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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

watch it: the weekly address from President-elect Barack Obama

I feel like Fox Mulder every time I hear Obama speak: I want to believe. It doesn’t mean I do believe, just that I would like to be able to.

Obama talks here about the sacrifice of our servicepeople and their families, and I want to believe that this isn’t just the same empty rhetoric we’ve gotten from the current president, and that Obama will actually do something to fix all the terrible wrongs we’ve been handing our military personnel, from neglecting to equip them properly while they’re in harm’s way to refusing to treat their ills once they get home.

I want to believe that when Obama says, “We share a common destiny as Americans” that he believes it, and that he might right some of the imbalances of recent years that appear to deny that common destiny. (Giving free taxpayer money to megabanks to pay multimillion-dollar bonuses to the executives that toppled not just their own companies but our economy on the whole while refusing to bail out automobile manufacturers unless their rank-and-file workers pay for the misdeeds of their executives is only the latest outrage, but perfectly symbolic of the way things have been going for the last few decades.) I’d like to believe that when Obama says, “Now we must all do our part to serve one another,” he’s including those who’ve gotten wealthy and stayed wealthy off the taxpayers’ teat, from millionaires who pay a far smaller percentage of their income in taxes than hourly workers do to corporations who shelter their profits overseas.

I want to believe that when Obama mentions “that first American Christmas” of 1776 (there’s a movie about it), he’s making an allusion to the fact that America exists because of the daring, imaginative, out-of-the-box campaign that George Washington led on that day, and that perhaps we can expect daring, imaginative, out-of-the-box stuff from Obama, too. I really want to believe that because Obama speaks like someone with an IQ in the triple digits — unlike our current president, who speaks to us as if we’re morons and only makes himself sound like one — that means there may be some deeper meaning to be found in what he’s saying, that he’s connecting these ideas, too.

I’m afraid, though, that what I want to believe in may be even more unlikely than little gray aliens and UFOs.

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