THE SPINE FEBRUARY 22, 2008
He actually brought tears to my eyes. "I was born to a teen-aged mother," said Barack Obama, thereby locating his origins in poverty, which is true and also relevant. He told the nation that in the Austin debate, as he had told his listeners in many appearances during the campaign. He did not say, however, "to a white teen-aged mother," unspoken and unnecessary. After all, everybody knows that fact, and the fact is symptomatic of our whole society. Teen-aged motherhood is not just an attribute of black girls. Teen-aged motherhood is a cross-race phenomenon and, given the relentless mixing of colors in the new melting pot (yes, that's what I think it is), it will soon be completely morphed into a multi-racial phenomenon. God bless us, truly. There is closure and opening in the commonality of Barack Obama's origins. He is the first African American candidate for president to be taken seriously, very seriously. (Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton both being hokum.) And he is the first multi-racial candidate for president, and I believe he will govern in the White House. God bless us and him. Barack Obama is an achiever, a real achiever, deep and fast. Maybe some of my readers don't quite grasp what kind of mind comes with a professor of constitutional law at the University Of Chicago, right up there with Cass Sunstein and Richard Posner, who are probably not qualified to be president of the United States. A lawyer in the poor streets of Chicago and a lawyer interpreting the constitution for the people and for the bench. Yes, Hillary was a lawyer, too In the crude and smoothe fix-it Rose law firm in Little Abner, oops, I mean Little Rock. So one of the dreams fulfilled by Obama is that he has risen neither on somebody else's shoulders nor on the gentle upward path of privilege. I believe that this country, our country, is now in need of admirable symbols. And not particularly of children of the elites. We've already had F.D.R. and J.F.K., and going back all the way to the dawn of the Republic. And we have already had children (though not daughters) of the solid middle class. Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, just as instances. To give fullness to the paradigm and promise of an open society, we could not do better -- at least in this contest -- than to choose a brilliant and articulate, pragmatic and embracing child of a poor teen-age mother.