How are you feeling about Barack Obama these days? Are you ready to get revved back up?
The Democratic National Convention begins Monday in Denver, and Obama is scheduled to accept the official party nomination for president in front of 75,000 people at the city's football stadium. The event sounds so over-the-top I'm not sure if I'll be able to watch.
The whole nomination process has been exhausting. Isn't Obama president yet? What's the hold-up?
Obama's campaign has relied heavily on emotional connections and personal appeal, and it's almost impossible to sustain that kind of momentum. You just get tired after a while of being impressed and excited and optimistic.
And you get a little tired of building and rebuilding enthusiasm for all the firsts in this campaign: the first African-American candidate to be ahead in the party nominating process, the first African American to face off against a female candidate for the nomination, the first African American to formally be a major party nominee, the first African-American president and before you know it the first African-American ex-president.
We get it.
When does he take the oath of office?
At least Obama had the good sense to take a vacation a few weeks ago and get off of my TV and out of my face for a while. And that came on the heels of his grand tour of Europe, which I followed only briefly.
So I weaned myself off of Obama for much of the summer, and I'm feeling pretty good about it.
Sure, I've read some of the high-profile recent national magazine pieces, including Ryan Lizza's report on Obama's early Chicago political career in The New Yorker. (I hope you got beyond the controversial cover cartoon, because I learned a lot from the article.)
I leaped at the opportunity to run an essay from Tom Hayden on Obama, the man and the movement. Hayden, the 1960s activist famous for the Chicago 8, wisely warns progressives not to bestow sainthood on Obama and then stand back and wait for him to perform miracles (see "Dreams of Obama" here).
As Lizza, Hayden and others have pointed out, Obama is a politician, not a savior. He's made mistakes before, and he'll make mistakes as president. He won't fulfill everyone's dreams, but those shortcomings shouldn't be equated with failure.
This summer I've come around to a more subdued and realistic view of an Obama presidency. I'm over the goose bump moments and anxious to hear specific proposals and plans from Obama. I want to know the deliverables.
Having said all of that, I'm ready to vote for Obama. I was ready a long time ago. I'd do it tomorrow if I could.
Yet Hayden reminds us that the hard work actually begins after we elect President Obama, not now. That's something to get revved up about.
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