Monday, February 25, 2008

Barack Obama: A House Divided

Who’s Your Daddy?
© 2008 Leighann Lord

We’re all familiar with the Chinese proverb, "May you live in interesting times." Well, if you’re a voting age American it doesn’t get much more interesting than this: a senior citizen, a woman and a Black man. The melting pot is finally starting to simmer.

Politically, things are interesting in my house. I’m a registered Independent and my husband is a disgruntled Republican. On our second date we heatedly debated opposite sides of Megan's Law and the validity of the Hate Crimes Bill. He accused me of being a Democrat who couldn't commit; I called him a fascist neanderthal and we were married before the year was out.

You'd think the fur would be flying as the election draws near, but the conservative high jacking of the Republican party has left my husband a little more open minded than usual. I’m feeling a smidge less cynical; so basically that means we both like Barack Obama. I wasn't always a fan of Barack. At first he reminded me of one of those guys I dated who was a little too slick. Is he just trying to charm me or does he really believe what he’s saying? Is that better or worse?

But I have to admit he’s looking and sounding more presidential with every passing primary. Bring the troops home from Iraq? Universal healthcare by the end of his first term? Dude, you’re hired.

Not so fast. My Dad, the Clinton Democrat with a few more presidential campaigns under his belt than I, still has misgivings. "There’s something about him that just doesn’t feel right to me," he says. What’s not to like? He’s cute. He’s fine. His voice is sweeter than candy. And unlike Alan Keyes, this guy "really" makes sense. Don't player hate, Daddy.

Capitalism and The Patriot Act notwithstanding, this is a free country and we’re allowed to pick the candidates we want but true Americans aren’t really satisfied with live and let live. We aren’t truly happy until we’ve swayed our most bitter opponent to our way of thinking. And so this year my biggest political arguments aren’t with my husband, they’re with my Dad.

"He lacks experience," he says. I don't see that as a negative. Look where experience has gotten us so far. Maybe a little inexperience is what we need. And who really has the experience to be president of the United States? Ex-presidents. But you don't see Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, or George Bush, Sr. throwing their hats back into the ring. That should tell you something. How great could the job be if no one who's had it before ever wants to do it again?

That leaves the former royalty, prime ministers or deposed dictators of other countries. They have actual experience leading a nation. The problem is, most are dead except for Tony Blaire.

As I ponder living but currently unemployed royalty who might be interested in being leader of the free world, my husband suggested Queen Amidala of Naboo. Yes, "Star Wars." Clearly he’s being an inflammatory ass here out of habit (one of his most endearing qualities) but I couldn’t help but counter with Princess Leia. A queen already has a job, a princess is a vice-queen who might appreciate the promotion to President.

It’s a weak argument, I know. And to be honest, I’d really prefer someone from the "Star Trek" side of the sci-fi universe, but that leads to our relationship long dispute of Captain James T. Kirk versus Captain Jean Luc Picard. I don’t want to go there so close to the election, because if debate degenerates into debacle, I doubt I’ll be allowed to vote from jail even with an absentee ballot or a note from my Mom.

Not that I’m keeping score, but I think I’m winning. I’ve finally convinced my Dad to read Barack’s book, "The Audacity of Hope." Does this mean my Dad will jump on the Obama bandwagon? I don’t know; but so far we agree on one thing: Obama’s better than Bush. The latter isn’t saying much but America won’t be rebuilt in a day. Even if Obama is a too idealistic or lacks experience he won’t be doing the job by himself. No president does. I know Bush didn’t get the memo on this, but even if he had, he wouldn’t have read it.

America is the ultimate group project and the president commands with the help of his vice president, advisors, cabinet members, congress and various government agencies to carry out the will of the people. We need a leader who gets that this is a team effort. A leader who can help us play well together as citizens of one nation and one world. Can we do that with Barack Obama? Yes we can, Daddy.

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