While I have written a volume on Sarah Palin, quite literally, I have not talked much about Barack Obama. As we approached November 4th, I was continuously on the edge of tears. With Obama's victory, I wept - along with all those folks who came to Chicago from Texas and Mississippi and Illinois, along with Jesse Jackson and Jon Stewart. It was not only a global moment, but one very personal to me.
I came of age as a young teenager in a disturbingly segregated Pittsburgh. My friends and I started a civil rights group, but there was not a single institution in town that would host our inter-racial meetings. No school, no church, no community center.
My parents allowed us to meet at our house until eventually the Unitarian Church opened its doors to us. Threatening midnight phone calls were just one price my parents paid, but in those days Jews were widely committed in very concrete ways to the civil rights movement, coming as it did right after the profound lesson in racism called World War II.
Watching Obama's impressive, competent, steady, unruffled campaign unfold has been breathtaking. Matt Frei on BBC America put it this way: "Obama has managed to look like a cool designated driver of a country in peril." His unflappable temperament and his inexhaustible energy have been almost uncanny. As someone who has made a career out of flapping and ruffling, I know that Obama kicks butt.
There is so much about this that is right and right on. The world is super relieved. People of color are heartened. Progressive activists have hope for the first time in a long time. Democratic politicians have themselves been tarted up in his reflected success. His vision is so strategic that one is a tiny bit less afraid of the grossly crappy economic and political state of the world.
But let us not forget that Barack Obama is more than a stirring, welcome historic figure. He's also a moderate politician with views - and not all of them are fabuloso. For example, he does not support gay marriage. It would have been easy to take that stand, but he didn't do it. He supported the bailout, which is proving to be increasingly corrupt and, just as lefties predicted, just another means of stealing from the people to give to the bastards that took us all down in the first place. He opposed the war on Iraq, but Obama talks like a war-monger when it comes to Afghanistan - the country that historically eats empires that think they have the right to trespass. His position on Israel and Palestine is utterly problematic and one-sided. Some accuse him of sucking up to the American Jewish community, and he seems unaware that many Jews here and in Israel oppose the occupation of Palestine. Many worry that he is accepting at face value the advice he gets from Dennis Ross, a leftover and discredited advisor from Clinton and Bush administrations that failed to achieve peace, or even humanitarian relief in the territories.
You got to feel for anyone going into a new high-profile job with such a mess to clean up. But then, you've got to wonder about the person who so badly wants that job. But that's another topic. If we have to have a president and it can't be Nelson Mandela or Emma Goldman, then let's definitely have Barack Obama.
I've collected many inspired music clips that I haven't included in my blogs. This wonderful one is from manze dayila, a Haitian New Yorker who adores Obama.