Here's an excerpt from Ms. Dowd's obituary, published in today's Times:
"It's like he's got one of those Fly Terminator targeting systems in his eyes," marveled Jon Stewart.
Maybe the president who collected Spider-Man comics as a kid couldn’t resist the age-old face-off with a fly.
The moment had echoes of parables in which the ordinary one becomes the golden one.
In "The Karate Kid," a teenager whose father has died learns lessons about the body and spirit from his surrogate father and karate teacher, Mr. Miyagi. His lessons are about not going to the dark side, the importance of discipline, and catching flies. "Man who catch fly with chopstick," Mr. Miyagi says, "accomplish anything."
In the Grimms’ fairy tale, "The Brave Little Tailor," a tailor brandishing a rag kills seven flies swarming around his jam-smeared bread. The little man admires his own bravery so much — "For joy his heart wagged like a lamb's tail" — that he wants the whole world to know of it. So he stitches up a belt for himself embroidered with the legend "Seven at one blow!" and saunters out.
Protected by his legend, using brains rather than brawn, he dispatches two giants and captures a unicorn and a wild boar before winning a princess and living happily ever after as a king.
The president didn't order up a "One at one blow!" belt. You don't need such accessories in the era of YouTube viral videos. But he did admire his own ninja moves so much that he gave himself a shout-out: "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? I got the sucker." Then he solicited more snaps for what Harwood called his "'Make my day' moment" from his press secretary off camera: "Whaddya think, Gibbs?" After the interview was over, he continued his superfly moves by cleaning up the carcass with a napkin.
The moment may have resonated so much because some Americans fear that President Obama is too prone to negotiation, comity and splitting the difference, that he could have been tougher on avaricious banks and vicious Iranian dictators.
The "shocking murder in the White House," as Stephen Colbert dubbed it, was a small moment. "All they want is to be loved and to feed on our waste," Jeff "The Fly" Goldblum said in a dry defense of the exoskeletal creatures on the Colbert Report.
Mr. Goldblum's quip will serve equally a fitting eulogy for Ms. Dowd and her