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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 11.09.08
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

What's in a name? Four years of fun!

STANSTEAD, QC | I am misty-eyed with pride and admiration for our American neighbours. Many thought we'd never see this day, the day when the United States would show true resolve for change, the day when they would resurrect the frontier spirit.

The day when they would elect a president with a funny sounding name.

Barack Hussein Obama.

God bless you, America!

Never in the history of the United States has there been a president with a name so full of possibility. Sure, there was James Polk. And Herbert Hoover may have been named after a vacuum cleaner but it never would have crossed anyone's mind in 1930 to say, "Hoover sucks." Opportunities lost...

Lincoln had a vice-president named Hannibal Hamlin, which sounds like the secret identity of a Marvel superhero. (Superpower? Able to emancipate at the speed of light. Weakness? Fried okra.) But such a name wouldn't have raised a chuckle back in the 19th century when people routinely named their kids Oral. Plus, vice-presidents don't count. (Sorry, Dan Quayle.)

Roosevelt? Eisenhower? Hard to spell, but funny? Forget about it!

But Obama! Why, it practically sings! In fact, I would give my left amendment to see Little Richard perform "Tutti Frutti" at Obama's inauguration: "Barack-bok-Obama, Barock-bam-boom!" So much better than that lame "Raising McCain" song.

Yes, America, you could have played it safe and elected a John (rhymes with "yawn"). But instead you embraced change and the potential of not one but two, possibly three funny names.

Already, punsters are hard at work monkeying with the president-elect's moniker. The website "Urban Dictionary," for example, lists "Obameter" (a theoretical device that measures how well Obama's doing in the polls), "Baracknophobia" (an irrational fear of an African-American president) and "Obamabot" (someone who voted for Obama without knowing a thing about the man or his policies).

And here's one of my own: When Obama releases his first economic policies, it'll be known as "Barackonomics." You read it here first!

A policy to support American agriculture will benefit Obama Farmas.

Drug policy? "Just say Nobama."

Here's a sign for the Oval Office door - "If it ain't Barack, don't fix it." Not sure what that means but it sure sounds good. It's yours, Big O!

But there's more to four-to-eight years of good satire and fun-making than just a name ("Obama-bama-bo-bama, banana-fana-fo-fama, fee-fi-mo-mama, Obama!"). There's the whole personality, the quirks, the ticks, the flaws, the gaffs, the laffs. As a target of satire, how will President Obama measure up?

Physically, there are the ears. And he is kind of skinny. But once you make it into the pages of People's "Sexiest Beach Bods" issue, you pretty much get a free pass.

Unlike the last five presidents, Obama has no strong accent or idiosyncratic speaking style. Just because Obama is black, you can't just go putting hip-hop slang in his mouth ("Obama's New Dealio"). That wouldn't be cool and it wouldn't be true. Obama is a warm, likeable, silver-tongued orator. He's more puppy dog than Snoop Dogg.

And therein lies our hope. Seriously, "hope" is our hope. Our source of fun might be the Obama all-purpose "hope" speech:

"And America has hoped for this change, and changed their hopes to a new hope, where change is not something you beg for on the street but something that you hope will bring hope to the hopeless -- and the homeless, who need more than change, but a genuine hope for a better tomorrow and a dry, warm tonight. At least, I hope that's what they hope for..."

Really, though, Barack Obama is almost untouchable right now. ("Obamessiah" - another "Urban Dictionary" word). The satirists can only keep their fingers crossed that in the coming months, Obama utters verbal gaffs, introduces appalling policies, distorts the facts, lies to the country, indulges in cronyism, alienates the rest of the world, violates the spirit of the constitution and dismisses human rights.

In other words: Dubya, we're gonna miss you.

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