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The East Village’s Missing Name

Four More Years?Susan Keyloun

What is it? The name that’s missing from the East Village?

Think. It’s a name you would expect to hear, but don’t. A name you would expect to encounter in cafes and bars, on street corners and buses, in parks and in shops, in the lobbies of movie theaters and the changing rooms of gyms, on subway platforms and in supermarket lines, and wherever else East Villagers congregate.

The name, still so visible on the Web and audible on TV and radio, has vanished from the neighborhood. Yet it is (surely) the most famous name in the world. It begins with an “o,” and it ends with an “a”: OBAMA! Once it was on everyone’s tongue. Now, it seems, tongues would rather utter any name but that one. The name has been replaced by silence, by the absence of a name. It is a void people no longer know what to do with except to circle around it cautiously while naming other names — Palin, Beck, Murdoch, Cantor, Tea Partiers — as if warding off an evil spell.

There are other people besides Obama you rarely hear discussed these days. For instance, Clinton, Geithner, Bernanke, Biden, Pelosi. The names of those who hold the highest offices in the land are spoken aloud almost as rarely as those of Party officials in a Communist dictatorship. It’s as if merely whispering their names were a crime. It isn’t, of course, but somehow it feels inappropriate.
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