As I read his book, Dreams from my Father, I'm struck by how powerfully Barack Obama brings back the shape, the smell, the look and the feel of certain moments in time. He reminds me of what it was like to be a child in the 1960s and a college student in the late 1970s or early 1980s. To be formed in the post- New Deal, post-1960s, pre-Reagan world. He brings back the feel of those days, when people had serious discussions about socialism and feminism, and government was not considered a curse. When above all things, we didn't want to become bourgeois.
Forgotten emotions stir in me as I read Obama. I wonder if Caroline Kennedy, a great Obama supporer, doesn't feel the same stirrings. We all are of an age, a mini-generation. If Obama takes as his starting point idealized images of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s, and Caroline Kennedy starts from her idealized images of her father's presidency as a return to Camelot, wouldn't that make them likely partners?
As has been often said, Obama resonates with young people. That's clear to me, living with teens who find him "cool" and from talking to the streams of 17- and 18-years when I worked in the primary elections as an election judge.
But I wonder now if Obama doesn't have a special resonance, either for good or for ill, for people who are of his same mini-generation as him, those of us born between about 1957 and 1963, people too young to participate in the 1960s, to have friends in Viet Nam or go to Woodstock, people who spent all of the 60s as children but are old enough to remember those times.
On the other hand, my proximity in age to Obama has, I think, made me unimpressed with him.
Obama is now being taken apart for his "ambition" and "opportunism," just as Clinton was. Can we get over this? To run for President is, by definition, to be ambitious and opportunistic.
It would be nice if Obama could prove to be another Lincoln, but I don't hold my breath. I also worry that his race will derail him. I hope this will not happen but I'm white and I know how white people think. White people are good at getting nervous about race and then convincing themselves they're nervous for some other, more socially acceptable, reason. For instance, anxiety about sending one's children to school with minority children translates into concern about "test scores." This then leads to flight to white areas, which might look racist, but which white people would deny had anything to do with race. I wonder if a white nervousness about the Obama's blackness (even though he's biracial) will build up and translate into some widespread anxiety about some other issue that is acceptable. Again, I hope this doesn't happen, and I hope that the younger generations are less uptight about race than their parents and grandparents!
Who are you supporting for President? What do you think of Obama?