president barack hussein obama i was able to see barack obama speak to a relatively small group of people in portsmouth, nh in december of 2006. this was almost 4 months prior to his announcement that he was going to make a run for the office of president. i'm not pointing this out to give you the impression that i'm incredibly involved in grassroots politics (i'm not), or that, by seeing obama in person, i'm any better equipped to judge his ability to run our country than anyone else (i'm not). i'm pointing this out because, at the time, i was just a dude who had grown incredibly frustrated and embarrassed by the last six years of george w. bush and his gang of douchebags. i was just a dude who seriously was aching for something different, and so i decided to tag along with my sister-in-law to hear him speak. i had seen his now legendary speech at the dnc, and i had read his memoir, and felt that this guy was definitely different than your average dickhead president.
people talk about the rock star quality that obama possesses. it's talked about almost as if it's a myth or a media invention. i don't really like the term 'rock star' when describing a politician. and i think that the obama thing is much more than that. the term rock star evokes a one-way relationship, whereas being in the room with barack obama, you feel that he is grateful that you are there, and that he actually gives a shit about you and can relate to you. this may be a brilliant bit of acting, but if so, it's a damn good one. hearing obama speak that day, i was filled with a sense of pride that i hadn't felt in the past several years. you actually believed the notion that perhaps things can change, that maybe we can salvage our tattered image globally, that maybe normal people making normal amounts of money could actually wrest some of the power back from the upper 2%.
i walked out of that building feeling great. i set up a page on obama's website where i could help raise money for his campaign. i got involved with getting the word out. the day he announced officially he was running was a great day. i watched the speech on youtube very soon after it was given. it was awesome.
then shit started happening. all the hating from the right-wing media, the bad land deal, the 'he's a coke-snorting pothead' stuff, etc., etc. then the donnie mcclurkin fiasco. that one hurt. how could this guy, who i felt believed in almost everything i did, invite a homophobic, ignorant douchebag to perform at one of his fundraising events? oh, then came the backpedaling, and digging himself deeper into a hole. i had friends in the gay community who became irate with me for not condemning him immediately and switching my energy and allegiance to another candidate. part of it was that i didn't want to believe that he would purposefully align himself with a mcclurkin. part of it was that i felt i had invested so much in the guy that i couldn't give up on him. i wrote a letter to his campaign voicing my frustration with the choice to add mcclurkin. i received a considerate, if not completely forthcoming, reply (form letter, of course). barack had really stepped in it this time.
it was that point that i realized that he, or any politician, will ever be able to remain that unblemished, perfect voice of hope and reason – not if he stays in politics anyway. and like they say, you can't please all the people all of the time. not that that excuses any alignment with individuals who espouse ignorance and intolerance.
as a strongly athiest-leaning agnostic, i have a hard time with faith. i do not like to see people believe in something that they cannot prove. (i also have a hard time watching politicians discuss their religious beliefs.) but at the end of the day, after the donnie mcclurkin shit went down, i could not believe that barack obama purposefully meant to further marginalize the lgbt community. i do not believe that he shares those beliefs. i do believe that he would do more than any president in history in regards to supporting the lgbt cause. i do realize how easy it may be for many to just completely write him off as a pandering, two-faced, ignoramus. i accept that, and i think it's completely valid. but i have this faith thing. i also am incredibly forgiving. (bush and co. are out of luck in that department, howevever.) i understand how incredibly difficult it must be for politicians to appeal across all the various demographics that are crucial to their win. and in doing so, i imagine it is ridiculously easy to piss people off, to come off as pandering, or to just put your foot in your mouth or say (or yell, in dean's case) something completely ridiculous that will ruin your candidacy. obama's actions (or inaction) re: donnie mcclurkin were, i believe, the result of poor research, poorly executed campaign planning, and being a fucking politician. he stepped in a big pile of shit and he panicked. if you step in one pile of shit to avoid another pile of shit, you certainly have a soiled shoe, but you still might get into the prom. if you set each of your shoes in both piles of shit, you probably will be going home early. politics is shitty. you could say buh-bye to him for the whole thing, or you can have the faith that obama can heal the wounds he caused with the mcclurkin fiasco, that he can come through on his past commitments.
lastly, it's this: i think being president is kind of like being the spokesperson for a club. we're members of the club whether we like it or not. and if i can't be the spokesperson for the club, then by golly, i want the person representing me, and speaking on my behalf, to be someone who i have faith in to say the right things, to think things through, to speak intelligently, to solve problems, to work with different folks with different beliefs and backgrounds and ideologies. i don't give a shit if the president of my club has carried a gun, run a large corporation, been married to an ex-president, or been the mayor. i don't give a shit. i just want them to be hopeful, have empathy, give a shit about me, to be smart enough to hire the people around them who can do the stuff he doesn't know how to, to delegate, and to be open to change. he doesn't hate gay people. how do i know this? i just do.
yeah, he's already fucked up some. but show me anyone else that you'd trust watching your kid for five minutes, or that you'd trust to make a phone call on your behalf. ok, maybe john edwards. sign him up for veep. it's your club, dammit. these folks are an extension of you. don't fuck it up.