Learning to Love (er, Like) Again

Many of you (especially those who know me personally) might recall a time when I adored Barack Obama just as much as everybody else. A time I like to call "before the fucking primaries." And although the man himself did piss me right off repeatedly between then and now, I never had as much of a problem with him as I did with all the bullying assholes among his supporters, from Keith Olbermann to the Kossacks. Unfortunately, the "Obama roolz, Clinton droolz!" crowd managed to taint his image so badly for me that by the time he got the nomination, it was hard for me to separate general primary disgust from Obama-specific disgust.

Now that I'm not subjected to a daily barrage of Hillary hatred and Obama ass-licking, it's a little easier to take a look at the candidate himself and remember what there is to like about him. I can't imagine I will ever find his rhetoric as moving or his persona as inspiring as I once did -- he and his campaign, let alone his supporters, shattered my rose-colored glasses -- but I will say I appreciate stuff like this video of him filling sandbags to help flood victims (via dday at Digby's).

Don't get me wrong -- the first thing I see there is a candidate taking advantage of an image-bolstering photo op. Like I said, the glasses are gone. But I also see two other things that make me remember why I liked Obama in the first place. 1) A candidate who, after all the endless fucking use of this metaphor in the recent primary season (and every election season I can recall), literally rolled up his sleeves and got his hands dirty to help Americans in need. 2) A candidate who -- whether or not I buy him as the hardworking, compassionate midwestern dude this video desperately wants me to believe he is (ehh, sorta) -- at the very least makes an effort to look as if he cares about people who are suffering when the opportunity presents itself. Even just seeing the value of that particular photo op is a point in his favor as a politician. (McCain hasn't done the same, I hardly need to add.)

Now, it would be easy to put on my cynic hat and snark that it's nice to see him doing something for the people of Illinois for like the first time since we sent him to Washington, or speculate as to how many minutes elapsed between the cameras turning off and him leaving in a private jet. But I'm trying not to do that these days. Really. I'm trying to believe in him again. I'm looking for reasons to want this man as my president -- as opposed to just wanting any Dem -- a prospect I couldn't imagine myself being anything but elated over a year ago.

It's slow-going, this learning to like him again. (Realistically, it will never be love.) And I completely respect people who have no interest in trying at this point, people for whom he's permanently lost the credibility that inspires enthusiasm in the voting booth. I get that. But I think it might still be possible for me, and I hope it is. More of this, please.

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