As I sat at my computer, mired in the unsavory articles about Sarah Palin and feeling the hangover of the negative Republican convention, I felt pulled down and vaguely depressed by this whole election. Babygate, troopergate, earmarks, an unqualified vice presidential candidate, the unrelenting criticism of Barack Obama last night by a group of people who fail to measure up in even the smallest way - all of it seemed a bit overwhelming. The pure nastiness that has become our national election process is demoralizing.
As if the universe in someway sensed my malaise, an email arrived from my sister-in-law, attaching a Boston Globe article from January, 2007, about Obama. The article is entitled "At Harvard Law, a unifying voice. Classmates recall Obama as an even-handed leader."
The title itself seemed a far cry from the miserable, petty stories of Wasilla and Palin, so I read on.
The first few paragraphs reminded me of why I have come to pin my hopes for the future on this election:
It was just a five-on-five game between some law students at a Harvard gym, until someone jabbed a hard foul. An argument broke out, and pretty soon players were in one another's faces.
To the players who were on the court that day, it seemed punches were about to be thrown.
Then a skinny, soft-spoken forward with tight shorts and high socks named Barack Obama raced out from the sideline and put himself between two of the warring players.
"He said, 'Guys, this is not serious--it's just a pick-up game,'" recalled one of the players, Earl Martin Phalen, Harvard Law Class of 1993. Laughing, he added: "There was all this testosterone exploding, and he just kind of had perspective...We ended up chilling it out."
Nothing about rifles, killing moose, aerial wolf hunting, having people fired. Just plain good judgment that his fellow students recognized even then. As we know, the Harvard Law Review went on to elect him president. He was one of 19 candidates for the job, chosen after a vetting process (I shudder to even mention those words) by 61 editors of the review who were not running for the job.
"You should not underestimate the significance of him being the first black president of the Harvard Law Review because that was and remains a very elite group," said Bell, now a law professor at New York University. "These are some tough folks...It's almost as impressive that he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review as him being elected senator of Illinois."
Barack Obama is "elite" and I can not and will not apologize for that word. It's the "choice part", the "best of a class". Elite not the 5th from the bottom of a graduating class. Elite is not a small-town mayor, elbowing her way around local politics. Elite is excellence in thought, character and deed, and that is what I want for my president.
Read the article. It will lighten up your day. Here's the link: