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Hobos ‘n’ Obama

October 25, 2008

Writer John Hodgman (you may recognize him from The Daily Show or, if you turn in early, the I’m-a-Mac, I’m-a-PC knife fight commercials) has a new book coming out soon called More Information Than You Require, a sequel to his bizarrely hilarious The Areas of My Expertise, a fake almanac that contains a list of 700 Hobo names. The best, and my chosen hobo moniker: Cholly the Yegg. (“Yegg” is wonderfully defined as “an inept safecracker.”) Other great ones: Douglas, the Future of Hoboing; Ol’ Barb Stab-You-Quick. Click here for the full list of hobo names.

Hodgman is one smart cookie. In this long interview with The Onion A.V. Club, it is mentioned that he has been supporting Barack Obama with much vim and vigor, on his blog and his Twitter account and what-not. He’s asked, “What has made this election so compelling to you?”

Hodgman answers:

The thing that I find so compelling is that right now Obama’s whole campaign strategy is simply [to] speak to people as though they were adults and trust that the truth of the world situation will be evident to them. For him to be attacked as a friend of a terrorist, for “palling” around with terrorists and to simply go back and say, “No, I’m not”? That was such a refreshing political moment. It’s like he’s saying, “Oh, you know that’s not true. You know what’s happening here.” So much of the past eight years in politics, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you have to acknowledge is based on what the Bush people to themselves have described outside the reality-based community. That the words they were speaking had no basis in reality and they felt no compulsion to exist in a real world. They were creating a world of their own imagining. They were writing their own book of fake trivia and that’s a fine way to make a living, but I don’t know that it’s a very productive way to run a country. And I think we are seeing the results of that right now. So from a very selfish point of view, I’m enchanted by the idea that a politician can come along and speak simply and clearly and truthfully to an electorate as though they are grown-ups and to feel the electorate respond to that. I’ve found that to be astonishing and especially now that we are in the end game and you see basically the McCain campaign has nothing left but conspiracy theories to throw at Obama. It really has become a fight between fantasy and reality, and although I don’t make my living off of it, I endorse reality.

I was just thinking about this very thing the other day; that the reason that McCain and Palin’s whole “Americans are cravin’ that straight talk,” “Joe the Plumber” angle hasn’t gained any traction is because … that’s what Barack has been delivering all along. McCain and Palin accuse Obama of all these things, of misleading eloquence, of being elitist—But Obama has consistently been very plain-spoken and direct with the American people. His is not a gilded language; it is sturdy and simple, though also majestic and uniquely American, and I think that is a big reason why he is winning this race. Obama’s words, and how he delivers them, are the linguistic transubstantiation of “purple mountain majesties” and “amber waves of grain.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 30, 2008 10:32 pm

    nice, man. love your closer on this one. so, what’ll it be for all hallows’? werewolf, frankenstein or mummy?

  2. Ross permalink
    November 14, 2008 2:37 pm

    I also thought that an opportunity for straight talk was the Joe the Plumber encounter. Obama got blindsided and stumbled in his response, but I think it would have fair to say to him, “You make $250,000 a year. You are in the top 5% of earners. So many people are trying to make it on so much less. Imagine living on $12,000 a year. Joe, your income would be taxed at a higher rate. Period.”

    Happy Birthday, Hunter.

    ~Ross

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