Thursday, January 31, 2008

Give Up?--Never!

Of course, I was joking about that "giving up" the blog comment. How could I?--the pay's too good.

Anyway, one other note, for those of you who haven't stumbled on George Packer's nice piece (mainly) on Hillary in last week's New Yorker (I'm still trying to catch up after the Hawaii backlog). It's a strangely compelling portrait of her that persuades me to think even less of her as a candidate while simultaneously causing me to wish a little more that she'd win. For example:
During the debate in Las Vegas, she tried to explain her commitment to social change by talking about herself, not about the people she wants to help: “It is really my life’s work. It is something that comes out of my own experience, both in my family and in my church—that, you know, I’ve been blessed.” Her response displayed the awkwardness that comes from a lifelong habit of self-concealment in the face of exposure, and toughness in the face of hurt. It’s a little sad and painful that this enormously accomplished and capable woman, in her sixty-first year, had to bring her mother and daughter on a “likability tour” in the days before the Iowa caucus, and found her voice—as she put it—only on the night of her upset win in New Hampshire.
It's a portrait that also characterizes her opponent as an almost transcendentally cool figure--like she's running against a combo John Lennon and JFK:

The next morning, Obama was scheduled to appear before an overflow crowd at the opera house in Lebanon. When he walked onto the stage, which was framed by giant vertical banners proclaiming “HOPE,” his liquid stride and handshake-hugs suggested a man completely at ease.

“I decided to run because of you,” he told the crowd. “I’m betting on you. I think the American people are honest and generous and less divided than our politics suggests.” He mocked the response to his campaign from “Washington,” which everyone in the room understood to be Clinton, who had warned in the debate two nights before against “false hopes”: “No, no, no! You can’t do that, you’re not allowed. Obama may be inspiring to you, but here’s the problem—Obama has not been in Washington enough. He needs to be stewed and seasoned a little more, we need to boil the hope out of him until he sounds like us—then he will be ready.”

The opera house exploded in laughter. “We love you,” a woman shouted.

“I love you back,” he said, feeding off the adoration that he had summoned without breaking a sweat. “This change thing is catching on, because everybody’s talking about change. ‘I’m for change.’ ‘Put me down for change.’ ‘I’m a change person, too.’ ”

From time to time, I stop to think what an important moment this is in American history. There have been moments like it before--1932, 1941, 1968--and I've wondered, "did people realize what a big deal it was at the time?" It's an article that can make you stop and think and appreciate the enormity of this moment in American politics. No matter what happens, remember these days--we'll be talking about them for the rest of our lives.

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