Wednesday, May 22, 2024 -
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The Obamas, minus the discounts

Go ahead, take all the discounts. Grant, for the sake of argument, that it was exploitive of Michelle Obama to trot out her two children on stage during her dramatic  opening night speech at the DNC in Denver. Speaking of drama, grant, for the sake of argument, that some hyperbole slipped into her “story” and into her recitation of her husband’s “story.” Grant also, for the sake of argument, that two high powered graduates of an Ivy League college hardly represent the average, working class American citizen,

their humble beginnings notwithstanding. Go ahead, take all the discounts, whether they are true or not. What are you left with? An incredibly, immeasurably improved version over America’s last Democratic first “family,” the Clintons. As Sen. Joe Lieberman put it poignantly at the time — one couldn’t allow one’s children to view the leader of that family on television. In 2008, however, you are left with family that is refreshing for being . . . a family. Built on integrity and fidelity.

Now, go in the other direction: Extend all benefits of the doubts: Say that Bill Clinton’s impeachment was politically motivated, nothing else. Say that Hillary Clinton was strictly a victim of her husband’s shamelessness. Say that her political career and aspirations are idealistically motivated, and that, on the issues, she is best suited to be the President of the US. What are you left with? Well, with the Obamas, you are left with the sense that there is a real, loving, genuine family standing in front of you.

Talking about discounts, one ought not to vote for or against a candidate strictly or even mainly on the basis of his or her family life. The office of the presidency, after all, is a leadership position, a matter of higher policy, diplomacy and politics; not an exercise in social work, clinical psychology or religiosity. Still, if Obama is elected in 2008, how refreshing is the prospect that our first family will be like the first family we have now . . . a genuine family.

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