Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the ... Already Perfect

I've read this and heard this already, but Nate Silver is the one I'll quote. He said that yesterday he was distressed because Obama's speech was not more "joyous and celebratory." though he feels better today. All I can respond is that a somber, thoughtful and by any measure *eloquent* speech was appropriate in the moment.

My wife and I and, I wager, a strong majority of Americans were already joyous and celebratory. The fact of Obama's election is something from which one almost fears one might wake up. I think of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes:

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

My friends, I thought the election of a man with such a name and such a pedigree in such a country at such a moment in our history was impossible. Who was optimist enough to put it in the category of "improbable"?

Hope and joy were a given yesterday morning. Obama had the wisdom not to wallow in our ecstasy. Had he gone in for poetry he might have permanently damaged my health, to wit:

It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

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