Sunday, December 5, 2010
Barack Hussein Obama unexpectedly flew to Afghanistan this week for three reasons: to raise the morale of American troops, to be photographed wearing a flight jacket and stitches, and - most importantly - to give him a chance to say "Tollybon."
Tollybon, tollybon, tollybon!
There are some sounds which have almost unbelievable power to shred nerves and annoy. Fingernails on a chalkboard. The cries of a baby in a movie theater. President Bush saying "nook-you-ler." But topping the list, for us anyway, is Mr. Obama's aggressively nuanced styling of the word "Taliban."
When he says "Tollybon," the word is clipped and distinct, vowels are reshaped, and the sound is redolent with exotic spices from the Far East...as if to deliberately remind us that the president deserves special credibility because he was raised in a Muslim culture in Indonesia. He spits the word out like an insult to plainspoken, unworldly Americans who lack his multi-cultural roots.
And with that one word, Barack Obama reminds us that the conversation is really, and always, about him.
Not the troops. Not the war. Not our country. Not even, truly, about the Taliban - even when speaking to the American men and women whose lives are on the line in a distant land.