Friday, March 14, 2008

Don't Make Me Stop This Car!

When my kids were little and they would be in the car fighting with one another making it impossible to concentrate because the noise was so intrusive, I, like millions of other parents would threaten, “stop fighting or I’ll have to stop this car.” Over the last few days, when I listen to the news, all I want to do is yell the same thing. “Don’t make me stop this car!”

What are these Presidential candidates thinking? Don’t they get that everything they say now, will be repeated in the general election. Don’t they get that this is just, as my Alaskan friends have been known to say, “the tip of the iceberg”. If they think the attacks have been difficult to this point, they have no idea how savaged they are going to be by the Republicans. But for me, (and I like all of the talking heads and the bloggers do make it all about me), the most unattractive off-putting tactic is the whining. What ever would have possessed the Obama people to whine about Saturday Nite Live? “ Boo Hoo, they like Hillary better than me”. Well, who wouldn’t when that’s the approach you take to a good natured comedy sketch. Here’s some sage advice to my friends in Chicago. “Get over it!” The SNL people are going to do what they do, and as long as they spell your name correctly, kids will be attracted to the election—and isn’t that what we’re all about. Oh God, I hate political whining. It’s so unPresidential.

But back to me. On my way back to DC today, I sat with a 25 or so, year old guy who was on his phone for three out of the three and a half hours. Most of his conversation was with some friends who apparently were interested in what this guy did before and after a trip. The conversations went like this: “yeah, so last night I was making out with Tiffany. She was so hot for me it was hard to leave, but I had other things to do.” Then the next conversation was: “ Claudia was so hot for me that she said she wouldn’t take a shower until I got there so I could wash her back.” The next discourse was much more graphic and not quite so interesting. And I asked him to cease and desist. “Please,” I begged, “I’m an older woman and my heart can’t stand it.” I thought that would be more effective than, “If you don’t stop, I’m going to throw up on you.”

The technology today has made it such that conversations with/among strangers is inevitable. And some of those are about politics. (OK, I know it’s a leap from the last paragraph – aren’t you perceptive). So when this guy started to talk about the campaigns (again to a friend who might have had more than a third grade education) I was glued to my adjacent seat. First he talked about how great the Spitzer ‘bimbo’ looked. Her boobs were ‘mamazing’ (cute huh). Then his 2 minute attention span turned to Obama. “Yeah I thought I’d vote for the guy. But look at what his minister said. Maybe he is a Muslim plant.”

You may say, consider the source. But even very smart people are asking questions about how a guy like Obama – someone who wants to be the President , can be associated with anyone who uses the kind of divisive and racist, anti American rhetoric that this minister used and uses. While I am sure the explanation is not difficult—there has to be a public explanation. I mean. I get it. My Uncle Phil and I used to fight about Communism, the war in Viet Nam and the Chinese. He was a fighter pilot in WW2 and as a youth, he, like every Jew in NY, was a member of the Communist party. He was embarrassed about the association and he was angry about the war in Viet Nam. He was right about the Chinese but I was inflexible in my thinking and one day, in an angry confrontation, I said he was stupid. He was visibly shaken to the point of tears. He never finished the argument because he was so hurt by my characterization of his intellect. And I was so ashamed about what I had done that I left his house without goodbyes. Eventually, we made up. But it took a long time and many earnest talks in-between. I think this is how Obama must feel about his spiritual mentor. He loves the guy. He can’t turn him away emotionally, but he’s a different generation and he has to turn him away intellectually because it is a different place than it was in the 60’s.

I have been thinking about this all day because I didn’t see a way out for the candidate. But now I do. The good Senator from Illinois has to say, without any qualification or apologies that he loves this country. He chose, (as a young boy) to stay here when his mom left to go to Indonesia, and he loves it more than anyone can imagine. I believe this is the truth. I believe that there is no downside to loving the country you want to lead. I believe that while Republicans can find unimaginable ways to attack the Obama candidacy, they cannot possibly wage war on a candidate who says they love the United States and want it to be the best it can be. It’s not an enormous leap from what he’s been saying all along. This will work. Whining won’t. We’re just sayin...Iris

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