October 9, 2012

Obama's Fables - Peter Suderman: "Young Obama isn’t Prometheus; he’s Aesop. He brought fables, not fire."

 Obama's Fables: An American Classic.
"We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." - Aesop.
"Appearances often are deceiving." - Aesop.

An excerpt from Peter Suderman's article at reason.com called, "Obama’s Failed Narrative":
"When he decides to quit the high-powered, high-paying business of corporate consulting for the low-paying, low-prestige world of community activism, Obama writes that “with the benefit of hindsight, I can construct a certain logic to my decisions, show how becoming an organizer was part of a larger narrative.” Later, when he leaves the Chicago housing project of Altgeld Gardens for Harvard Law, he’s still trying to fill out an imagined story arc: “I would learn power’s currency in all its intricacy and detail,” he wrote, “knowledge that would have compromised me before coming to Chicago but that I could now bring back to where it was needed, back to Roseland, back to Altgeld; bring it back like Promethean fire. That’s the story I had been telling myself.”

But young Obama isn’t Prometheus; he’s Aesop. He brought fables, not fire. He writes in hushed tones about the “sacred stories” of the people he meets as a community organizer. It’s all part of his character arc: Like in a third-act revelation of a cheesy Hollywood screenplay, their stories are what help him find himself. Learning the tales of their lives, he writes, “helped me bind my world together…they gave me the sense of place and purpose I’d been looking for.” This sentiment, which would follow him to the presidency, combines Obama’s post-grad literary sensibility with a youthful narcissism: The lives he encounters become vehicles for his own self-fulfillment."