Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reality Intrudes on the Presidential Race

Judging from tonight's news, Madelyn Dunham may not live long enough to see her grandson inaugurated President of the United States, a cruel irony for the woman Barack Obama says "poured everything she had into me."

As Obama leaves tomorrow to be with his ailing grandmother in Hawaii, mortality suddenly intrudes and, for a moment, reveals the presidential campaign to be a long-running TV reality show with all the fake trimmings.

In his convention acceptance speech, Obama said "when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman.

"She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well."

In the Oval Office, a President makes life-and-death decisions every day and, in time, they become abstractions. In the next two days, Barack Obama will be confronting the reality of pain and loss in the most personal possible way, a final legacy from the woman who wanted him to have a better life.

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