Being a collection of doggerel, verse, stories, politics, historical essays, satire, poetry, jokes, pictures and whatever else I damn well please on a variety of interesting (or otherwise) subjects.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Let me tell you a story...

It was a summer evening over 4 years ago, July 27 2004, to be exact. I was watching the Democratic National Convention on television. Now, understand, I'm not really a Democrat or a member of any political party. I consider myself socially progressive and fiscally kind of conservative, at least in the sense that I think government should try to live within its means. When government does spend money, it ought to be on things to benefit people, not on ideological bags of magic beans and the citizenry ought to be willing to pay for things that benefit people. Old fashioned ideas, I guess.

I watch politics the way a lot of people watch football. I find the interplay of competing ideas fascinating. Even when it's reprehensible and mean spirited and petty, it's still interesting to me.

But I digress.

Anyway, I was watching the convention and the keynote speaker, this young black man running for a senate seat in Illinois, starts to speak. I had never heard of this guy before that night. I listened to him and watched him speak. He said:

"there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America."

I sat up a little straighter in my chair and payed closer attention. This guy really had something. That not-quite-definable quality that turns simple rhetoric into a magical tool that inspires and unites. He talked about hope:

"the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope -- Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!"

As he was talking, my wife had come in and sat down on the couch to watch with me, and when he finished speaking, she said, "Who's that guy?" I looked at her and said, "His name is Barack Obama, and you remember that name because he will someday be the first black President of the United States."

I say that, not to claim any marvelous prescience for myself. Perhaps many people thought the same thing that night. I certainly would not have predicted then that it could possibly happen only 4 years later.

So here we are in 2009 and Barack Obama will be sworn in in a few days. He's got a lot on his plate; much more than anyone would have expected at the beginning of his campaign. Like everyone else, I'm hopeful that he will be up to the challenges, and I'm optimistic. I think he is up for it and will probably be a good President. Maybe even a great one!

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