Tears and Rain

215px-Chabonsigning Michael Chabon over at Ta-Nehisi Coates's blog (picture from wikipedia):

I've been thinking about the president's speech all night and this morning, how something about it left me feeling left out. Obama's presence—physical, moral, emotional—was palpable. It carried the charge of authority, of mastering a moment. You felt that he was acknowledging, reflecting, and accepting the hardness of life, drawing freely and even generously on his own experience of sorrow and on his capacity to imagine the sorrow of others. When he reached his peroration, as he moved from an invocation of the innocence and immanence of the dead little girl to a call, part admission, part admonishment, part fatherly exhortation, for Americans “to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations,” the speech found it true importance, its profundity. To attempt to live up to your children's expectations—to hew to the ideals you espouse and the morals that you lay down for them—is to guarantee a life of constant failure, a failure equivalent with parenthood itself. Surely this is something that the father of Malia and Sasha Obama knows all too well. Choking up at one point, imagining the Taylor-Greens' loss, it seemed to me, in terms of his own unimaginable bereavement, Obama was figuring himself (extraordinarily, I think) not as the Great Father but, more messily and searchingly, as an imperfectly lowercase father, “shaken from [his] routines … forced to look inward,” struggling in the wake of calamity to reclaim and to strive to measure up to a set of principles the burden of whose observance falls so unevenly on the narrow shoulders of the young. He was, at that moment, talking directly to me.

And yet … Was it all the weird, inappropriate clapping and cheering? Or the realization that I am so out of touch with the national vibe that I didn't know that whistling and whooping and standing ovations are, when someone evokes the memory of murdered innocent people, totally cool?