Sunday, May 11, 2008

Obama's Mom, McCain's and Chelsea's

Today John McCain is unveiling a sassy TV commercial with his 96-year-old mother to remind voters about his good genes and American values. Iffy as it may be to call attention to his age, the ad underscores the diversity of motherhood in this campaign.

Roberta McCain, who gave birth to her son at a Naval Air Station in Panama, where her husband, the son of an Admiral and a future Admiral himself, was based, radiates the aura of a strict, no-nonsense parent out of a bygone era. John McCain always knew exactly who he was.

Barack Obama's mother was a dreamer with, in his words, a "combination of being very grounded in who she was, what she believed in...but also a certain recklessness...always searching for something. She wasn't comfortable seeing her life confined to a certain box." Her travels and exotic marriages produced a unique bi-racial man who has spent his life finding and creating himself.

Somewhere between these extremes of certainty and self-invention is Hillary Clinton's biographical journey from a well-to-do suburban childhood that took her to college as a Goldwater girl, transformed her into a Eugene McCarthy protester against the Vietnam war and eventually the first woman within striking distance of the presidency.

In this post-Victorian, post-Freudian era, motherhood comes in all shapes and sizes, producing remarkable diversity in the generation that will define the 21st century.

Happy Mother's Day to one and all.

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