U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) run for the Presidency has caught the nation's imagination. A black President? Could it be? And he might pull it off. He's the son of a Kenyan immigrant and a Kansas farm girl who happens to be a relative of Jefferson Davis. How's that for irony? A descendant of Jefferson Davis becomes President... but he's black.
All very storybook. Well, I have a story of my own about him. Not very long, not very compelling, but it gave me an impression of the man that I can't shake. Certainly, it won't be enough to shake his supporters' confidence in him (nor should it; it's purely anecdotal), but I still feel compelled to share it.
I went to a town hall meeting he was holding while I was stationed at Scott AFB, IL. I was an Illinois resident, and thus a constituent of the newly-elected senator. I sat, listened to him speak, and listened to him answer questions. He was impressive in front of a crowd. Seemed to know what he was talking about at all times. Seemed to say all the right things. Afterwards, I wanted to go shake his hand, as I had just voted for him the previous fall by absentee while I was deployed to the Middle East (Qatar).
He was walking toward the door, and a crowd and gathered. I stood and waited, and then he walked right by me. Hm, must not have seen me. Walked a little further down, he walked by me again. Walked down one more time, and finally he extended his hand, gave me a wet fish (seriously the weakest handshake and the softest hands I've ever felt on a man) and kept looking forward. Not so much as a nod and a "hi, how are you". Nothing.
Thing is, I was in my service dress, which even an insincere politician would recognize as a photo op, and yet he still chose to blow me off. I honestly don't know what to make of that, except that maybe people need to step back and stop projecting what they want to see onto him and try to figure out who he actually is. I haven't, yet.
Second thought: 9/11 has become the new "Remember the Maine". Perhaps not coincidentally, the sinking of the Maine prefaced one of the most disgraceful periods in our nation's history: the Spanish-American War. So too did 9/11 preface one of our nation's most disgraceful periods: this whole goddamn war we have going right now. So here I sit on Guam, one of our spoils from the Spanish-American War, ready to deploy to Iraq, our major spoil from this war. Interesting times....