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Monday, June 1, 2009

The Way of All Flesh

A world leader should be applauded, not criticised, for going to the theatre

President Obama promised his wife during a gruelling election campaign that when it was over he would take her to a Broadway show. He fulfilled that campaign pledge on Saturday. The couple attended a performance of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by the late August Wilson and then went to a restaurant. They travelled by official plane and motorcade, at public expense and causing traffic disruption: hence Republican criticism of supposed extravagance at a time of economic hardship for Americans. The criticism is worse than mean spirited: it is wrong.

The President is of necessity a public figure rather than any longer a private citizen. That does not mean he should live in an official cocoon. It does entail that he travels by official transport to ensure his safety. The notion that he would be a better public servant if he were denied the private pleasures of theatre-going and dining in company is hard to fathom. The only ostensible sense it makes is that the arts and good food are fripperies that a world leader should have neither need nor time to indulge in. That is dangerous as well as arrant nonsense.

As Denis Healey, the most cultured of postwar British politicians, recalled in retirement: “Without the arts, politics would before long have encrusted me in a horny carapace; my persona would have taken over from my personality, and the mask would have become the man.”

Without an appreciation of a world more enduring than statecraft, a politician lacks a collective wisdom provided by artists, and a source of solace in hard times. Put simply ; All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And President Obama is not dull.

Sir Dayvd ( who plays rather more than he works ) of Oxfordshire


  1. Amen on this one Sir D! When Lincoln got shot at the Ford Theater nobody criticised him for being there.

    It's ok to take your political buddies hunting and shoot them in the face at tax payers expense, but not for the first couple to maintain a steady and romantic relationship.

    It seems the right wing has forgotten the meaning of the first fight song of this country, "Give me liberty or give me death!"

    Sir Hook Who Plays Even More Than Sir D of Warrick

  2. my eternal shame and continued poverty, my slacking, playing, under-achieving and generally not working exceeds anybody's I know.

    Sir D, (who is playing right now instead of working ) of Oxfordshire..

  3. There comes a time in every working mans (or ladies for that matter) life when you just have to say..."F**K IT!"

    It sounds that I like you, have those moments with more frequency the older I get. "Work is the curse of the drinking class!"

    Sir Hook Who's Ready for the Next Play of Warrick