I haven't followed U.S. news in nearly two weeks.
I was traveling in South Africa and I was determined to stay focused on local elections and issues. So to get back on track with American political happenings I took a stack of newspapers with me on the flight from NYC to LA yesterday. Clearly, I missed a very strange time in American politics.
I am still quite jet lagged but it looks like the main headlines were pirates, pornographic protests, and a puppy.
It seems that after returning from a whirlwind world tour my president did battle with pirates. Having the benefit of reading all the news stories together in one sitting revealed a dramatic, 007-ish quality to the whole affair. American Captain taken hostage at sea by rogue band of African thugs. Decisive president taking manly action by refusing to negotiate. Government sharpshooters executing their task perfectly. Dead pirates. Triumphant America.
I had the distinct feeling I was being wagged. So I went back and checked my Twitter feed. There I uncovered the Johann Hari piece from HuffPo declaring .You are Being Lied to About Pirates.. Hari's explanation of Somali resistance against toxic intervention on their coast line recast both the story and the actors in this drama.
While Obama was out battling pirates the GOP were apparently culling Sex and the City for protest ideas. I nearly choked on my inflight pretzels when I learned that the Right was calling for Americans to teabag Obama! I thought that nothing could exceed the cultural tone deafness of Michael Steele's insistence on a Hip Hop GOP strategy, but this managed to be much funnier. Washington Post writer, Eugene Robinson warns that the White House should take the protests seriously because even if they appeared tepid, these teabaggers may represent something unseen brewing. Gene is probably right but I couldn't stop laughing at the abundant, juvenile, pornographic references.
And the Obamas got a puppy. Heartstring tugging Bo is a perfect White House dog. His black and white coat is a subtle reference to the new post racial America. His bestowal by the Kennedy patriarch is a crafty solution to the impossible problem of finding a purebred, hypoallergenic, dog of White House worthy temperament at a DC animal shelter. Bo is the bounding, canine embodiment of Obama's determination to keep his campaign promises, down the the smallest domestic detail. (Please note the irony in my tone.)
I have to rate this a win for the White House. Triumph over pirates; facing only an impotent protest; and generating aaaahhhhhh inspiring photo-ops. I bet the staff is kicking back with a few Cuban cigars to celebrate.
Now I better get some sleep. America is getting weird.