I just read the Michael Lewis piece in Vanity Fair, and it got me thinking about the president in Denver. A lot has been said about how he seemed disengaged, tired, resigned, detached, lost, ad nauseum.
There's one bit in the Lewis article that I think explains at least some of what was behind that, and another that ought to leave us fired up and ready to go for the next round.
Follow me across the croissant for the crux of the matter.
First of all, this:
“There are some things about being president that I still have difficulty doing,” he said. “For example, faking emotion. Because I feel it is an insult to the people I’m dealing with. For me to feign outrage, for example, feels to me like I’m not taking the American people seriously. I’m absolutely positive that I’m serving the American people better if I’m maintaining my authenticity. And that’s an overused word. And these days people practice being authentic. But I’m at my best when I believe what I am saying.”The president wasn't outraged by Romney's used car salesman blabbing. He doesn't fake well, and he just wasn't really infuriated by a bunch of lies. He knows that people are lying about him & his policies all day along, all night long, all the time. He's not interested in it . . . and he didn't look interested in it. It was more of the same, from his perspective.
On the leather sofa beside me were the five newspapers that are laid out for him every time he travels. “In every one of those someone is saying something nasty about you,” I said to him. “You turn on the television and you could find people being even nastier. If I’m president, I’m thinking, I’ll just walk around pissed off all the time, looking for someone to punch.”So there he was, forced to stand up next to a big old bullshitter. I think he couldn't take the guy all that seriously.
He shook his head. He doesn’t watch cable news, which he thinks is genuinely toxic.
So why am I optimistic? This. The president on the basketball court.
Obama was 20 or more years older than most of them, and probably not as physically gifted, though it was hard to say because of the age differences. No one held back, no one deferred. Guys on his team dribbled past him and ignored the fact he was wide open. When he drives through the streets, crowds part, but when he drives to the basket large, hostile men slide over to cut him off. It’s revealing that he would seek out a game like this but even more that others would give it to him: no one watching would have been able to guess which guy was president. As a player on the other team, who must have outweighed Obama by a hundred pounds, backed the president of the United States down and knocked the crap out of him, all for the sake of a single layup, I leaned over to the former Florida State point guard.He likes to win. He's got to know that what happened in Denver matters to outcomes he cares about, which means, I'm confident, that we're going to see something special the next time those two men share a stage.
“No one seems to be taking it easy on him,” I said.
“If you take it easy on him, you’re not invited back,” he explained.