more thoughts on Six Degrees

One of the reasons Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation may be relevant today is the way in which these well-heeled liberal types assuage their guilt by being entranced by and supporting Paul, who pretends to be Sidney Poitier’s son but who describes a kind of globe-trotting upbringing (Rome, Paris, Swiss boarding schools) that they themselves desire. “Oh good,” they say to themselves, “this black kid can have all these things, so we really have come a long way.” One can see nods towards support for Obama from the same sector — he’s the black man they can relate to. It’s a resonance without substance, though. I doubt one could make the case theatrically that Obama is con man like Paul, despite what the fringes of the right would say.

Or maybe this is an opportunity for those absent conservatives to make an appearance.

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One thought on “more thoughts on Six Degrees

  1. Although Obama doesn’t need to be a con man, he does share an uncanny ability with the best con men, including Paul, which is to be a reflection of a wide range of desires and beliefs. (There were, for example, a large number of pro-life voters and commentators who supported Obama, believing he’d somehow reduce abortions, even though one of his first acts in office was to lift a ban of U.S. funding of abortion providers.)

    We feel wonderful about ourselves if we help someone who (a) needs our support, (b) is in a group that’s perceived to need our help, and (c) seems to reflect ourselves. As with Paul though, it will be interesting to see what happens when our internal fantasies contend with the facts on the ground. While being the least experienced major party nominee since Wendell Willkie isn’t the same as lying to everyone around you, both situations could have enormous ramifications, especially when the world’s economy has a far greater impact on humanity than one man’s actions among Manhattan socialites.

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