Monday, October 20, 2008

Eenie Meenie

If you've at all seen the clips on youtube of McCain rallies or the commercials produced by both campaigns, you know that Americans have their political ire up. The Common Man doesn't begrudge that. He is, after all, a political junky and revels in analyzing the process by which one guy gets elected to have a bunch of power over the rest of the guys. But The Common Man can easily see how this election season could be indescribably frustrating for most Americans, with its protracted electoral season and its strikingly unpleasant rhetoric back and forth. As the country inches ever closer to the second Tuesday in November, the election seems to take on greater and greater significance, the parties involved more and more shrill, and the stakes ever higher and higher.

In this hyper-political environment, perhaps its not surprising that both major party candidates have been elevated to a brand, of sorts, becoming dour and humorless symbols of something, corporate logos, rather than human beings. So, as the election season winds down (by winding up), The Common Man is pleased to see reminders that the candidates are, in fact, human freaking beings. It is sad, of course, that Barak Obama's grandmother is ill and that Joe Biden's mother-in-law passed away. But to see these candidates leave the field during what is, undoubtedly, the most important period of their lives is a reminder that, indeed, someone loves these two men. And they have people that they love.

Indeed, these people probably are upset about accusations that their grandson goes "palling around with terrorists" or is either un-American, a Muslim (not that this should be a problem), or both. Or they have to endure the claim that their father is "erratic," "unstable," and has a violent temper. Though candidates invite slander and cheap criticism simply by virtue of being politicians, there are those who stand with and behind these candidates who are affected by the attacks. Not that the realization that Obama's grandmother is probably listening in will stop the attacks (nor, really, should it), but that Americans listening in can remember that both tickets presumably come from strong family backgrounds, were raised by well-meaning, good people, and have a positive vision for how this country should and will be.

Likewise, when the nature of the campaign is to turn the candidates old before their time, and stump speeches and talking points seek to remove all semblance of a personality from these candidates, it's good to remember that, indeed, there is substance there. Whatever their detractors think of them, no one can claim that either Obama or McCain is an empty suit. And when John McCain can get up in front of the Al Smith Memorial Dinner, and deliver a brilliantly witty, smart, self-deprecating, and memorable speech in support of the Smith Memorial Fund, it only serves to remind America that he's a funny man, a man formerly much beloved in this country for his energy, his attitude, and his accomplishments.

Really, this weekend served to underlie the fact that, no matter who wins the election in two weeks, America will be in better hands than it has been in for eight years. While it may take time to resolve the challenges the country faces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Wall Street, America's next leader (provided John McCain doesn't die in office) will have the intelligence, political acumen, and humility to move the country forward. That's a comforting thought, even if The Common Man's preferred candidate stumbles in the coming weeks.

John McCain: One funny mother.

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