My parents and I met Michelle and Barack Obama in Conway, New Hampshire, last summer at a rally at Kennett High School. I remember I told a bunch of Lyndon Larouche zombies, “Lyndon Larouche is a nutcase who thinks the queen of England runs a worldwide drug ring. You should be working for this guy (Obama).”
I also made a decisive contribution to his subsequent electoral victory by not saying, “Hey Barack, isn’t it obvious we need a single payer health care system?” Being a truthful guy, he would have had to say yes, and that would have sunk his candidacy. Thankfully I have learned, late in life, how to keep my mouth shut, at least once in a while.
I think just about everyone in that gymasium had the same thought: “This guy’s the real deal.” But to tell the truth, I was most impressed with Michelle. And of course it reflected well on him that he acknowledged her role in his life and made her part of the conversation.
I gather that early on they had to flip a coin about who was going to be the candidate, and I’m not second-guessing their decision, but I will say this: I’d vote for her for anything in a New York minute.
I was going to write a blog entry called Obama’s the Real Deal, but I couldn’t, because I didn’t want to talk about my reaction when I realized he was the real deal. I did not want to give voice to this feeling of fear that came over me: “This guy is going to be shot.”
Here was a brave strong guy who understood the real strength of America. Here was a guy that was not going to take any shit from the blatherskites and the toadies of the rich.
The last guy like that was… sorry, Bill, sorry Jimmy… Robert F. Kennedy. And before that Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.
Please tell me that this feeling of dread is irrational, shaped by those three assassinations during my formative years. I dearly wish to believe you. But, I am sorry to say, I also have in mind Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, champions of the people of Rome in the second century BCE. Then there’s Jesus and St. Stephen and Ghandi, Benigno Aquino and so many others.
You start telling the truth and concentrating goodness in your person, and it somehow seems to attract violence. This is not some vague cosmic priniciple, it is a principle of ineluctable historic veracity: If you use the power of the people against the rich, take care for your personal safety. Julius Caesar neglected this small detail with a result that is well known.
In fact I believe that Romulus, the founder of Rome, was murdered for the very same reason. I don’t have time to go into it here, but here’s how I see that story: He became too popular with the people and was murdered by the senators, and they got a guy to say he saw Romulus ascend into heaven, and Romulus left a message for the people, this guy said, and that was to always be good soldiers (and defend the rich).
And the people turned out to be pretty good soldiers at that. Not only did they defend the rich, they brought in lots more riches! Hooray! Never mind that they lost their land and their children were sold at auction. Things were great! For who? You guessed it.
I always think twice before offering a prayer to the Almighty, but I sure do hope that these fears of a silly old man will be something we can all laugh about in years to come.