Another comment to yet another interesting post by Foster. (The advantage I have over some of our commentors is that I can put up a post when I realize I’m getting too long-winded and too off-topic.)
Palin’s high energy may not rescue the McCain candidacy but at least it’s enlivening. Obama appears to have energized some passions in Manhatten as well as across the country, if dulling other civil & communal qualities. Transferring religious fervor to the political leads to some strange results. Of course, that is why political fervor is both compelling – and disturbing. Belmont Club discusses one.
I lived in Hyde Park in ’68-’69; this was the era of Blackstone Rangers/Disciples turf battles. One of my colleagues was glad a neighbor joined the Black Muslim movement because it encouraged middle class responsibilities; of course, as a white woman she found its tenets off-putting and bigoted. Another Obama group, the parents of these children can take pride in their children’s performances and some of the remarks at Reason and edited parodies are a little over the top.
In both clips children have warmed to a disciplined structure, been encouraged to practice and work as a group – not bad skills. Dreams need discipline as counterweight – or reality check. Still, submitting yourself to these light regimens may lead to harder and extended preparation for a career. Obama worship may be no worse than hero worship of Frankie or Elvis or the Beatles, of Sarte or Buckminster Fuller or Dylan or Carl Sagan. Better optimism than the pessimism easily accepted by teenage cynics.
I would be more comfortable, however, if these passions were seen through the jaundiced eye of earlier parents. He is not just an adolescent heart throb or sports hero. But I would be happier if the press, generally quite willing to make human those in power, kept that human perspective. Most of all, I’d be happier if I didn’t suspect the parents were like those in Foster’s post – adolescent in behavior and immature in reflection.
And of course no matter how many women of my mother’s generation screamed at Frankie or of mine sighed at Elvis, no matter that the Beatles spoke of their fame in terms of Jesus’ – none was likely to be charged with leading the most prosperous and militarily powerful country in the world. None would assume the duty – to protect its freedoms, to husband and increase its prosperity and power – to add value to that history. (Obama himself seems to have quite other ambitions).
Our country was defined by a Constitution (one not read, apparently, by Biden who professes it); its first head remarkably handed his sword in to civilian authorities after the Revolution and later believed one of the worst precedents for this newly formed republic would be if the first president died in office. Washington set in motion our now long history – one in which the next president will become an integral part. I hope he is awed by that honor and that history. Our history demonsrates that duty often requires renunciation of personal gain and immediate gratification; above all, it demonstrates the importance of renunciation of personal – and at times of national – power. McCain may be impulsive; he can be self-righteous. But his humility leads him to sense at gut level that long history. I hope (but am not always reassured) the Obama/Biden ticket has that historical insight – one necessary to encourage some kinds of enthusiasm and discourage others.