We have never seen it yet to fail: after weeks if not months of planning, we finally get on that plane, travel to that city, check in to that hotel, and collapse on that bed. (We do this when we travel anyplace further away than Red Hook).
Then...usually in the wee small hours of...we wake up. And we lie in that expensive, 400-thread-count bed, deeply regretting everything we've ever one in our life. Especially taking this trip.
Our late Dad shimmers in the ambient air, seeming to ask us: "So you were already going broke at home...why did you have to schlep 3,000 miles, to go broke faster?"
He's right. (No he isn't, but we're in a weakened state). And so, because we don't have anything else to do until morning comes and we can restore the tissue at our (incuded) American breakfast (which means you can make a hog of yourself), we're thinking about Why is This President Different from All Other Presidents.
We don't mean that he's African-American. That's the easy answer.
No, we mean; why do people, a substantial amount of people, not all of whom are institutionalized, question facts about this president, that they would never question about another? His place of birth? Whether or not he just said what he very clearly just said, and what we all heard him say?
Whether or not he has the right to address a joint session of Congress without being insulted?
The fact that Mr. Obama is deprived of these rights is lunatic.
The man won his election, less arguably than some. He had a better background, more appropriate to a President, than most. (Scholar, lawyer, teacher, writer, politician).
He also ran a cleaner race than most, and has behaved in a more presidential manner than any we can remember.
By any measure of logic, he should be given the respect as any other President; and yet he is treated with disrespect of a kind which we have rarely seen in this country.
The kind of disrespect is the important point here. We personally disliked and even hated George W. Bush's effect on this country. We wished for Mr. Cheney's heart, what there was of it, to go pfffft (and before he had so misunderstood the Constitution as to proclaim an Imperial Successor to Mr. Bush. And he could have done it. You know that).
We have, in short, treated all kinds of presidents and vices with disrespect. (We hope you have figured out that in this blog, "disrespect" is not a verb). We were reverent of John F. Kennedy, we personally admired Jimmy Carter, we thought Bill Clinton was hot (we like big guys), but we have made tough comments about everyone else, and, when people made noises about "respect for the office," we snorted.
But "birthers" and screaming congressmen and the sort of people who keep denying the obvious are doing more than insulting the President on a personal level. They are denying his right to be where and who he is. They are negating his existence.
They are, in fact, the Georgia white man staring at the black man's application for Voter Registration and saying, "What's that you have in your hand, boy? I can't make out the words."
They are the Alabama waitress at the lunch counter serving the white man who sits next to the black woman, and thn looking through the black woman as if she doesn't exist.
They are the real estate agent "redlining" a certain neighborhood and ignoring the African-Americans who want to buy homes there, the Madison Avenue shopkeeper who won't let a single black man into his store no matter how much he rings the doorbell, the Boston cabbie who won't pick up a black fare even if there are no white ones.
A long time ago we wrote an essay on racism. Our conclusion was that the practice of racism requires a systematic denial of the obvious. Insanity also requires this, by definition.
So this is what we think is happenning in this country. It's not that the opposition is making fun of Mr. Obama. They are doing far less in that way than people did to Bush the Second (who, after all, is the first President to have a non-sympathetic portrait of himself in a full-length commercial movie while he was still in office.)
They are merely treating him as if he does not exist.
This scares us.