Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Motivation and Misdemeanors

Ah, the election is over. Aside from the full-bore linear smugness now emanating from the louder Democrats, the world has gone silent. Two more months of Dubya and, or so they say, the new Peace in Our Time will reign. I certainly hope so. I’m excited – and distressed for – any administration to be going in after the current one. There are certainly a lot of broken dishes and empty pizza boxes to clean up.

It’s kind of entertaining to see the local die-hard Republicans wearing their sackcloth and ashes. Well, if their national party had done a better job at picking a candidate, and if that candidate had done a better job at picking a running mate, perhaps things would be different. But I doubt it.

Just realized something: Berkeley Breathed was wrong. Way back in the 1980s, the father of Oliver Wendell Holmes, consoling a disconsolate Mr. Binkley for his loathing of Jesse Jackson, said “The first black in the White House will be a conservative,” and admitted that he had himself voted for Al Haig in that primary season. Well, now we have a liberal African-American headed to the White House. And I’m fine with that. I voted the party, not the man.

I know of three family members who voted for Obama, including myself. An older sister voted for him “because he only owns four pairs of shoes,” she told another sister, who also cast her vote in the Democratic fashion. For pairs of shoes versus an unverified number of houses. That makes sense in a weird, Trivial Pursuit kind of way.

Clan Davidson, you should understand, with a few exceptions, has traditionally leaned Democratic. That comes in two parts: First, Dad was a Democrat, liked to say that this was a great country to live in if you have money, but if you don’t it’s one of the worst places to live. Also, there’s a streak of contrarianism that gallops through the family. Tell us to vote Republican because that’s what’s done in this area of the world and we’re going to march right into that booth and darken that circle for the other guy. Most of the time.

My wife, from a rather Republican family, voted for Ralph Nader. She wasn’t pleased with either candidate from the major parties. Nor was I. I suppose I wanted to vote for Obama to say I’d voted for him. Not because he’s black. Not necessarily because he’s a Democrat. But because I wanted to. Because a lot of people around me said I shouldn’t because he’ll bring the world down around his shoulders. After looking at the last Republican administration, I figure why not give a Democrat the same chance to screw things up? And maybe he’ll do better.

But it all comes down to what P.J. O’Rourke says. All these politicians go to Washington with an eye on making the town over in their name, and few succeed. Because few, once they’re there, can overcome this beast that swallows them up with the all-consuming troubles that are inherent in the office. Richard Nixon said misdemeanors were inherent to the office. That’s nothing compared to what’s inherent to the office these days. Good luck, Mr. Obama – you’ll need it.

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