"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


what i really want

So, you might not know it from reading my blog, but I am still very much undecided about the presidential race, especially when it comes to the general election. Obama fascinates me, but I'm not convinced that he has the national security experience to be president (and goodness knows we need someone who knows what he or she is doing this time around). I don't trust Hillary, and I'm a little afraid of McCain. (I'm also - genuinely - afraid of McCain's age issue. The presidency ages people at an alarming rate, and I'm not sure he can handle 4 years. He already looks so tired from the campaign.) So here I find myself, in the middle, trying to make a decision about for whom to vote and whether to do the primary thing or not. (To be clear: I think I will vote in the Democratic primary in Austin, because that's the election for a lot of local races, including District Attorney and several judges. I'm just not 100% sure about the presidential primaries.)

Anyway, I'm trying to be open-minded and give everyone a chance, and also to see as many of the candidates as possible. But I have to say: the Obama messianic stuff creeps me out a little. The other day I linked to a quip Melissa Rogers found that was to the effect that, "This is a race between a New York Senator who was born in Illinois and an Illinois Senator who was apparently born in a manger."

Exactly. I'm all for enthusiasm about the democratic process, but this is getting a little out of hand. Poster setups like the one above creep me out a little. A and I walked to lunch on the Drag today and were acosted by supporters of both HRC and Obama. The Obama kids are everywhere, trying to drum up attendance at tonight's rally. And if you say, "no, thank-you," when they try to hand you a flier, you get a lecture about this primary making a real difference for the first time in twenty or thirty years.

I get it, kids, I get it. You're excited about your candidate. Good for you. But for goodness sakes'. Tonight should be interesting for those of us who aren't yet committed to a candidate. I wonder if we'll get witnessed to?


Blogger euphrony said...

Be sure to tell me if anyone gets healed at the rally.

BTW, I agree about McCain's age. My parents are exactly his age, and I see what's going on in their calm lives. This, I think, will prove a major under-the-table issue (too rude to address it directly, but the DNC will make sure it is on everyone's mind). McCain will have to pick a running mate that people see as almost equally qualified to step in as president at any time. And considering how the Republican field has run this year, that's not a long list for Veep.

Friday, February 22, 2008 3:17:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am surprised to hear you are not yet a card carrying member of the Obama cult!

National security experience? Is this really the main reason you have for being cautious about Obama? Do you really think Hillary is the answer here? McCain? Do you not trust the group of advisers Obama has collected on this issue?

Aren't these advisers offering much fresher and more promising thinking on national security and foreign policy issues than the old group of advisers that surround Clinton and McCain?

I am also surprised that you are creeped out by all the youthful enthusiasm and their creative efforts. As a teacher of government, aren't you excited that politics is cool again for the young? Sure, some can get fanatic, but what I am seeing is something very special and unique.

Would not this excitement trump whatever excess there is?

I'm curious to see how Austin receives Obama tonight, and thanks for the reports you are sending!

Confirmed Obama cultist and founder of the "Obamianity" blog

Friday, February 22, 2008 5:48:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Friday, February 22, 2008 6:18:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That poster setup is very reminiscent of Latin America to me, particularly countries like Cuba with the Che Guevera posters and art.

Full disclosure - I voted Obama. It was as much a vote against HC, who I don't trust, as for Obama.

I think there's people that go overboard in all camps, but I've seen in most with Obama and Ron Paul. I think a lot of people are just really ready for a change after the Bush administration ends.

I gotta say though, it's inspiring to me to see that many people excited and involved in the political process.

I agree with you about McCain's age - and my parents have said the same thing. Plus I kinda fear McCain too - that "100 years in Iraq" thing he said in the California debate kinda did it for me...

Saturday, February 23, 2008 12:14:00 AM

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

I have never thought of Obama in messianic terms--and I don't think he does, either. But I think he has enough foreign policy experience: At Columbia U., where he majored in poli-sci, he took a concentration on international relations. He has lived for 4 years in Indonesia. He serves on the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and has gone on official visits to Russia, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Kenya, etc.

In the Senate, he sponsored the new law getting aid and stopping U.S. neglect of the DRC--even though he hasn't talked about that on the stump. He worked to stop loose WMD from the former Soviet Union.

His judgment on Kosovo/a has proven more balanced than Hillary's--whose rosy view was undermined the same day she gave it.

I have heard him speak on Central America (which area of the world I know VERY well and which no other candidate has even mentioned) very knowledgeably and his answer on Cuba showed both judgment and a certain amount of political courage--since the GOP will slice him on this during the Gen. Election.

Of course, I would feel better about Obama's foreign policy if I knew that Bill Richardson or Chris Dodd was going to be his Sec. of State, but I am encouraged by who his foreign policy advisors are.

Saturday, February 23, 2008 5:42:00 AM

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

BTW, TiA, although you are nervous about Obama, I hope you are now thoroughly committed to helping State Sen. Rick Noriega in his quest to oust John Cornyn from the U.S. Senate! (Alas, here in KY, our best shot at getting rid of Mitch McConnell, Andrew Horne, was pressured by the KY Dem. Party and Chuck Schumer of the DSCC to get out so they could let millionaire DINO Bruce Lunsford take a shot--even though he lost 2 shots at governor!)

Saturday, February 23, 2008 5:51:00 AM

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Oh, and remember, Jimmy Carter had zero foreign policy experience and is the most loved former president around the world. He made mistakes (e.g., supporting the Shah when he should have been pushing for a transition to Iranian democracy), but he also secured the Egypt-Israeli Peace Treaty--not one line of which has ever been violated.

Most of our presidents have been former governors--who, unless, like Bill Richardson, they had previous careers as UN Ambassador, have had relatively little foreign policy experience. In the first 2 years of the Clinton presidency, I thought his entire foreign policy consisted of "send Jimmy Carter."

Although Dubya still can't find anyplace on the map we haven't invaded, he came to the Oval Office with a team of tested foreign policy wonks--who got EVERYTHING wrong. Experience isn't everything. Let's give judgment a shot.

Saturday, February 23, 2008 5:59:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I have to chime in (pile on?) here. While I see your point to a degree about the Obamamania, I never thought too much enthusiasm or participation by young folks would be a problem in my lifetime. On some level his speeches do seem akin to the kid running for student council president promising free cokes in the coke maching. He is not and will not be the "savior" of our country but maybe he can be a big step towards healing. He's still a politician and at some point will surely disappoint us all. The number one worst reason not to support a candidate must be that he/she inspires people too much and causes too much participation. How long have we been asking young people to care and get involved and telling them that they can make a difference, and now it's too much? It's not like he's a song on the radio that they've played to death or a tv show that has jumped the shark, it is still an election. I mean come on, who else are you really gonna support? I think he has enough sense to put good foreign policy people around him, starting with V.P. Gen. Clark.
-The D.A.

Saturday, February 23, 2008 1:03:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The D. A., I agree and Michael, thanks for making a persuasive case for Obama.

Ok, Texas in Africa, we are waiting on your thoughts and re-considerations!


Saturday, February 23, 2008 1:15:00 PM

Blogger Roger said...

MW-W has spoken very tangibly of reasons to give Senator Obama serious consideration. I'm fascinated by him like so many. I am deeply encouraged by these "kids" about whom you were almost dismissive finding in him a profound reason to move beyond cynicism and detachment to commitment. But would he be better than Senator Clinton? I don't know. But she would surely bring many strong qualities to the office. Would there be moments when Senator McCain would bring strength to the office in a way that neither of the two Democrats could? I would say yes. It's a great day when we have three candidates who would each bring strong leadership to this impossible task. It's been a very, very long time since we have had such good options.

For myself, I draw on the distinction made long ago by William Sloane Coffin between optimism and hope. "Hope is born" he loved to say, "when optimism has died." Obama is certainly bringing optimism alive in people. But a few stumbles in office, a clear picture of his humanity, and the optimism may fade. However, the picture on the front page of the Austin paper this morning was one of hope, not just optimism.

The picture was taken from behind Obama who is seemingly crushed by a wonderfully diverse crowd. Not an unexpected picture. A picture of energy and optimism. On further inspection, however, one can see a young black girl, perhaps a child, perhaps a young adult, its hard to tell. What is clear however, is her left hand, darker than Obama's skin, touching his cheek, and her eyes, riveted on his face. It is a touch of such tenderness and wonderment that it took my breath away. In those eyes and that touch the message seems to be,"This is beyond anything I could ever possibly imagine. This really is happening." Surely optimism for African-Americans has bloomed and died a million times....but amazingly, hope remains it seems. And in this moment in history, captured in that picture, hope is real.

I have to go with it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008 11:49:00 PM


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