I was not, initially, a fan of Barack Obama. I mean don’t get me wrong, I was glad he was my senator, but in the early stages of the primary my choice was Dennis Kucinich. Yeah, I know, but hear me out. As you may have noticed if you’ve read this blog before, I lean pretty far left. Of the politicians whose names regularly appear when the presidential campaign season heats up, Kucinich was the one who leaned furthest in my direction. Did I ever think he had a real chance of winning the nomination, let alone the general election? Not really. He’s just too spazzy to take seriously, even if he does have a smokin’ hot British wife. (Seriously, how did he pull that off?)
From Obama’s appearance at the 2004 Democratic National Convention I knew the guy could give a speech. It was easy to see the excitement growing around him, especially here in Chicago where he is considered a favorite son. When the talk about him running for president really got going I thought he would make a great candidate someday, but not just yet. There were others in line who, considering the clusterfuck that is the Bush legacy, simply could not lose. My one fear was that Hillary might get the nomination, not because she’d be a bad president (she’d be a great one), but because the Clintons are so hated by the Right that her nomination might inspire the Republicans to new lows to keep her out of the White House. As for Obama, brilliant orator that he was, he was just too middle-of-the-road for me. I wasn’t feeling it.
It had been my intention to vote for Kucinich in the Illinois primary, but for the second time in as many presidential primaries my candidate dropped out of the race before I got the chance. Again, I knew he wouldn’t win, but I felt it was my duty to vote for the candidate I felt best represented my views.
It got down to Obama and Clinton, and things got interesting. I was pretty sure I would go with Obama, but what clinched it was his speech on race that he gave last March. As Jon Stewart remarked that day on The Daily Show, “a prominent politician spoke to Americans about race as though they were adults.” I knew then, like so many had figured out before me, that something was happening here that had not been seen in my lifetime.
I watched his speech last night on MSNBC, and for the first time in my life I felt like I was a part of something historic. I was watching something my grandkids will ask me about. I saw, for the first time, a real statesman — the kind you only knew about from history books. Men like Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton. Men like Lincoln. Men like Roosevelt and Kennedy. Men who changed the world with the force of their words.
It is trite now to point out that this election is a turning point, but what else can you call it? If all goes well then years from now we will look back and see the time before, and the time after, and we will marvel at how close we came to disaster, and far we’ve gotten from it since.
But right now, these few weeks between the nominations and the election, is a strange sort of twilight. We all feel it. November cannot get here soon enough.
John McCain has chosen Alaska governor and “hockey mom” Sarah Palin as his VP candidate in a misguided and rather offensive effort to steal away a few Clinton PUMAs while simultaneously shoring up his cred with the religious right. This is fantastic: All this talk about the Democrats selecting their first African-American presidential candidate being historic, while the NY Times calls the first female Republican candidate for the vice presidency a “novelty.” Is that sexist? Or more proof of the press’ “liberal slant”? Who cares? It’s hilarious. She’s anti-abortion, anti-polar bear, and under investigation for abusing her power as governor. Way to pick ’em, John!