Wielding that analogy is Maureen Dowd, whose next line is "He may lapse back into his Camus coma at any moment."
That's her first (and only) mention of Camus in her column (which also has "Camus" in the title, "Camus Fired Up"). It's anyone's guess what Camus— presumably the existentialist Albert Camus — and comas have to do with entering lions' dens, except to say that the lion would have an easy time with a comatose intruder. (The lion's den in question is that Republican retreat Obama favored with this presence. )
I'm thinking Camus was dredged up for the sake of alliteration. (Dowd downfall?) First the coma, then the Camus. Note that Frank Rich's NYT column today is "The State of the Union Is Comatose." That coma is contagious.
Now, Albert Camus has appeared in Maureen Dowd's column before, but not because he was a synonym for existentialism/ennui/whatever that begins with the letter C. In "Camus Comes to Crawford," she wrote about Camus because George Bush was reading "The Stranger."
It takes a while to adjust to the idea of W., who has created chaos trying to impose moral order on the globe, perusing Camus, who wrote about the eternal frustration of moral order in human affairs. What does W., the archenemy of absurdity as a view of life, kindle to in C., the apostle of absurdity as a view of life? What can W., the born-again monogamist, spark to in C., the amorous atheist? In some ways, Mr. Bush is supremely not a Camus man. Camus hated the blindness caused by ideology, and Mr. Bush wallows in it. Camus celebrated lucidity while the president keeps seeing only what he wants to see.With that insight into what Camus means to Maureen, perhaps you are in a better position to delve into the significance of Camus to Obama's "coma." Perhaps not!
Back in 2006, Bush's reading of "The Stranger" inspired me to read it. My summary of the book:
An ordinary man receives the jolt: his mother has died. His response is ordinary but also extraordinary. He smokes, drinks coffee, and seeks new love, real sensation in his ordinary world. He seems numb and inexpressive, and he follows various characters who lead him into their more fully formed lives. Marie offers love and marriage. He follows without seeing the importance of it. Raymond draws him into jealousy and revenge, and he goes there too, and doesn't see a reason not to. Killing a man or not killing a man seem like equal chances on a coin flip, and, seeing life that way, he kills a man. On trial, his emptiness and his search for sensation, for some feeling of living, become the argument for the prosecution, the reason why he is guilty. Condemned, he thinks it through. He sees the significance of life, even a short life, even a hated life, and finally recognizes that he exists, which is enough, which is everything.If a President of the United States were anything like that.... we'd be up against the wall in the lion's den.