I spent this morning’s commute discussing last night’s post (and comments) with my Mother.  I should point out that when it comes to politics, my mom is firmly soft-spoken, and does not consider it appropriate to attempt to sway anyone’s opinions.  However, since I was actively looking for information on a couple of different points, she was very obliging with details from her own experience.  I’ve since made note of the following things:

  • I don’t like either Presidential candidate, but I’ve already made it clear that I don’t have to like who I vote for.  As with everything else, I’m concerned first with an individual’s ability to get the job done.  I know that John McCain would be a lousy President and a terrible leader.  I’m not convinced that Barack Obama would be a decent President, let alone a good one.  Those are different understandings.
  • Jimmy Carter is among my top two favorite American Presidents – I have a tough time choosing between Carter and Teddy Roosevelt.  (Generally Roosevelt ends up winning only because he’s from New York, and I’m a New Yorker first, American second.)  When he took office amid major international upheaval, Carter’s inexperience was terrifying to the American public — but he rose to the occasion and surprised a nation, become one of the finest leaders this country has known.  Point: inexperience can (and frequently does) surprise us.
    (I am properly chastised for not automatically keeping this top of mind, since I’m younger and less experienced than pretty much everyone I work with, and yet do a damn fine job “rising to the occasion.”)
  • In many ways, Barack Obama reminds me of the things I dislike about JFK, historically speaking.  But, as Mom pointed out, the political climate, the prevalence of news media, and the power of the American public is such that no amount of arrogance or brashness on the part of a new, young President will overcome the power of political handlers and the sway of public opinion to such a degree that we’d have a foreign policy incident commensurate with the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Some of my concerns are diminished. But I will wish until the day that I die that Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic Presidential Nomination for Election 2008, so I could go to the polls with real verve and vim and overwhelming enthusiasm.