Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Week of Stink Bombs and High-Wire Acts

The polls are climbing in Obama's favor, the economy is sinking at shocking speed, and John McCain's beloved sidekick continues throwing one stink bomb after another, to the point of inciting potential anti-Obama race riots. (Palin's cultivated malice almost makes the KKK look untutored.)

Article of the week goes to one of our local columnists, Rick Horowitz, for his great opening line:

"Let me see if I've got this straight: Sarah Palin is saying we don't know enough about Barack Obama?" THAT Sarah Palin, he queries, "who six weeks ago did not yet exist for 99 percent of the American people, and who made it through one vice presidential debate without spontaneously combusting right there on the stage, now [dares] to question Obama's background, character, honesty, and patriotism?"

Well, yeah. You betcha.

"Palin has been pressing the line that people don’t really know 'the real Barack 'Obama," echoed Gail Collins in the New York Times, "and who could make the argument better than a woman who we’ve already known for almost six weeks? Really, she’s like one of the family."

When someone, somewhere, asked Barack how he manages to deal with it all, especially the personal attacks and slurs that keep on spreading like an infectious disease, his response was mind-blowingly simple: "I don't mind having to work harder than anybody else." For all of Obama's touted eloquence, this is the comment, above all others, that makes me love him the most. When the following ruminations arrived on my email (written by a friend of a friend's sister, who sent it to me), my favorite comment, "I don't mind having to work harder than anybody else," took on new meaning:

"What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?
What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said 'I do' to?
What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife
after she no longer measured up to his standards?
What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers,
but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
What if Obama were a member of the 'Keating 5'?
What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?"

"If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election
numbers would be as close as they are?
This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities
in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.
Don't forget: What if Barack Obama had an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter....."

This week I also saw the film "Man on Wire," about a French high-wire artist, Philippe Petit, whose dream was to string a cable between the two towers of the World Trade Center and walk across it, from one building to the other. Since he knew he would never get official permission, the artist took it upon himself to carry out this feat as an undercover job, somewhat in the manner of a bank heist.

It took a year of secret maneuvers and phony passes to get his equipment up to a storage room on the roof and figure out how to attach the cable. After a night-long operation to attach the cable with the help of a few compatriots in crime, slightly after dawn, the artist proceeded to walk out onto it, some 1,350 feet above the ground.

Seeing Petit out there doing knee-bends, even at one point lying down on the wire, and then poised on one leg in mid-air so high against the sky, is not to believe your eyes. But it did remind me of Barack Obama, and I realized how a similar kind of courage, sure-footededness, and equanimity of being has characterized his own extraordinary tight-rope walk through this election. No litany of disgraceful epithets issued by GOP pit bulls can ever rival either of these men's remarkable accomplishments.

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