Like Will Smith, who in the new film I Am Legend wakes up to find himself the last man alive in a world of zombies, am I now the only person left on the planet who finds Barack Obama a little bit dull? Every time I listen to him, I start off thinking I'm about to wet my pants, but a minute-and-a-half later find my mind wandering, asking itself things like: 'What does "the challenge of hope" mean?'
Yet I turn and look around and everyone is shouting and screaming. Obama chants: 'Something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it' and there's a collective swoon from grown pundits and hardened reporters, all of them tearing off their shirts and pleading for Obama to sign their chests with indelible marker pen. Will Smith woke up to a world of zombies: in my personal nightmare, everyone around me has an overactive thyroid.
So why does Obama, billed by everyone as a cross between Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, but without the terrible looks of either, just leave me puzzled? Maybe it's because his is a rhetoric that soars and takes flight, but alights nowhere. It declares that together we can do anything, but doesn't mention any of the things we can do. It's a perpetual tickle in the nose that never turns into a sneeze. Trying to make sense of what he's saying is like trying to wrap mist.
But, rhythmically, it's quite alluring. It can make anything, even, for example, a simple chair, seem magnificent. Why vote for someone who says: 'See that chair. You can sit on it' when you can have someone like Obama say: 'This chair can take your weight. This chair can hold your buttocks, 15 inches in the air. This chair, this wooden chair, can support the ass of the white man or the crack of the black man, take the downward pressure of a Jewish girl's behind or the butt of a Buddhist adolescent, it can provide comfort for Muslim buns or Mormon backsides, the withered rump of an unemployed man in Nevada struggling to get his kids through high school and needful of a place to sit and think, the plump can of a single mum in Florida desperately struggling to make ends meet but who can no longer face standing, this chair, made from wood felled from the tallest redwood in Chicago, this chair, if only we believed in it, could sustain America's huddled arse.'
(Armando Iannucci is a satirist, responsible for, amongst other moments of classic British comedy, The Thick of It. This will help you to understand the above.)