A publicist friend just said to me, “I don’t know if Barack Obama is prepared to be president.” And I said, “And Bush 43 was? An intellectually challenged frontman for vested oil and other military- industrial interests, and a putty-like pawn of his father’s right-wing friends? Abraham Lincoln, a jack-legged legislator from Illinois with a knack for plain talk and “reading” people and political accommodation, was prepared? JFK had gone to U.S. Presidents School and was fully prepared? Bill Clinton hit the ground running? Jimmy Carter‘s training as Georgia’s governor was adequate preparation, and he used that background to form a brilliant political consensus and provide masterful leadership for the U.S.?
Leadership is about judgment, brains, vision, alliances, consensus-building. It’s time to turn the page, start the 21st Century engine and roll the dice.
Then my publicist pal wondered if America is ready for a black president, and I said there are at least 43 or 44 shades of non-Anglo Saxon pigmentation, and 43 or 44 different types of personalities and value systems to go with each. By any cultural standard I’ve ever known or gone by, I said to her, Barack Obama isn’t black — he’s latte. Which feeds into the term “Starbucks liberals,” who (apparently) compose the base of his support. Or at least the emotional base.
We need to prove to the world and ourselves that our multicultural society means something more than just statistics and percentages and charts, and we need to show to the pan-Arabic world that the term “American leadership” is not just about oil and imperialism and belligerence, and is not synonymous with right-wing ogres like Dick Cheney.
And I don’t know about that Bobby Kennedy guy either, I said. I don’t know if I can trust him. He’s only 42 years old. He’s the son of a corrupt multi-millionaire, the brother of a flagrant womanizer, and he worked for Sen. Joseph McCarthy and has a long reputation for hard, ruthless behavior. And who says he’s been such a great U.S. Senator? Has he ever heard of birth control? And he didn’t have the courage to stand up to Lyndon Johnson‘s Vietnam War policy on his own — he let Eugene McCarthy do it first, and then he jumped in after the waters had been tested.
I don’t know. I really don’t know. Hubert Humphrey has a lot more experience, and so does Richard Nixon, for that matter. I think people should vote for one of these two and let Kennedy wait his turn, maybe try again in ’76.