Mixed Reviews: What’s Your View?

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Hi Nathasha,

I want to respond to, or at least riff off, your commentary on Obama. You brought up some salient points, I think, and I’d like to write about a couple of them.

You’re right, obviously Obama can’t walk on water! (you know, though, I did see some kids sliding around on the reflecting pool during the inauguration….I’m not sure what the symbolism is of that, if any…). I’m not a staunch Democrat: I’m a staunch left-winger, which often puts me in conflict with the centrist Dems, but I’m also aware politics is compromise.

My heart was closest to Kucinich, but he didn’t have a chance. I supported Edwards because I believed he had the most compassionate domestic agenda. Of course I would have supported Clinton, if she’d won the nomination. After all, she was the first loud clear voice in years calling for universal health care. Obama…well, he’s Mr Charisma. At the Democratic convention in 2004 it was obvious he was a comer. I worried because he comes out of one of the most truly corrupt state political machines in the country, and I wondered if he was a political adventurer rather than a serious and responsible contender for the presidency. I’m still concerned about the latter: you know the old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.” Time will tell. I think we’re off to a good start, however. Closing Guantanamo and evacuating Iraq are good opening moves. So is saying no to torture.

“Guardedly optimistic,” that’s me.

I’m really not sure about the costs of the inauguration; I have a hunch the inaugural expenses may be as mythical as the $73 per hour supposedly made by auto-makers. I know that the formal costs of the 2005 Bush inaugurals didn’t include security costs and that the “estimates” of Obama’s inauguration come from….where? The networks. But nobody knows where the networks got their figures.

Accessibility at the inauguration? Well, I don’t know. If I’d seriously thought about going, I would have been concerned—But, I’d have concerned myself more about the crowds and the cold, neither of which I’m particularly fond of.

I think Obama’s skin color is a plus, but not the whole show. I honestly don’t think he was chosen because of his skin color; it didn’t work for Alan Keyes or Jesse Jackson and I don’t think we’re so easily manipulated. “Identity politics” is an awkward topic; for me, it involves considerations about race, of course, since I’m mixed race myself; about his speaking of us disabled folks: I hope he’ll try to make sure the ADA is applied on a national level? What will happen with transportation and housing and the big one, universal health care?

The Democrats, traditionally, have been more concerned with health care and social justice than the Republicans, since the days of Franklin Roosevelt through Kennedy and Johnson and Carter (no, not so much Clinton!); I’m hopeful this will carry on in actual policy.

I don’t like Obama being called the first African-American president; he’s the first mixed-race, biracial president. That’s a more honest description. I think it’s hopeful. There are more and more mixed-race Americans. We’re a multi-racial country in a multi-racial world. I like our leadership representing that. Almost every previous president has been a descendent of north-western European ancestry. If I was African-American, of course I would have voted for him. The obvious joy of our Black sisters and brothers is completely understandable to me, especially considering the track record of the other party when it comes to race.

Things have looked bleak, for a long time. You remember the song by the Who “We won’t get fooled again!”? (You know I have a black belt in cynicism.) I was ready to give up. I figured if the Republicans won this election we were done for. I was going down to city hall and burn my voter’s registration card. Another eight years of debacles like the fraudulently hyped war against Iraq and subsequent occupation, ricocheting energy costs, Afghanistan’s opium flood, the erosion of health care for people here at home, declining life-expectancy tables, climbing economic misery, rotting highways and falling bridges and crumbling levees…that would be it.

Hope was what Obama’s campaign was dangling in front of us all. Like bait to hungry fish. Of course I rose to it, like a fish to a fly. I had to take the chance of being fooled again, of it being the same old bait-and-switch we’ve all seen for so many years. It’s like love. Without the chance of rejection and hurt, we wither and die; love is about risk. Life is about risk. Hope is about risk.

So, for what it’s worth—that’s where I’m at. Thanks for the opportunity to organize some of my thoughts.

Keep the faith.

Peter Webster