Welcome back to FitzFacts. My five week stint over at Fourth Place Medal is done, and the kids are back in school, so I should be hitting the blog pretty hard (emphasis on should). College football started last night, the Ravens are in a bigger quarterback dilemma than they expected, and the Orioles are limping into September, but the topic of the day has to be politics: Barack Obama's historic nomination and John McCain's vice presidential candidate selection.
Let's start with Obama - maybe I'll get to McCain next time. Like most of my political knowledge, I learned about Obama through the pages of the New Yorker and the programs of National Public Radio. The New Yorker profile was a precursor to the typical "Could this guy run for President?" article that I have read in that magazine about so many politicians (John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, etc.), but his appearance on the NPR show, "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me," in August, 2005, really caught my ear (Okay, I'm pretty sure I didn't hear the original broadcast, but as Obama's political star rose, they replayed the segment several times).
Obama was nominally on the show to play a quiz game, but most of his time was taken by a discussion of his attack on the overemphasis of 8th grade graduations. He felt that many schools and families were overreacting with limousines and parties for an achievement that warranted not much more than a handshake and a ride to the first day of high school. By the end of the segment, he had won over the hosts (and me, too). After all nothing warms my heart like an attack on innocent children, although now might be a good time to confess that my own 8th grade graduation featured a dinner and a dance with a live rock band. To be fair, the band was led by our concert band teacher, and they brought the house down with Kool and the Gang's "Celebration."
So, I have been a fan of the guy ever since. I watched some of the speech last night, not so much for particulars but just to absorb the moment a little. Even though I am going to vote for him, I still can't quite believe he might actually win. People can talk about inexperience, age, the Iraq War, hope, and how many houses all they want, but I still believe race will have a greater impact on this presidential campaign than all those factors combined.
I know we'd all like to think we've moved beyond that and I hope we have, but I am not entirely convinced. I remember being in high school and watching one of the candidates for student government president check the list of students marked absent, counting white kids as votes he'd lost and black kids as votes he'd gained. A few years later, when I was working at GW, the student body president was forced to resign because he referred to his black opponent with the N-word in a private conversation. That was more than 15 years ago, but I'm not sure we've changed enough.
I doubt I'll ever watch his entire speech. I prefer to go looking for this one: