I've been itching to write about this political season, but in what context could it be seen that would make any sense at all? I watched both conventions. I saw who captured the imagination of the audience and who did not. I saw what translated on screen as the team that maybe is most like me.
I may as well admit here and now, that I am one of the Hillary women.
I had high hopes for her Presidency. I saw her flaws and yet I believed she could have led this country into a future I could have swallowed.
I don't really have the same feeling about Obama even now. But, now that you know that, I want to take the conversation someplace else.
I watched the 1972 Watergate hearings with my grandparents. I remember sitting in their tenth floor apartment appreciating the air conditioning, doodling on paper, and watching them watch John Dean and Spiro Agnew and the whole cadre of governmental criminals paraded daily on their big color television. I don't know why I spent so many days there. Probably my parents were working. There was no question, though, that we were going to focus on entertaining me. We were watching Watergate, and slip in some Olympics and some tennis matches along the way. So, it was Olga Korbet and Nixon in the summer of 1972.
While I dreamt of the perfect back-walkover, the grown-ups droned on and on about the dreams of a nation to resolve conflict through intelligent dialogue, instead of criminal acts, cheating and lying.
What I remember more than the specifics is my grandparents' attitude of shock and horror that the leaders of our country were cheats and no better than robbers. It seemed to shake their very foundational beliefs about what our government was all about. We went, in that summer, from being the good guys to being the bad guys by virtue of our poor leadership.
My grandmother cried about it. She cried. She apologized to me that the country was such a disappointment and shook her head, and finally she shrugged. Then she sent me down to the basement pool room to get a cream soda from the vending machine. By the time I got back, having walked down and up ten flights of stairs to get some of my energy taken care of, she had collected herself and was giggling like a girl again. Thank goodness for Doonsberry.
She would have been 100 in 2009. What would she have said about the next President and Vice President, I wonder?
It is my belief that this political season is the legacy of that fateful summer in more ways than one. This is the sad thing: I don't believe in either one of the political tickets being able to resurrect this country to its foundation from the halls of Washington, D.C.. We are so far off the foundation that I sometimes think the country must be a tear down. I find it ironic that Obama has chosen the theme song of Bob the Builder, "Yes, we can!" when he has become increasingly canned and cynical in the way he talks to average Americans. I feel like he speaks to us as if we were toddlers watching a TV show beyond our cad. There is something different in his spirit when he talks since he became the anointed one. I don't believe he really wants it anymore.
I liked Tina Fey, ur, I mean Sarah Palin, in her first speech to the country. I felt her love of this country and just knew exactly who she was in that moment. She's my age. She went to high school when I was in high school (as did Obama). Her conservativism is ignorant and folksy and harkens to complete amnesia of the summer of 1972. I doubt very much she watched the Watergate hearings with her parents. She was probably out hunting her first moose. Still her ignorance of that fall from grace gives her the ability to sell the story she sells. My grandmother might have said something like this about Sarah Palin, "Well, pretty is as pretty does..." Somehow it goes with Palin's favorite joke about being a pit bull.
Obama would have been the boy I had a crush on, two years ahead, and unattainable not only because of his age, but because of the color of his skin. I would have flirted mercilessly with him, and I would have believed that that's all it was because he's black and he's a snoot.
Are we just flirting with the future?
My grandmother might have said something more complex, backwards hopeful about Obama. She was present when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the Montview Presbyterian Church across the street from the Library, and was very proud of it, but there was no doubt that the potential of "colored" people was a question mark for her. To her experience, the colored people she actually interacted with were her mother's seamstress, the man who sold fruit out of a cart in the alleys of her childhood who had met Abraham Lincoln himself, or the nursing home attendant who wiped her butt late in life. I think she would have had the same kind of blank feeling about Obama that she had about Jesus Christ. A lot of people believe in Jesus Christ as a savior, but to her he was always a "Nice man who got into a mess."
Perhaps it is just what I believe. I think Obama and Palin are both in over their heads. I see the coming war in the Balkans, the economic fall out of the Fanny and Freddie debacle, and the everlasting Middle East problem, and cannot see either of these peers of mine having any real influence at all over the unraveling world. I don't believe the political process is honest because then those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling would have mattered for more than a great speech at the convention. I believe that I have to seek clarity out of what they can have influence over in reality.
That's why I'm voting for Obama-Biden. It's really the Supreme Court. That's what it comes down to for me. There are three potential seats opening up, and I want the Obama-Biden ticket in charge of selecting the next judges. I want to prevent court legislation from the Right (though they deny putting governmental hands on women's bodies is legislation...har). I want a ticket in the White House that isn't appealing to our lowest nature of "No one helped me out, so why should I reach out and help anyone else?" but instead is at least saying, "Yes, we can!"
Biden has sponsored some of the most important legislation of our time for women's lives. He oversees the committee that determines who will be on the Federal and Supreme Courts of this land, and so he knows something about that and international policy. He's not afraid to get in the face of a criminal leader like Milosevic, and tell him he's a murderer. In the past two presidencies the vice president has been more and more important to the point where a vice president can shoot someone and they will apologize for getting in the way of the bullet. Biden is not that man. He is not wealthy though he's been in a position of power for thirty years. He's the one I can get behind.
What scares me is that Palin is the person that my conservative counterparts can get behind. Are there more of them or more of me?
It only matters to the character of this country. Yes, I like Palin's "can do" attitude, but what she can do and what Obama-Biden can do are very, very different outcomes in our nation's potential personality. Will either ticket do very different things around energy policies? I don't really have that impression. Will they do very different things around the Middle East? Really? I don't think so. Will they do very different things around the Balkans? Nope. So, go to what is going to be different and make a decision.
I'm voting for the ticket who I believe watched the Watergate hearings some.