Monday, January 19, 2009
I've been reading the scores of online reports about what's going on in Washington D.C. right now, and even all the way over here in my little Danish fishing town, the excitement is inescapable. It's bubbling under my skin. Wow, what an era! I'm still choked up by the fact that Obama gave a speech yesterday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, with the steady stone eyes of Honest Abe himself staring down on the 44th president. Obama will move into the White House shortly with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters. Michelle's great-great grandfather was a slave in South Carolina, and the White House and the Capitol Building were built in part by slaves. Anyone who is even a little bit knowledgeable of the United States' dreadful slavery story has got to feel the enormity of these circumstances. But it's not all about the slavery connection -- Obama is simply the best person for the job right now. The coming year or so will certainly suck, likely getting worse before it gets better, but I believe he can do it, and he will do it. He's not a magician, but the optimism and hope that Americans feel right now is infectious, unusual and real.
Not everyone seems to feel this way. I know someone, someone I like very much, who told her young children that Obama is "a very bad man." She supported McCain and especially wanted to see a woman (Palin) in the White House, and so maybe she muttered this as sour grapes right after the election. I've been thinking about this story frequently over the past several weeks. I'm trying to understand what it is about Obama that could make someone feel that he's a bad man. He's got it all going on -- unbeatably smart, witty, relaxed, real, compassionate, empathetic, committed, direct, extremely ethical, and he always speaks in complete sentences. I understand that to some people the fact that he's not white is deeply unsettling, but I don't think that's the case about this person who told her children that he's a very bad man. Is it because he's going to ask the wealthy to share their wealth a little bit more? I'm extremely embarrassed by the greed that's growing and getting fatter on all levels of American society these days, but I don't think this is what it's about either.
The fact, not just my opinion, is that Obama is a very GOOD man. He has sought and is now taking this job -- and what a horrible job it's got to be -- for the right reasons, and it breaks my heart to think of kids seeing him and feeling fear. I hope that by the time they're in school and learning for themselves, they'll see the bigger picture of what he's signed on to do, and the very good results from his labors.