I have to admit, he grew on me. It took a long time too. First off, there was the other guy: assertive, direct, with a movie star smile. The other guy was almost too good looking but his mind – wow! He could best every guy in the room with his youthful grin and intellectual prowess. How could I possibly give my heart to the tall skinny guy who seemed almost too conciliatory, too nice. I have always been suspicious of the motives of nice men. I can’t bring myself to believe they aren’t just tricking me.
I took me a long time to face that it was over with the man I had originally chosen. I ignored all the signs and kept hoping that it would work out. It didn’t. It was time to settle. I turned my attention to the skinny guy. I reluctantly acknowledged his funny lines, his quick responses, his sincerity, though I still wasn’t quite sure about him. Someone would compliment him and I would say “yah, but…”
I remember the moment when it started to turn for me: it was when I saw him dancing, oddly enough. He was totally in his body. He was sexy, self-assured but not too full of himself either. He was one with the music and I totally believed him. “Okay,” I thought “time to get to know this guy better.”
Truth be told, I was scared. I have been let down so many times before by so-called nice guys – a promise of something real dangled in front of me only to be snatched away by a moment of dishonesty, compromise or cowardice. At least with the bad boys you know what you‘re getting. Guaranteed heartbreak – no surprises. Bad boys are seductive. They’re primitive and overly macho but absolutely certain about who they are.
Then a couple of days ago came the speech and folks, I was hooked. When he speaks sometimes, that skinny guy grows bigger than this whole wide world. He eloquently addressed the race issue in this country in a way that no presidential candidate has ever done before. He condemned the words of his minister while acknowledging his affection and ties to the pastor and pointing out the complexity that is in all of us. He was honest, direct and real and it showed in every gesture, every eye movement, every beat of his speech. If he were an actor I would have said it was a perfect performance but that’s the thing about him. He’s not an actor. He’s a man. He’s a real, flesh and blood human being. He’s the kind of person you hope will run for President but never does. He’s brilliant but he has a heart. He refuses to use the Democratic playbook and that may be why he’ll pull this off.
I don’t know if he will win but he’s won my heart, which has been broken every four years since I worked for the second McGovern campaign, which has calcified out of fear that my giving my heart to a candidate guarantees that he’ll lose, which still longs to believe in a political figure just one more time.
This is why finally, happily, and with cautious optimism, I am supporting Barack Obama for President.