Oh my. In the immortal words of Meg Ryan in one of my all-time favorite flicks: "I have no response to that."
Well, I do have one response (and maybe two). I'll be that New York Times professionals did not struggle with this issue during the George W. Bush era. Is this a flashback to the Bill Clinton years, or have we even jumped to a stage beyond that?
I am referring to this Domestic Disturbances piece by Judith Warner entitled, "Sometimes a President Is Just a President." Who can forget this lede?
The other night I dreamt of Barack Obama. He was taking a shower right when I needed to get into the bathroom to shave my legs, and then he was being yelled at by my husband, Max, for smoking in the house. ...
But here is the heart of the matter:
As we all know, in journalism, two anecdotes are just one short of a national trend. I figured that my friend and I couldn't possibly be the only ones dreaming, brooding or otherwise obsessing about the Obamas. Were other people, I wondered, being possessed by our new first family?
I launched an e-mail inquiry. And learned that they were. Often, in strikingly similar ways.
Many women -- not too surprisingly -- were dreaming about sex with the president. In these dreams, the women replaced Michelle with greater or lesser guilt or, in the case of a 62-year-old woman in North Florida, whose dream was reported to me by her daughter, found a fully above-board solution: "Michelle had divorced Barack because he had become 'too much of a star.' He then married my mother, who was oh so proud to be the first lady," the daughter wrote me.
There was some daydreaming too, much of it a collective fantasy about the still-hot Obama marriage.
There's more to the piece than that, but you get the idea. New York Times reporters and their friends are, of course, the rulers of an elite niche in the American cultural landscape. We are dealing with the dreams of very important people.
But you have to ask: Did Focus on the Family people have similar dreams about President George W. Bush? Did they feel the need to share them, if they did?
Would the press, at the level of the Times niche, feel differently about religious people having sweet dreams about a president than safely secular people having these kinds of vaguely mystical experiences?
I'm just joking about all of this. Sort of.