Obamarama

100 Days, 100 Nights

“100 Days, 100 Nights,” Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

NPR.org, October 24, 2007 – The horns slide down a chromatic run, all sad and blue. It sounds as if “100 Days, 100 Nights” will be a downer — like the band is going to launch into “The Volga Boat Song” or something. Then in jumps Sharon Jones, queen of retro funk, who was once told that she was too short and too dark-skinned to be a star, but kept on singing anyway. The tempo quickens, and the gut-wrenching force of her voice wipes away the sorrowful intro.

Every time I heard someone talk about President Barack Obama’s First 100 Days and how he was either going too fast or too slow, doing too little or not doing enough, being over-exposed to not transparent, being too specific to too obtuse, being ambitious to being pedestrian I thought of the title to an adolescent novel I read in high school, “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.”

Some would argue that Obama did promise a rose garden of changes on the campaign trail in the soaring rhetoric of his speeches that left so many slack jawed in awe, but every promise and vow was contingent on a system designed for debate and dissent. You can be “the one you are waiting for” but if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t quite take the same “lobbyist = bad” and fewer earmarks pledge you’re going to run up against some ambition opposition.

Dogs bark. Trees grow. Democrats fight. They’ve always fought. That’s why despite the common conservative criticism of the Democrats not living up to their “Democratic” title, they’re actually quite Democratic in you can be completely dismissive of the president even if he’s from your own party and go down fighting and obfuscating the whole way. While Obama promised to bring change to Washington, I don’t recall the Congressional Democrats running on any agenda other than their theme “Stop hurting America! Elect more Democrats!” But while this may surprise some, but I actually PREFER this.

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While I want to see Obama’s ambitious agenda largely pass, I want there to be actual debate and real examination of the issues at hand. The most horrifying thing about the years 2000 through 2006 weren’t the Bushes or the wars or 9-11, but the fact that we had a president who signed almost everything Congress sent up without question and a Congress that signed on for whatever the president wanted without question. How much did the war actually cost? Who knew? It wasn’t in the budget. Why did the prescription drug bill have to be passed in the middle of the night? Doesn’t matter because no one saw the ugliest vote in the history of voting on C-SPAN in the twilight. The hardliners had instituted a top-down structure that included regular woodshed beatings and head knockings by Tom Delay for wayward moderates and conservatives who didn’t tow the line.

Fun times!

Can’t say that did a thing for the Republican Party, all that forced solidarity and fidelity, considering it got them out of office and now they’re leader-less, but I welcome a return to James Carville’s “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I belong to the Democratic Party,” that “Hey, everybody! Let’s fight for the hell of it because D.C.’s gone BLUE and the Republicans can just say no to everything! Wheeee!” attitude.

I know, it looks frustrating, but this is what government is actually supposed to look like.

Like a hot mess.

Obama’s had an interesting 100 days and 100 nights of wins and losses, of favorable press and of negative mini-controversies, of appointees who couldn’t do their taxes, of fluff, of seriousness, of international celebration and curiosity, of foreign intrigue, of budgets and bills, of Easter Egg Rolls and of Nancy Pelosi’s pursed lips of disapproval then the grin of “I’m not really disapproving!” But I prefer the Pelosi-Obama political dance of a 1,000 “Excuse me, sirs and ma’ams” to the old ways.

While Sharon Jones sings the most apropos song I could find, replace “man done me wrong” vibe with the blues of getting both your dream job and the hardest job in the world and you can think of how this had to be one hard 100 days and nights. It’s not like the country was even in remotely good shape. And then there was the stuff we actually knew about. Goodness only knows of the secret fires that had to be extinguished silently and kept from newspaper headlines. But Obama, per usual, has handled it all with such panache you wouldn’t even know he was undergoing any sort of internal struggles.

But it’s there. And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

How do you think he did?

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9 thoughts on “100 Days, 100 Nights

  1. Erika M says:

    I think he’s gone full throttle and has done some pretty important things: signing the Ledbetter fair pay bill, adding health insurance for millions of uninsured children, bringing diplomacy back. And he’s always so cool. Nothing has really happened yet that has rubbed me completely the wrong way. A friend of mine who is an educator does not like how much he supports the charter schools; my aunt who used to be a lobbyist is concerned about how hard-hitting he’s been toward the lobbyists. Those are a couple of dissenting voices I’ve heard. I would be curious to hear what others have to say about charter schools v. public schools. In other news, I love the part in the song where she slows it down, very soulful.

  2. The A says:

    "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars." Les Brown "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." Oscar WildeConsidering the current state of our union, I think he is doing an outstanding job. I don’t believe his expectations can be too high or his agenda can be too aggressive or ambitious. He is fighting against massive wildfires that had an 8-year head start on his administration. I say the more the better & keep it coming! Much love to the wife, kids & mother-in-law.The 30-sec news cycle doesn’t provide a long term perspective. I hadn’t noticed that the black news pundits were gone because I left CNN before they did. I’m back down to CSPAN, the Daily Show headlines, & political blogs.

  3. The A says:

    & I agree with you on the need for dissent and debate in government. Good stuff!BTW, thanks for the fix. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are coming to 9:30 Club in DC & Rams Head in Baltimore next month. I’m all maxed out on the going out funds so I’m still trying to figure out how to get to the show.I wonder if I declare myself a bank, can I apply for some of that good stimulus money?

  4. dukedraven says:

    The old songs still sound great, better than today’s music, to use a common cliche. Obama is doing a fine job, even with a few missteps like Geithner and bonus debacle. I said it before and I’ll say it again: We’re lucky to have Obama as our first black president.

  5. Lite Bread says:

    Beautiful Snob,Sharon Jones!!!! Wow. Now THIS touches my heart so (I kinda hate the divisive, mean-spirited and often violent nature of politics).And it made me think … and think some more. And got me really curious on your ‘take’ on what I was thinking.Did you notice Sharon Jones’ band? See, they are mostly white! Yes, the guys actually playing the music to back her totally incredible voice are almost all white. It made me ponder the huge shifts in music the last 30 years, especially for African/American’s (note: is that the term I use, lol?).Do you remember (or retro’d it, lol) the tremendous explosion of great talent and unique music that culminated in the fantastic Funk bands of the late 70’s? Groups like Parliament/Funkadelic, Slave, Brass Construction, the original Cameo (I can still hear “Funk-Funk”) and tons of others. It reminded me of the great contributions in music that black musicians in America are responsible for, like Jazz and Blues, forms of music art fully rooted in their experiences of life. These people had such huge talents, to conceive, write, play, original music and perform ‘knock-out’ concerts (man, when Funkadelic would do Maggot Brain and Eddie Hazel would take off on the guitar work, you’d be transported to another place, lol). Then Rap happened. Now, I understand it’s “place” (especially the social relevance of the original stuff, like NWA), but it has eaten the heart out of truly creative music that black Americans produce for mainstream consumption. Now, instead of guys and girls who dream of being in the music biz going and joining the school band, Football Pep band and such, learning music and really playing something (even if it is their voice, aka Marvin Gaye/Sam Cook) they just gonna “rap”. And have to ‘build’ the appropriate imagine (gotta be street, ya know. Real cred). There just is no real talent left there anymore. So today you have these tremendous music forms, like Jazz, Blues, Funk, etc, created by black Americans being the domain of mostly white musicians and audiences! Do you think Jay-Z even knows who John Coltrane or Miles Davis where? Is this another “lost connection” here, to the great accomplishments of the past?Add in the over-riding importance of “the look” now, with music video’s (can you picture Aretha Franklin or Diana Ross making it big now, in the era of the Beyonce effect?) and the creative talent drops further.Beautiful Snob, I’m asking in sincerity. I like some Hip-Hop. It holds more potential promise now of some creativity. But, I wonder about the longer term effect of this all. Will everything that “represents” be driven by the Russell Simmons? (Got his Rip-Off card yet, lol).Just asking. No fight intended.

  6. oci23 says:

    I think Obama is doing a fine job. The only thing that made me give him the side eye is the administration’s eerie silence on the NRA and gun control/legislation.

  7. naila says:

    @Lite Breadi completely agree thay none of the rap heard through mainstream media is quality – there is a reason for that, but you should know that there is always quality music being made on an independent level. Also, i am sure that Jay-Z and even Lil Wayne for that matter know the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and everyone else, but since knowledge doesn’t move units these days, that’s not going to be what we here them rap about. though there is plenty of fault to be laid at the hands of media gate keepers, there is also a lot of fault to be laid at the hands of the consumers that buy that crap.

  8. barbie says:

    SnobAs usual your taste is the snobbiest. Love me some Sharon Jones. Thanks for bringing it to the neighborhood.As for Obama’s 100 days (Yawn).

  9. Ama-louise says:

    Obama is a man , not a saint, nor is he the magical negro who makes all pain and suffering dissapear in the ether! he will falter like we all do! but i think he is doing a remarkable job in a horrendous situation that isn’t of his making.

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