and you sing along every time. The fact of the matter is, even though the movie sucks, the pay-off is great. The ending is worth it. The beginning of Obama’s presidency was like that, which happened to be the problem. People are expecting him to live up to that kind of amazingness all the time, and yeah, I’m one of them. I expected better. I still expect better, but this is what it sounds like when doves cry (Yeah I know, that was terrible, but so necessary).
But I think that Obama’s next Purple Rain ending moment is yet to come. If he’s not kind and doesn’t rewind soon, then I say pop in a new DVD and quit watching re-runs. But in the meantime, I’ll be interested to see if Obama doesn’t start wailing on that guitar again.
You say you want a leader, but you can’t seem to make up your mind
And I think you better close it and let me guide you to the purple rain
There you go, Mr. President. You gotta listen to the people who got you here. You do that, I bet you can recapture the swagger (that’s so desperately needed in these politically impotent times) of The Purple One once more.