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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

...............................................................Thomas Jefferson

Monday, April 7, 2008

Personal Prisms

Each of us looks at life through our own personal prism. A spoiled, profligate son acts with recklessness and gets us into a fiasco in Iraq. Why would anyone expect any different? For the indulgent parents who raised him, substitute now the enablers of media and party who put him into power. And the cost is never his to pay.

This weekend, 2/3 of the remaining major presidential candidates dropped by the North Dakota State Democratic-NPL convention and gave all of us the opportunity to take their measure.

Barack Obama packed ’em to the rafters at the Alerus Center on the University of North Dakota campus, some 16,500 strong. But even in a pre-speech gathering on a smaller scale, he commanded the room as he spoke. He is a man who exudes intelligence and and a self-deprecating humor that fits with ease. A man comfortable in his own skin, assured in his style. Whether standing before a crowd of thousands or walking alone.

He tells a story of a campaign stop early on in Greenwood, SC. A much tinier venue than he realized when he agreed to appear. A rainy morning, short on sleep, a hundred miles from anywhere. And a wee woman, The Chant Lady, who revved up the “crowd” of about 20 with the chant…fire up, ready to go. Fire up, ready to go. Fire up…. Got ’em calling back to her. Fire up, fire up; ready to go, ready to go.

And he says, with that inviting grin, after a few minutes of that, he was fired up and ready to go….

Nowadays, of course, he packs ’em in wherever he goes in tens of thousands, as he did a short time later in Grand Forks. And he captivates the crowd from the first “Uff da,” making the transition to oratory, yes, but woven seamlessly with policy notes, should listeners choose to hear them. You have a sense that the community organizer/activist in him sometimes shakes his head and says, wow, can you believe it? Look how far weve come already. Can you believe what we can accomplish….

And primary by primary, state by state, caucus by caucus, poll by poll, the better people get to know him, to hear his story and his vision, the more they’re saying hey, we can accomplish…. Because Obama makes clear that he has expectations of the rest of us, too.

This is a man who won’t need to have someone whisper corrections in his ear about war logistics, names or places. A man who walks over to a young boy in a huge arena and calls him by name though they've never met before, because at a crowded rope line earlier in the afternoon, his gramma pointed him out sitting on his daddy's shoulder. Personal prisms.

Hillary Clinton’s personal prism is her partnership with Bill and she weaves a solid tapestry of that with connections to the Flood of 1997 and how the Clinton administration came to the aid of the Red River Valley of the North when we needed our government most. And contrasted that with the debacle of the Gulf Coast during and post-Katrina under Bush and heckuva job Brownie.

We’ve taken the measure of two of the three candidates, and know that though we have one strong preference, each would serve us and America well.

We’re still awaiting the other. We’ve seen him from a distance. We’ve heard his life story, the haunting endurance trial he faced in Viet Nam. But questions still remain from that time for a lot of us. And as we watch sons and daughters, families who sacrifice for this current war-turned-occupation of Iraq, we wonder if lessons—the right lessons—have been learned after all this time.

And because he’s a heartland neighbor, we lend credence to the words of Chuck Hagel more than John McCain. Because enduring imprisonment, enduring torture is a heroic effort, but it’s not a litmus test.

Tuesday, each of these three—Obama, Clinton, McCain—will have a leadership test as their Senate committee holds a hearing on Iraq with General Petraeus. We know each will bring their personal prism—endurance, experience, judgment—to the questioning. But we’ll be watching with our personal prism, too.


Petraeus and Crocker testify before the Senate Armed Services Ctte [Clinton, McCain] at 9:30 a.m. ET, before the Senate Cttee on Foreign Relations [Obama] at 2:30 p.m. ET. Hagel and Minn's vulnerable Sen. Coleman sit on Foreign Relations also. Should be an interesting day.

1 comment:

Bustednuckles said...

Hello sweetie, long time no speak.
I was thinking about you and wondered if you would like to play a little tag.