Sunday, September 19, 2010

B.B. King And Politics?

Who would have ever thunk it: the B.B. King effect is in full play for the mid-term elections. Let me explain.

After attending the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 40th Annual Legislative Conference last night in Washington, where President Obama delivered a speech, I came away humming that B.B. King classic, "The Thrill Is Gone." Having watched the president deliver that speech the year before and seeing the crowd's reaction, it was clear that something was amiss.

How could this be? Afterall, President Obama, in his usual eloquence, ticked off a number of major accomplishments his administration has scored over the past 20 months. You know them by now: saving the economy from the brink of disaster, historic health care legislation and new financial regulations, keeping the US auto industry alive and, of course, getting the car out of the ditch as others watch.

With such a string of accomplishments, how could the audience just go through the motions with its appreciation and applause? There were no gleaming eyes or broad faced smiles like last year. Sure, a standing ovation and a lot of laughter when the subject of giving the keys back was discussed, but not much else.

Could it be that the audience was tired from three days of continuous "brain trusts" and never-ending, late-night receptions? Or was something else at play? Maybe they were waiting to show their enthusiasm once the President walked the ropes to shake a few hands and throw a few finger-point shoutouts. Well, it didn't happen because he didn't walk the ropes. Maybe he was tired, too.

In any event, if the hopes of those who helped to put the President into office are to be realized, somebody -- somewhere -- should be working overtime to get that once dynamic zeal back in place.

It is sorely needed because last night was proof undenied that, as Mr. King would say, the thrill is gone.

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