White House 2012 covers politics. We leave the coverage of pop stars to TMZ, Access Hollywood, and all the other star following media outlets that in many ways, seem to dominate our national culture. Although I am no stranger to music (my partner is a DJ), I usually stay away from jumping on the bandwagon to cover the events surrounding pop culture figures. I am often offended by how more people can recite the lyrics of Lady Gaga’s latest hit, than the words of our National Anthem. The result forces me to react by accentuating one far more than the other. So while I will focus on Lady Liberty, I ignore the likes of Lady Gaga.
But the passing of Whitney Houston struck even me.
I am of Whitney’s generation, and her voice became an iconic part of my generation. Her music entertained us and touched us and she was a true American success story. But as with all things, nothing is perfect and in the end, her struggle with addiction and drug abuse sullied an otherwise pristine image. It was a battle that will prevent her from being served up as a “perfect” role model, but it was also a side of Whitney that I can’t help but relate to our own nation’s situation.
Like Whitney, our nation is exceptional. In fact it is the exceptionalism of our nation that allowed Whitney to excel. Like Whitney our nation is strong and beautiful. But also like Whitney, we have our demons and in similiar fashion to Whitney, our greatness can not be taken for granted. We must understand that our greatness must be preserved and protected. We must avoid turning successes into excuses, and wealth into dangerous excesses. We can never take our greatness for granted and must choose our national path very carefully. We must realize that with our strengths come weaknesses that we must overcome. We all hoped that Whitney would have eventually overcome hers.
Whitney now leaves behind a legacy of musical greatness. Her recordings will always echo the wonder that was her but we will also be left wondering what could have been. Let us all hope that the same must never be wondered about our nation.
Exceptionalism is not something to be taken granted. It is something to be cherished. I just hope that enough Americans truly cherish our national exceptionalism and are willing to preserve it and I can’t help but wish that Whitney Houston cherished herself as much as many of us did.
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