Woke this morning to Cokie Roberts on NPR, saying that in voter’s eyes, Obama’s debate performance did for him what Reagan’s did for him in 1980: it made voters comfortable with him. Most of us, she said, want to throw the bums out (as we did with Carter in 1980). When they saw Obama more than hold his own on stage with McCain, many felt convinced, perhaps for the first time, that they could vote for him.
As I reported after the NJDC conference, that was exactly what Obama was hoping for. If that’s the narrative that takes hold now, it’s a very good thing.
Also, the Akron Beacon Journal had a front page article this morning (“Palin Gifts, Zoning Help Listed; What she got as mayor contrast to stump claim”) detailing how Palin was a walking, talking conflict of interest as mayor of Wasilla. (You can read it here.) Here’s the nut:
Though Sarah Palin depicts herself as a pit bull fighting good-old-boy politics, in her years as mayor she and her friends received special benefits more typical of small-town politics as usual, an Associated Press investigation shows.
When Palin needed to sell her house during her last year as Wasilla mayor, she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception – and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard.
She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free “awesome facial” she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The “absolutely gorgeous flowers” she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon to take home.
Still, I find myself nervous. In the NY Times today, Kristol argues (“How McCain Wins“) that Obama signaling out McCain for not mentioning the words “middle class” during the debate makes a Rev. Wright ad fair game. The McCain A-Team is parachuting in to Sarah Palin’s debate prep operation, to help turn her back into the straight-talking conservative firebrand that America fell in love with at the GOP Convention. There’s a narrative taking hold that she’s about to be “released.” I’m worried she’ll out-perform what surely must be historic low expectations, mainly by swiping at Obama, and that Biden won’t have an effective retort.
Oh, and I’m worried about a 600-point stock market plunge.
Frankly, I’m shocked that the House failed to pass the bailout bill. A Congressional source told me this afternoon that John Boehner, the House minority leader, had promised 100 GOP votes supporting the bill. In the end, they mustered only 66 — ensuring its defeat. And Wall Street mayhem.
Don’t be fooled. Wall Street mayhem means Main Street pain and suffering, all across the country today.
Um … thank god John McCain was there to help?
But this is my last post of the Jewish year. And so, with only a few hours until sunset, Erev Rosh Hashanah, I wanted to end on a slightly different note.
In the midst of all this political and financial turbulence, I received an email today from a friend who grew up in Ohio, but now lives out West. While in town recently, he’d seen a copy of a local newsletter I’d helped put out, which included an article about a Canton women he knew from his childhood. He explained all of this in his email to me, and then wrote:
[She] has a brother … who, about 38 years ago, was waiting for me to walk home with him from our shul in Canton after a Shabbat kiddush. I completely forgot about him that day and I imagine that my standing him up caused him to wait for a long time due to my absence of mind. I’ve been meaning to apologize for all this time and the serendipity of seeing this article, combined with this being Elul, makes me want to make this the year to make that apology. Could you find out her email address so I can ask her for [his] email and/or phone number?
When I read this, everything else — all the craziness of this political moment, all the uncertainty I feel about this election campaign, all the fear that comes with living in these particular times — dropped away.
Somewhere, in that email, exists the kernel of everything that is right with the world, even now. Somewhere, in those lines, is evidence of the rarest kind of compassion and caring — one person for another, even if they don’t know them that well — that can lodge in the heart and stick there, four decades on.
At the end of the day, at the end of a year, isn’t that what all of this is about?
L’Shanah Tova Tikatevu. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and sweet New Year.