Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The baraka of Barack

"Virtually everyone who knows him recognizes that he plays his cards close to the vest, so that you can make your case to him without knowing whether it has registered."
The Obama I (Don't) Know - Richard A. Epstein
David Seaton's News Links
Barack Obama is, as of today, probably going to be the next president of the United States. Some wonder if he has enough experience for the job, while others say that no previous experience prepares a person for being president of the United States.

However, the experience that the rest of us have of that person may prepare us for their presidency.

A good example might be Bill Clinton.

As governor of Arkansas Clinton evidenced many of the traits that he would later show as president: a fine grasp of policy and all its details, an emphasis on economic performance, a preternatural connection with voter sentiment and priapsis; they all were there. It was very easy to have a clear idea of who Bill Clinton the person was.

Even George W. Bush shouldn't have been that much of a surprise: he was a ne'er do well, drunken, foul ball and fuck up most of his life, he seemed to have reformed as governor of Texas, but except for going back to the booze, all he did was revert to type under the pressure of the presidency.

This brings us to Barack Obama.

Barack Obama is not easy to know, he often seems distant and enigmatic and there are amazingly few "revealing" anecdotes about him either past or present. We have very little to go on; even psychobabble comes up dry in his case.

Always polite and unruffled, never angry, always in control; cautious, calculating, tactical and never unguarded. He has done relatively little and what he has done has always been marked by the same caution and tactical sense.

One thing stands out and that is how appropriate his first name is: Barack.

This is usually translated in Obamite literature as a Swahili word for "blessed".

In fact Swahili is just a trader's lingua franca of pigeon Arabic spoken in East Africa and the word barack is really an Arabic word and in common parlance in Muslim countries.

To have "baraka" is to be "blessed" with a form of preternatural luck.

A soldier who seems immune to bullets, who always emerges unscathed from battle, is said to have "baracka" and other soldiers feel that his luck rubs off on them, being close to him makes them lucky too. So, "baraka" is luck seen as charisma.

Napoleon who had to make many inexperienced officers into generals would always ask first about the candidate, "Est-il-heureux?" "Is he lucky?"

Who could deny that Barack Obama has "baracka"?

Barack Obama has probably arrived at the threshold of American politics's greatest prize with fewer moves than anyone in the country's history: his opponents have scandals that eliminate them from Senate races, the Republican Party under the leadership of Bush commits harikiri, and the economy threatens to collapse just as his opponent began to pull ahead in the polls.

Obama seems to have little to do except avoiding mistakes and riding his baracka home to victory... without using the whip.

The question we all have to ask ourselves is the same the soldiers ask themselves about a lucky comrade in arms: will his luck rub off on the rest of us"?

Is his luck our luck?


RC said...

In about 12 days you'll know if it is worth pursuing this tack or if the baraka has dissolved. As to whether or not "we" will be lucky too, well, only if it means that by his election we have escaped the churlish aura of the latter day Republican behemoth. You know, considering the economic and climate problems we are facing, this is kind of like everyone telling me how lucky I was after being run over by a pickup truck. They insisted I was undergoing the benevolence of some saint's beatification test since I could still walk, but with great difficulty. And 24 hours a day I was in great pain. Indeed, this was a very strange form of luck. I suspect "we" will all get to experience that kind of luck again, sometime really soon. So smile while you are crying, and may Happy Days return sooner rather than later.

ipeter said...

Est-il heureux translates as "Is he happy". I think the quote should be 'Est-il chanceux?"

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Sorry, but "Est-il heureux?" is the standard Napoleonic quote and "Is he lucky?" is the standard translation of it. I'm not a huge expert on French, but I imagine that it is like in Spanish, if somebody is very unlucky they say that he is "un infeliz", "an unhappy one".