Obama in Hallmark Land

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL September 9, 2011
From here, in Smallsville, it is disorientating to watch President Obama unveil his $450-billion package of tax cuts and spending plans aimed at creating jobs and bolstering the economy. In the great capital of a nation once great (and which could be great again) the President addressed a joint session of Congress and warned that he would be prepared for push to come to shove – and that he would do the shoving (by taking his message to every corner of the nation). The hallmark of the address was probably hope. But out here in conservative, chronically slow Smallsville, the speech might have been in a Hallmark land of corny prose and cute sentiments, peopled with 21st century Alices, Doormice and Mad Hatters. 
They can talk the talk in D.C. Out in Smallsville, they live by – and suffer from – the political tunnel vision, paralysis and poor judgement that has undone America. The wonder is they do not really realize it. Consider this: Why do we call Africa underdeveloped? Because it suffers from a discernible and discomfort-inducing lack of public transport. I would posit that the same could be said of the USA, a vast continent-sized country that has such little public transport available one needs to drive anywhere and everywhere. We can talk more about the index of development and discernible well-being later.
Back to the President’s jobs-creation plan. If any of it happens can it – will it – put fire back in the bellies of Americans? Out here, in Smallsville, they really need it. There appears to be precious little drive to succeed, excel, build, re-build, prosper, conquer the world (anew). There is little aspiration to put Smallsville on the map (any map). 
And yet, there are two sets of young people I met recently. The first is a young man who rejoices in yolk-yellow T-shirts with a zippy convertible to match and multi-coloured sunglasses. He’s taken over his father’s successful lawn maintenance business and he works hard and well and honestly. Just recently, he told me he was going back to college (even as he works all the hours his business needs to prosper and thrive). He plans to study juvenile justice, with the eventual aim of becoming a defence attorney. I was mightily impressed. It sounded like something an Indian would say except that Indian sons wouldn’t normally expect to have to pay their way through college.
Then there’s the young builder who says his partner bartends part-time and goes to nursing school the rest of the week. This, as they bring up their young son. 
That’s drive – and commitment to a dream. The American Dream. Even in Smallsville, there’s the occasional gleam in the eye. Sadly, it’s just not often enough.
By Gary McCoy,Cagle Cartoons