Essay

'The One'? Take a Number, Sen. Obama

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By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 31, 2008

Neo: What is happening to me?

Morpheus: You are the One, Neo.

-- "The Matrix"

Wags in John McCain's camp reportedly have taken to referring to Barack Obama as "the One."

It's a sendup of the messianic devotion the Obamanauts sometimes display -- the huge crowds, the tears, the soaring hopes, the rapturous chanting of "O-ba-ma!" and "Yes we can!"

Ha-ha. Next, Obama's going to don a full-length black coat, like Keanu Reeves's Neo in the 1999 film, and start jumping really high in the process of saving mankind.

It's a smart bit of political jujitsu by the McCainiacs. Try to turn an opponent's potential strength into a potential weakness. Have they concluded their guy may become the next president, but he'll never be the One?

There have been so many Ones. The human imagination seems inclined to think in terms of them: King Arthur, Superman, Anakin Skywalker (or Luke, depending on your cosmology), Bobby Kennedy, John Galt, the Who's Tommy, Frodo, Bob Dylan, Siegfried, Harry Potter, Mighty Mouse, Godot, Joe Gibbs, Storm, Wonder Woman.

The One is the one who has the Answer. He will fix a fallen world. He will bring . . . change we can believe in.

The One is usually young, and he speaks inspiringly. A second coming is nice but not always advisable. (See Gibbs, Joe.)

Being the One means passing lots of tests, because at first no one believes in you. King Arthur had to pull Excalibur out of the stone to prove he was the One. Being the One means being tempted by your dark side. Anakin Skywalker succumbed -- the One can be fallible, if not always human -- transmogrified into Darth Vader, and only at the end managed to sort of live up to Obi-Wan's anguished declaration: "You were the chosen one! It was said that you would . . . bring balance to the Force!"


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