The Emperor’s Old Clothes: A Quick Thought About Obama on his Birthday

Jude Jones
2 min readAug 4, 2020

The role of an emperor is to maintain an empire. Thus if you seek to rule an empire, then you seek to be an emperor


You *are* the empire. You benefit from its ill-begotten riches every time you put on cheap clothes or discard half eaten food or use your precious-metal laden phone.


The revolutionary rarely runs for office. The process of appeasement and compromise is antithetical to the singleminded focus one needs to stay true to the cause.


He was never going to lead the revolution; his aspirations, by definition, were anti-revolutionary. He was not a savior. He did not “betray” us. He was no more a saint nor a sinner than we, for we are all complicit in the sins of imperialism and capitalism.

Yet we see the traits we took for granted — intelligence, articulation, empathy (even if it’s performative), style — were not simply a given for the position; they were gifts. Gifts that at best defied and at the least blunted the inherent cruelty his position requires.

So while yes, we need not beatify him, we also need not berate him. We should appreciate him for who he was, and be inspired to be more.

So to the imperfect inspiration, happy birthday. May your legacy inspire millions to step up where you, for whatever reason, did not step at all.

(Also, that jacket is still fire as fuck)

Jude Jones

Go ask my pre-school, even talk to my old principal / He’d tell you how you I used to pack a number two pencil