Friday, August 29, 2008

Passport's cover

I've been waiting all week to write this.  It started Monday with a lump in my throat, a few tears, and a great love story and a slow car ride home from a hospital with a new baby and a determination to be a dad because he'd never known his own.  It built Tuesday, though I was slightly blinded by an orange pantsuit (and I actually love the color orange!), with some well-chosen words of support, some other words of what I might go so far as to call chiding, "Were you in this for me?"  After weeks--no, months--of speculation about whether she'd be gracious and rise to the challenge, she did, to ensure that what she's worked so hard for will not be lost, to ensure her own future as well. And Wednesday I was reminded of the brilliant mind of our former president.  Seriously.  He can give a speech.  Well, they all can, can't they?  And then Joe took the stage, Joe, with his straight-shooting salt-of-the-earth tragic past and unWashington-life.  Let me just say, those four people, Michelle, Hillary, Bill and Joe set and excellent table, getting ready for the big party that was last night. (Not to mention Al Gore last night, who I think might have gotten some voice lessons some time since he won he Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize.  He delivers a whole lot less woodenly than he used to!)

I've been watching political conventions a long time.  The first one I remember was 1964 when I was 7 years old.  We lived in Michigan in those days, and I remember when Barry Goldwater got the Republican nomination.  Wierd that I remember such a thing, huh?  I was kind of a presidential nerd.  I had all the presidents memorized by the next year when we moved to Washington State, and knew many of the people they ran against.  Don't ask me why.  I just liked them.  It's not really that I'm a political junkie, Beve would tell you, it's just the party of presidential politics, and the hoopla of the conventions.  Even now, in this techno age, they still do the roll call essentially the same way they've done it my whole life.  So when those states passed, Illinois, New Mexico and Hillary Clinton walked down onto the floor to take the mike and move to nominate Barack Obama by acclamation, I loved that pagentry.  I don't care what your politics are, it's great show.  A losing candidate--particularly in such a closely fought race--hasn't done that in my memory.  Shoot, when Teddy Kennedy lost to Jimmy Carter in 1980, he was barely civil (and talk about upsetting a dynasty!).

Of course, I care.  And I have to admit--no, I'm glad to admit!--that this is the first election in my voting life, that the choice set before me is one I care deeply about.  Four years ago at the Democratic convention, I sat by myself and listened a man with a funny name give the keynote address and as he spoke, I began to get chills.  I'd heard Bill Clinton wax on when he gave his keynote address the convention before he ran and wondered if he was the future (though he spoke far too long, something like an hour!).  But this man.  I'd never heard anyone like him.  J came home from work right after he finished that night and I said, "I think I just listened to our next president." J remembers how 'infatuated' I was with him.

And last night when he spoke again, I again got chills.  There was substance last night. I don't agree with every one of his positions, of course.  Shoot, I don't even agree with all of my own husband's.  However, I agree with the way Barack Obama intends to govern, with his plans to reach across party lines, his goals of diplomacy first and force as a last resort. I'm tired of this war, it hurts my heart to think of all those soldiers fighting for who knows what.  I don't know what. Seriously.  And then they come home and seem to be perishing in a different way...

It's painful to think of what has happened to our country. I can't bear it.  I don't think of myself as wrapped in the red, white and blue--I like the colors of heaven, personally.  But when I present my passport places, it does say United States of America on it.  I can't get away from that.  And there's a responsibility attached to that passport.  To live up to the seal on the cover.  And we just haven't been doing our job, at home and around the world.

So I sit rapt in front of my TV, listening to Barack Obama speak, hoping he says enough.  Hoping more than just those 85,000 who love him hear.  Hoping the world listens.  Hoping the country says, enough is enough.
One of the biggest criticisms of Obama throughout this campaign has been whether he's 'ready' to be president.  But I have to say, I doubt anyone is ever 'ready' for that job.  It's an enormous job with too much weight to it.  How could a person be prepared?  Perhaps the only person actually ready to do it is a person who has already done it, a man who is beginning his second term, for example.  And just think of how well that's turned out lately.  No, it's the ability to learn quickly, surround oneself with wise counselors, to listen and evaluate from a myriad of viewpoints.  Not to mention have integrity, strength of character and diplomacy (not that I think our presidents have necessarily had these...!).  I just don't think all of our last president's experience has been very helpful.  And I have to admit, eight years ago that troubled me.  When Clinton was president, I was appalled by his sexual predilictions; however, I thought he was a good president. He did his job well.  People often do their jobs well even when they fail in their lives.  And so he did. Then along came this man who had had a religious conversion and wasn't afraid to talk about it.  I recognize that the Bushes are people of deep faith.  I value that in them.  But his faith alone does not qualify a person to be president. It's how he has done his job, how he doesn't listen to people, and his policies that I have a problem with.  All of it.  Barack Obama is also a person of deep faith.  He's also a person who claims Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  He claims Him boldly--often.  I love that.  But that alone doesn't qualify him.  It's other things about him that give me hope.  It's things about us together that give me hope.

But, to be fair, I'll listen next week to John McCain and his new running mate, Sarah Palin (Alaska's-barely-wet-behind-the-ears-and-he-calls-Obama-inexperienced?-governor), in Minneapolis.  Just one question, do you think it's an obvious ploy to get women voters or what?

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