The symbolic value of Barack Obama’s election is hard to overstate, and the jubilation of black Americans well warranted. But, being the first this or that can be a millstone as well as a milestone, and jubilation turn to disgust and disgrace.
Remember the “first Catholic president”? American papists were ecstatic at the election of John F. Kennedy, but Camelot came apart, and rather quickly. The first Catholic president turned out to be a whore-mongering, double-dealing, feckless idiot, a Catholic in name only, and an everlasting embarrassment to members of the faith he professed.
I’ve overcome the disgrace by disavowing JFK. To my mind, Ronald Reagan was the first Catholic president, in practice if not in name. Black Americans may want to recalculate their pioneer, too, if Obama disappoints in like fashion.