Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My left arm

Barack Obama's half-sister and her husband get to vote for him for the first time! That other arm on the table is mine, my little claim to fame, as Maya Soetoro-Ng said to me: This is so exciting, this is so exciting.

It definitely is.

And for those who want to know where he came from here's a great article on his mother, a strong role model for an extraordinary son.

The Time Has Come

Last night I went to my caucus site in Hawaii to vote for Barack Obama. As a child of the 60s, political movements and especially anti-war movements have been a part of my life. I jumped on the Howard Dean wagon early on. It stymied me why people could not see the futility of the Iraq War at once. George W. Bush did not make a case for that war. Were we so desperate to strike out that any violent act on our part seemed just?

I've gone to many caucuses here; none have filled the school cafeteria. It's mainly party business with a preferential preference poll tacked on, the candidate generally decided. Occasionally a group would make a stand - Dennis Kucinich had a vocal group, Dean was already out last time - but otherwise it's an orderly event, a bit boring, picking delegates and officers for the state and county conventions. Those with vested interests showed up, the casual voter did not.

Last night had lines around the caucus sites hours before the event. Few knew the rules, that a caucus is different and usually done when everyone is seated. But with several thousand waiting, that changed quickly. Groups voted in waves and left; it was nonstop for two hours. The excitement - and not just because Obama is homegrown, few of the crowd were from Punahou, his school. There were old and young, working and not, educated and not so much. There was, in short, a complete cross section of the electorate, many registering for the first time.

That's a movement. Chuck Todd, the NBC political reporter has some interesting insights into this race. But he wasn't in that room, he didn't see people who had little in common except their realization that this country deserves better than the same junk they've been fed. He didn't see two thousand people squished into a cafeteria to make their voice heard, not for the measly 20 delegates we get, but because they wanted to matter.

Hillary Clinton is losing because as the kids used to say, she's so five minutes ago. She's running her husband's campaign all over - hey, it worked once. Loyalty to the Clintons is everything, it trumps even common sense. As the underdog - as they were in '92, it's easy to take risks. No longer. She took no risk. She played it by the numbers. And tried to maneuver after the tidal wave came ashore.

Barrack Obama is on fire. I'm sure Clinton will get down and dirty - we ain't seen nothin' yet - to salvage what she's grown to believe was hers. She put all the pieces into play, the establishment Dems, and took the voters for granted. As they say in Hollywood, she began to believe her own press.

It's a new century. We deserve a new leader.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

And Away We Go....

Wow, who knew the division would now be within the hearts and minds of the Democrats? We are faced with two equally talented choices - one is "the bridge to the last century" and one is "the audacity of hope." We as a nation - because it's a probability that the winner of the Democratic ticket will win in November - must now decide whether it's time to take that leap of faith and aim for structural change or go with a more tested method of governance. Clinton is yesterday no matter how much she talks of change and no matter how precedent setting as a woman; and Obama represents that moment in life when you go with your gut, when it just feels right.

People who have never been involved in politics are joining those of us who always loved it. My first envelope stuffing was for Bobby Kennedy and Another Mother for Peace. It feels like deja vu all over again. Howard Dean - I believe - set off a movement that derailed him, the timing was not quite there. Bush hadn't hit bottom and then sunk further into his self-made quagmire. But I heard Pat Buchanan, a man I've never agreed with, say this war is a disaster, and that John McCain is a hawk and we'll be in one war after another if he becomes president. I didn't hear him say it, but if given the choice he is likely to vote for Obama. And that, voters, is proof that Obama can bring people together.

Right now Barack Obama is 4 delegates up. It's gonna be a fight, the Clintons have a machine right out of Republican playbooks. But sometimes that doesn't matter, sometimes the time is so right that nothing can derail. Ironically, one of her stumbles was about Martin Luther King. He was not the first one with that message, nor the last; but he was the right man at the right time and it was his message that resonates the most.

Let it be that time again.