Barack Obama Reflections The Opinionsphere

The Magic of Dish-Washing

John Dickerson of Slate magazine wrote a moving piece yesterday exploring Barack Obama’s brief return to normalcy before he enters the White House. He takes a number of Obama’s comments from his 60 Minutes interview with Michelle – comments that struck me at the time – and develops this sense of melancholy they conveyed.

What made the piece moving was how Dickerson was able to relate his constantly hectic life as a political reporter covering the campaigns for the past two years with Obama’s life making the news – and how both are now suddenly returned to their everyday lives – their families who they neglected and sorely missed, their homes, their mundane routines that now seem to wonderful – washing dishes!

A symptom of the campaign bends is the temporary view that even the life’s most mundane tasks are magical. Why? Because they are discrete, yield results, and require manual labor: characteristics not associated with most campaign duties…

Any professional who has been on the road for a long period of time can identify with the drift away from a normal life. Your cooking skills are replaced by room-service-ordering skills. Gradually, you forget which floor your office is on or whether you take a left or a right turn from home to get to church. A presidential candidate experiences this bubble-wrapped life completely. He lives in a world where his meals, movements, and laundry are all taken care of for him. This is necessary so that he can focus on NAFTA and Afghanistan. If he makes a wrong turn, there is a hand to direct him gently down the correct hallway.

This highly artificial life makes a body starve for the reality it used to know. It was clear that Obama was sensitive to the simple pleasures of returning to his home environment when he described hearing his wife move around the house when she wakes up before him. He’d been away from it so long, it probably rang like thunder.

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