Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Power

Even today, I'm told, there are wild regions of Ireland, beyond the pale of Dublin, or any other fair city, where rustic folk still adhere to the old ways.

The story is from the Clancy Brothers, about the time, just after the bumbershoot had been invented, when the Bishop came riding up to the little house of Shamus and his brother, in a driving rain.

Shamus was looking out the window as rider and horse approached, and he called out for his brother to come see.

"It's the Bishop," the brother said.

Shamus said, "Aye, but what's that thing that's got hold of him?"

"It's a contraption."

They watched intently until the Bishop arrived at their door.

The brother said, "Look, he's dry as a bone."

Shamus said, "He'll never get that thing through the door."

But, when they opened the door, the Bishop stopped outside, raised his contraption to the sky and appeared to wrestle with it, whereupon the contraption collapsed with a whooop! until it was thin as a stick. He then walked through the door and propped the thing up in a corner.

When it came time to go, the rain was still coming down. The Bishop retrieved his contraption and got back on his horse. Then he held the thing up with both hands and suddenly, with another whooop!, it swelled out again like a great, black, menacing bird.

The brothers watched in silence as the Bishop rode away.

Finally, Shamus said, in a hushed tone, "They have the Power. "

I thought about that last week, when I watched Obama, intent upon a fly. He regarded it with a look of total concentration.

What followed was a feat of ordinary mayhem, of such skill that few possess it. Obama not only killed the fly with his bare hands, he knew he could do it. If he had not been certain, he would not have tried. Because he was on camera. And he knew the press would report it, with glee, either way.

As a moment, it was sublime. And not without a larger purpose, a chance to convey a message to every hall and hovel in the world.

He has the Power.

And he's not afraid to use it.

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