Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday eve: what a moment

I'm sad the Patriots lost Super Bowl 42, but I relished the intensity of the game, its dramatic reversals and moments of bliss and agony. A game envelops me all the more when I can so clearly see its importance to the players, and when I believe, at least a little, in the purpose of each team.

I'll risk being crass and say that there is no clear seam, for me, between the intensity and gravity I felt Sunday and what I feel tonight, just after midnight at the beginning of Super Tuesday.

I'm voting for Obama, because I agree with him most often (though he's strangling health care reform in the cradle) and really like the author of Dreams From my Father (continuing the Kennedy parallels, if it ever comes out that Obama had help, just remember that Profiles in Courage didn't exactly leap out fully formed from Jack Kennedy's brain either).

But it's remarkable not just that the neck-and-neck Dems are a white woman and a black man, but that they are both competent, charismatic, articulate and knowledgeable people who don't trade on fearmongering and lies, at least as far as you can expect these days. I've been troubled by Hillary's willingness to say anything to get elected (it's not just a catchphrase -- if you vote in New York, you've been getting mailings asking things like "Do you know what your kids are doing online?" from Hillary for years), and my wife goes through the case against Hillary quite convincingly at her new blog (which has its own catchphrase: "There's nothing wrong with a president who happens to be hot"). But I've written it before, and I'll write it again: she is a gifted speaker and a great debater, far better than Al Gore or John Kerry. And it bears noting that Obama is as lousy a debater as he is an incandescent (to borrow the New York Times editorial board's word) speech maker.

What's more, they blew past several white men who I thought had good cases for nomination: the centrist Mark Warner, Virginia's most popular governor ever; Joe Biden, a much-liked Senate foreign policy fixture (from a key swing state) who debates well; and John Edwards, who people seem to love although I find him chemically irritating and he let Dick Cheney control every minute of their disastrous vice-presidential debate in 2004.

(By the way, McCain will be hard to beat, but mark my words: he doesn't do well on TV. Seriously, if you watch him speak, he seems constantly off balance and a little off-putting. Mike Huckabee was the best speaker in the GOP crowd by far.)

It's an inspiring moment for the country, and makes me proud to be an American.