Thursday, February 21, 2008

Michelle Obama

When I first wrote about Barack Obama, Liz thought my equivocating was funny: "Mom, why can't you just like him?"

I wasn't willing to spend much energy liking someone who would turn out to be a flash in the pan. Rmemeber the Dean Scream? It wasn't all that out of line to anyone who'd ever been rooting for the winning team at a hockey game, but by the time it was cut and pasted all over the TV, it took on a new sinister tone and signalled the end of the campaign.

The attack dogs are now circling Michelle Obama, pouncing on a speech in Wisconsin where she said "for the first time I am proud of my country," a seven word sentence fragment that is being repeated ten times an hour on Fox News and trotted out as proof that Mrs Obama is not patriotic.

Is the glass half empty or half full? Is patriotism a reflex or a judgement? Can someone who is highly critical of our nation's policies still shed a tear while singing the national anthem at the ball game? If someone did, would they be a patriot or a hypocrite?

Unlike eight years ago, we now have YouTube. I found and watched a couple seven word fragments of Michelle's Wisconsin speeches. The seven word fragments didn't tell me much. Then I found this longer speech, where she talks about a topic near and dear to me, public education.

But she's not talking about prospective policy, she's talking about political will:
We have to change. We have to have leadership that will inspire us to be different, to understand that we have a mutual obligation to one another in this society in order for it to work. It's not just words when you say we are one anothers' brotherss and sister's keepers. It begins and ends there. And if we're not ready to sacrfice and compromise for one another and understand that is the root of our challenge, then no policy on the face of this earth will matter.

I've been combing the websites of the three remaining candidates. Both Democrats have pages of pages of PDF files on policy positions, much of it remarkably similar. The difference is coming down to the difference between "I will..... " and "We can......" One is a promise and the other is a challenge.

And let's salute YouTube! Eight years ago, all we could see of Howard Dean was what the networks chose to show us. Now we can see any portion of any speech that anyone thought was important enough to post online. I set out looking for the worst of Michelle Obama and found the best endorsement of Barack that I've seen yet.

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