Separation Anxiety

obama congress

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Members of Congress as he makes his way through the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Just before the divorce attorney welcomes me, I warn myself, be sure. Because when the lawyer asks my husband’s name, I’ll have to say, “Barack Obama.”

No need for an alarm clock following that. A lifelong insomniac, I lull myself to sleep and usually stay in dreamland via NPR and Pacifica. So as soon as my brain defuzzed sufficiently, I understood why our president was in my subconscious. But no one on the radio had talked about the First Couple divorcing. What sparked my unhappy thoughts and feelings? And why weren’t they surprising me?

In the dream I could not bring myself to attend the president’s dress rehearsal for his next big speech. I didn’t want to hear bold pronouncements, sure only to sputter out into tepid reality. And I realized that the joy I remembered from our early days together was gone.

Beyond marveling at the obvious weirdness, I wondered how many women (and, what the heck? men) might have had similar dreams. A few Google clicks later I found idreamofbarack from May 2008, with an array of vivid entries — involving breast pumps, The Lord of the Rings and, of course, sex, from 150 respondents about the then-candidate. When the host of that site stopped posting, a psychologist/dream researcher named Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D. took over at idreamofobama. According to Bulkeley, “Hundreds, if not thousands, of people all around the world have had actual nighttime dreams in which Barack Obama has appeared and interacted with them on a very human level.” In the most recent entry, the dreamer can’t hear what President Obama is saying, though they’re in the same room.

And there’s a terrific New York Times Obama dream musing from February 2009. If writer Judith Warner is always as prescient as her last line demonstrates, I’d trust her to invest all my money if I had any.

To date, I’ve found no other Obama divorce dreams online. In the real world, however, progressives are separating from the president, though a majority continues to support him.

At the California Democratic Party’s (CDP) recent Executive Board meeting, Progressive Caucus members resolved to consider supporting a primary challenge next year (I belong to the caucus but didn’t attend that meeting. I’m not sure how I would have voted. Either choice leads straight to pain).

It turns out that all 19 CDP caucuses happened to be up for re-certification as official party groups. Eighteen won routine approval. But led by the African-American Caucus, the CDP voted to table the re-certification vote for the Progressive Caucus till later this year. Party officials hope the parties will cool down by then, so at least one hope — if not change — will probably be realized.

My worst long-range political nightmare is watching the next Republican president appoint even one Supreme Court justice (Go Ralph Nader for President in 2000!). Maybe my recent dream ended when it did so that I could avoid choosing whether to stay with someone whose major decisions have disappointed, confused and angered me. Many of us progressives wish we could hook up with an alternative candidate or change the system so issues counted more than office seekers.

wendy blockEven if the president reprises his compelling campaign ways soon, it may be impossible for me to trust his vows or even his aspirations. But I’ll vote for him and probably work pretty hard for him, which most of my liberal buddies will do, too. I’m sure of that. Unfortunately, so probably is he.

Wendy Block

Republished with the author’s permission from Huffington Post


  1. Lauren Steiner says

    I have to disagree with you Wendy. I won’t be donating, working or even voting for Obama. He should actually run in the Republican Party, They need a smart, sane candidate. That would it would leave the Democratic field free for a real Democrat, if any of them exist any more. My favorite politician right now, Bernie Sanders, is a Socialist Independent.

    And I disagree with your comment about Ralph Nader. He had every right to run. He was more true to the traditional Democratic values than Gore. Why is it always the more progressive candidate that has to back down or back out? If Gore had been more progressive, maybe Nader would have backed out. I don’t know. All I know is people keep blaming Nader’s however many votes in Florida for Gore’s loss. Why not blame Katherine Harris for purging all those supposed felons from the voter rolls. That number was greater than Nader’s votes. Or blame Terese Lepore for designing the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach county where people, like my mother, ended up voting for Pat Buchanan. Or blame Gore for running a lousy campaign and conceding too fast. Or blame the Supreme Court who overreached fantastically by stopping the recount which Gore would have won. I am so tired of people always blaming truth tellers like Nader who point out that the two parties have become essentially the same, both ruled by their corporate paymasters. I’m only sorry there is no one in 2012 to fill that role.

    Finally I’m not so sure a Republican president would be such a bad idea. It would revive the Democratic opposition which for the past three years has laid low allowing Obama to incorporate every Republican idea into his programs. You’ll remember that Bush failed utterly when trying to privatize Social Security. Yet no one said boo when Obama appointed his supposedly bi-partisan deficit commission, at once legitimizing the Republican frame that the deficit is our worst problem, and offering a presidentially countenanced venue for “reforming” Social Security which surely means cutting it. Social Security does not contribute to the deficit, is fully funded by a separate fund which is solvent until 2037 and would be for longer if they just raised the payroll cap. Yet it was a Democratic president, Obama, that put on the table the idea that it needs to be “reformed.”

    I could go on and on about the torture and extraordinary rendition programs that continue under Obama, the financial team who bailed out Wall Street and not Main Street and the horrible betrayals to the environment that most recently included overturning the decision of his EPA chief and the unanimous panel of scientists on the new ozone regulations. And mark my words, he is almost certain to approve the Keystone XL pipeline which, if build will be “game over” for the environment, according to climate scientist James Hansen. So no, I will not be donating, working or voting for this man.

  2. Joe Weinstein says

    Not only are well over 100 federal judgeships vacant – without a peep from the presidential bully pulpit about Republican obstruction – but for over half of those vacancies Obama hasn’t even sent up a nomination to be obstructed !! Obama is apparently holding all those vacancies open for the next Republican president to fill. So much for Obama’s heroics on Supreme Court appointments.

  3. Jerry Drucker says

    As always, Wendy, an excellent article. How unfortunate the American Dream has been turned into our nation’s worst nightmare. What came to mind for me was Al Gore, our duly elected President in 2000 and his divorce. Who knew?

  4. says

    You go girl! I’m concerned about the progressive caucus’s future and what that says about free speech and freedom to express our thoughts in our Democratic Party. I guess we’ll find out in November.

  5. Craig says

    If you go to the Tea Party web site and look up local chapters you don’t see one local web site which sort of makes you realize that something else is going on, like a centralized orchestrated organization, not a party. If you go to a local Democratic Party event you realize that its not really an organization that involves the thousands of local Democrats. In a was the Tea Party astro turf is a form of the Democratic Party’s approach in our “no party” system where interest groups not people have power.

  6. pigdog67 says

    Do the right thing. Vote for an independent. Obama is an opportunist. He knew the repubs would not nominate a black guy. So he pretended to be a democrat. He is a closet republican. He has a shrine to dubya and Reagan in his home. Get a life…

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