Thursday, September 16, 2010

Obama’s moment and the rise of the summer moon

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 9/16/10

One of Google’s gifts is the Promethean fire: We can see the world in pictures in an instant and know ourselves in a new way. I recently ran across an image of this happy valley of the universe we live in; the world with its magnetic fields sending electronic waves in beautiful fountains at the North Pole and at the South Pole. Next to it was a similar picture of the earth shifting its poles. The fountains were gone and it looked like a child had scribbled all along the edges. That is what “change” means. We live in such a time and it is beginning to take a purchase.

A thoughtful reader, Diane from New Mexico, writes about a May, 1979 article in The Atlantic by James Fallows. “The article explains why Carter made a compelling candidate, but more importantly, why he was not a good president,” she writes. “In reading through it I was struck by the fact that you could insert ‘Obama’ for every mention of ‘Carter’ and the entire article would ring true today.”

It is a delight to have such a reader. About a week before he was elected I think I wrote that Obama fulfilled a national and historic purpose by being a black president. That it all he would be, the final postscript in the John Brown, Lincoln, Grant, Obama narrative. Case closed. When history completes its cycle, it moves on. And we are on a rising arc of power in this country and at the cusp of a new historic movement. It will begin in Comanche country where Diane lives.

Obama would be a "moment" just as Carter was; a period of rest and pause between the difficult war in Vietnam and the Reagan period. Today we see strength rising in the west: Look at America as twin or binary empires like Rome and Greece with the capitals at New York and Dallas instead of Rome and Constantinople. The New England sensibility, tagged along with the New Yorkers to attempt to give them a little tradition, which constantly looks over its shoulder to Mother England, is hundreds of years old and worn threadbare. The Comanche/Dallas empire has a fierce heart and a Scotch/Irish tradition. It is Baptist and Methodist and born at the Alamo with hardly a memory of England. More like the Lone Ranger who rose from the dead in the desert by the clairvoyant abilities of an Indian shaman. He had no memory of his Euro past. He wore a mask because his identity was not yet revealed, even to himself.

S.C. Gwynne’s “Empire of the Summer Moon,” is a remarkable history the great half-blood chief, Quanah Parker, and of the Comanche wars which settled Texas and the Southwest. It is a story which only ended in my father’s lifetime; a new period of American awakening only begun in my father’s lifetime. Yankees who like being Americans must read it because it is our story and it must be accommodated in Yankee mind (think Bill Belichick). Because although it may not come naturally to us, Comanche heart is our heart as well.

We live today at the beginning of the century between the Yankee mind of New England and the Comanche heart of the west. The Comanche heart is winning the day. We fought the war in Iraq with the Comanche heart, not the Yankee mind. If we New Englanders do not like it we should think of another arrangement. Because the Comanche heart is Rick Perry’s Texas and Sarah Palin’s Alaska and the summer moon is rising.

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