Obama at the Helm Charts a Course Worthy of Jules Feiffer as Fred Astaire

Posted on August 9, 2010


In reviewing some old Jules Feiffer cartoons I have saved over the years, I came upon one of  his most famous.  It  centers around his fascination with Fred Astaire.  He wants to be a great dancer like Fred (Feiffer was taken with the dance as seen in his work).

Since he cannot be as disciplined as Astaire, he takes a cartoon of the great dancer with top hat and tails and puts him through the paces of his own life.  In appreciation of Mr. Feiffer’s art, I will not reproduce that cartoon here.  He is lecturing in front of a slide of it in the photo above.

I will reproduce the marvelous text:

There’s one thing I should have been that I’m not: Fred Astaire.

But I don’t have the talent or discipline to be Fred Astaire. So I do the next best thing.

I tap dance my way through life.

I tap dance my way through relationships. Around my family. In and out of personal crises

At times I wish I could slow down long enough for some Ginger Rodgers to catch me.

But when one of them comes too close…. I tap dance away.

Sensational, but isolated.

The Curse of Fred Astaire.

Feiffer dealt effectively with the outsider, the loner who didn’t want to be accepted so much as he wanted to keep up with things.  He could have created Barack Obama – especially the Barack Obama of American foreign policy.

For all of his moves in the Middle East to get Turkey and others involved, things have fallen away. In Afghanistan, the Dutch are leaving the theater.  China has kept him at arm’s length. South America has turned a cold shoulder to him.  Mexico has stood up to his policies right under his nose and Canada has been noticeably quiet. Sarkozy has soured on him.  Only the fellow Newbie, Prime Minister Cameron of Britain has been here to make amends. The list of mild to cold world governments is endless.  Were there a need to gather forces to fight injustice somewhere, we’d have to do it alone.  Perhaps this is why on this day our Defense Secretary Gates has presented a revamped organizational chart for the Department and the military to make us lean and mean.  We may have to go it alone more in the future.