Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A time to be serious

Consider our country, at this moment.

We are in two wars, one of them illegal. The national debt has mushroomed and our teetering economy may not have yet reached its nadir. Our reputation has been diminished around the globe. We torture the guilty and we torture the innocent. Still, we are not safe from terrorists. A great American city - a treasure, really - drowned three years ago and still sputters for life. Many of us have grown resentful of academia, if not intelligence. Some of us still wish to engage in culture war and identity politics. If nothing else, we are deeply divided.

These are serious times. And they demand a serious leader.

I can't - and won't - suggest whom you should vote for. And I'm certain that you will seriously think about the two choices that await you inside the booth today, assuming you didn't vote early like me or that you truly fancy Bob Barr or Alan Keyes.

One candidate tabbed a divisive, cartoonish, proudly ignorant unknown as his running mate. He relied on stunts rather than strategy when Wall Street collapsed. He missed a chance to separate himself from the sitting president - a "Maverick" moment, if you will - by choosing to back a pork-bloated, billions-dollar bailout. He mocked "women's health." He flailed about wildly for a narrative that would resonate. When that didn't work, he pursed his lips on that dog whistle. He allowed a divisive, cartoonish, proudly ignorant mascot to stump for him. At times, he has barely been able to contain his animus toward his opponent.

He was crazed in the face of calm. He was cranky in the face of hope. He was deeply unserious in the face of stoicism.

So I went with the other guy, who is serious without taking himself too seriously. I think our nation and the world demands that sort of leader at this moment.

And in a way, that's my closing argument. There's really nothing left to say or do - save call a few folks to make sure they hit the polls - until after the numbers roll in this evening. Until Wednesday morning, if I can help it, I'm going to pray hard and free my mind. I hope you can do the same.

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