Be Audacious, Barack
The ubiquitous Barack Obama came to the Barnes & Noble at Union Square yesterday and took over the top floor. There must have been about six hundred people crammed in there, and the experience only confirmed my belief that bookstores are the worst places to have booksignings. Erin MacLean and I went in there the other day to search for copies of Unbowed
by Lantern author Wangari Maathai and found ourselves swamped by hordes of 10-year-olds singing along to the accordian-playing Lemony Snicket
, whose latest (and last) unfortunate adventure had just been published. So packed was it that they'd had to shut down the escalators because of fears of pile up. Just rent City Hall next time!
Anyway, Barack had to come in via the freight entrance, which was at the rear of the floor. This meant that as he walked to the front, where he was to speak and sign books, ripples of applause broke out and he began to shake hands along the rope-line (yes, there was a rope-line). Cameras flashed like stroboscopes and people cheered. The man smiled, and you could feel six hundred hearts (including mine) beat a little faster at the possibility that this guy, finally, might be The One. A neophyte ready to be the Neo who would fight, and win.
Obama spoke about his new book, The Audacity of Hope
, in a mellifluous baritone no doubt assisted by years of cigarette smoking. The book was, he said, his effort to present those values that all Americans could tap into, a move away from the divisive rhetoric of the past several years. The crowd was, like him, a melange of diversity and backgrounds and age-groups. We dared to hope it might represent America.
On my way out, an older white man and I discussed Obama's options. The man wondered whether Obama would run against Hillary, whom he thought could win the presidency. Not so, a younger white woman chimed in, Hillary would never win. I thought about Hillary's "negatives" (the people who'll never forgive her for being a woman and a Clinton). I thought of Obama's skin color and his name, and wondered to myself about his chances in a country that enjoyed killing those who were audacious and hopeful, or associated themselves with people of color. I suggested to the older man that I thought people wanted Obama to run with
Hillary and not against her. The man's eyes brightened: "Now, that
would be quite a ticket," he said. Quite a ticket, indeed.