Monday, May 23, 2011


Our president's gutsy call in Abbottabad

renewed my faith in the man for whom I had voted.  Laying back and watching the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot on the budget and the debt ceiling and social safety nets was an effective if boring strategy. I was looking for bold leadership, a stroke of genius, a monumental shift in the cosmos.  

Turns out I was looking in all the wrong places.  

Then, again, I can't really fault myself.  The world's intelligence community had OBL in a cave in Afghanistan (I'm not sure why we're there any more... can we come home now?) so how can I feel foolish if I thought that domestic issues were where President Obama would make his stand.  

A digression : Have you noticed that this president doesn't have an acronym, like IKE or JFK?  Carter, Bush, Clinton, Obama.... aren't headline writers tired of writing it all out all the time?  Are we so puerile as a nation that BO in bold on the front page of the NYTimes would make us giggle?  Is BHO too much Hussein for Americans?  Who knows?  Not I, for sure, and yet my mind wanders in these mysterious ways.  And you read it.  It's a wonder, that's for sure. 

But back to the subject at hand.  In June, 2009, Mr. Obama spoke in Cairo.  

The speech didn't get much play in the US media, competing with graduations and summer vacation planning and all.  But in the Arab world, it seems to have added to a conversation that was happening underground and which burst forth in 2011's Arab Spring.  I'm listening to the speech as I type to you, and, once I get over how much I love the cadence of his voice and the obvious intelligence behind the sounds and the fact that I could listen to him read the phone book..... again, I digress.... well, the man is bearing his soul, and America's soul, and talking about the melting pot that is America.  

Speaking of mixed religious and racial traditions in a country which looks for similarities instead of differences, Mr. Obama first went to the long ties between Muslims and the USofA.  Did you know that the first country to recognize the newly formed United States of America was Morocco?  Did you know that the first Muslim elected to Congress was sworn in "using the same holy Koran that Thomas Jefferson had in his own library." 

Shared risks and responsibilities and the inter-relationships between countries and religious traditions and empires and deserts and I am moved once again by the power of this man's mind and his command of the language and the co-mingling of cultures and events that brought him to power at this moment in time and suddenly I have lost the train of thought of this post because, Nance, I agree with you: I love this guy.

But I started out to make you smile, because I am looking for smiles and they seem to be coming my way with greater frequency these days and that is a good thing.  A very good thing.   Therefore, we will go back to the spoken word which is where I was headed before I got all goofy over the Pres.

Specifically, one word.  Abbottabad.  Stewart just put into words what I had been thinking.  Where did that name come from?  

As usual, NPR came to my rescue with this charming snippet.  The great-great-grandson of Sir General James Abbott, the founder of his eponymous community, submitted one of the worst poems ever written to NPR's All Things Considered.  This proper Brit, upon leaving his longtime home, eulogized it thusly
Abbottabad, we are leaving you now. To your natural beauty, do I bow.

Perhaps your winds sound will never reach my ear. My gift for you is a few sad tears.
I bid you farewell with a heavy heart. Never from my mind will your memories thwart.

THWART??  Perhaps the residents of Abbottabad were a more forgiving sort.  Perhaps their English wasn't quite up to obscure references. In any event, those lines, along with the rest of the poem, is carved in a marble slab for posterity.

And I'm left to ponder the notion that, perhaps, Abbottabad is just a little bit of the melting pot, too.  After all, the Empire has been gone for a good long time, now.  The Pakistani's could have changed the name.  


In rereading this I find that I have wandered more than usual.  My family would tell you that this is my normal way of thinking.  I hope that they are happy and that the rest of you could follow my convoluted train of thought.

It's nice to be getting back to normal.  I just hope I figure out how to separate the trains of thought.  For now, as I ride the wave of returning mental health, hang on tight and watch out!


  1. And many of us in Minnesota are proud that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress is one of ours. Believe me, there was a dust-up around here about him being sworn in using a Koran (Quran?)-The fact that it belonged to Thomas Jefferson helped but a little.

  2. AB, I have this theory and I happened to blurt it out just off the cuff when someone was talking about Bin Laden and Bush. I'm starting to think he and Cheney knew where Bin Laden was all along and just kept the pretense of not knowing so they could continue their "War on Terror".

    OK, it may be a total conspiracy theory, but once I said it, I kept thinking about it and with those two, I wouldn't put anything past them to keep their agenda going.

  3. That video was posted on Facebook today by someone I loosely call friend, citing that speech as proof that he is selling us out and in league with the Muslims. I guess it's all in your perspective.

  4. People will believe what they want to believe, kenju. I've given up trying to change minds that refute facts with prejudice. You may be right, Megan - there is SO much we don't know and so much that went on behind the scenes. It's awful and scary but .... who knows? Minnesota's politics have always been amongst my favorite, alwaysinthe.. Jefferson's Q'ran (yet another transliteration) couldn't shut the crazies up either, eh?

    Floods, random shootings, tornado after tornado, drought, wild fire, Sarah Palin - is the world really coming to an end??

  5. Stream of consciousness posts are fun. I can't help it but whenever I see "Abbottabad" I think of "bad-a-bing, bad-a-boom." I can't help it. I'm so tired of seriousness, I guess I just needed to be silly. Our brains take care of us.


Talk back to me! Word Verification is gone!