And this time, I’ll try to remember to make sure it posts on the blog before Monday.
This piece will have several things in common with the "Barack Like Me" column:
- It will be just as long (sorry, but it took a good bit of trimming even to get them down to that length).
- It will be based on a number of things that cause me to feel a personal connection to the candidate and as a result enable me to say some things I hope you will find at least somewhat original.
- It will be written right after reading an autobiography about the candidate, although much of it will be based in experiences I had long ago.
Beyond that, I’m afraid I don’t think this column is quite as good as the first one. With McCain, the "like me" thing breaks down at a certain point, which is ironic because of the greater superficial similarities in our backgrounds. But while we’re both Navy brats, that’s all I was — a dependent. I never served, much less serving heroically, and that creates a crimp in the whole identification thing.
But I think it still rises above my usual columns in what it offers. I was just very satisfied with the way I was able to tie a lot of disparate observations within a single defensible theme in the Obama piece; and that didn’t work quite as well with this one. Maybe it’s just that I’m really tired (after reading late into the night the last two weeks) and struggled with the writing this time. Or maybe it’s just as I will say in the column: the thesis broke down.
By the way, I’ve gotten a lot of kind comments about the "Barack" piece — and some not so kind. But they all had something in common — all (or most, now that I think back) seemed to assume I was choosing sides in the election, and meant to laud Obama accordingly. That misses the point. So I sent variations on this message to several people who wrote to me about it in the past week:
Thank you so much; you’re very kind.
On Sunday, please watch for my companion piece about McCain.
A caveat: Neither of these columns should be seen as an endorsement, or even an attempt to assess the suitability of either man for the presidency. If you go back and read more closely, you’ll see they don’t even get into that.
What I was trying to do is just raise some thoughts that you might not have seen elsewhere about the formative experiences of both men.
I just say all that because some seemed to take my Obama piece as pro-Obama (some were happy about that; some angry), but that’s not what it was meant to be. The potential exists for some readers to assume the same about the upcoming McCain piece.
We WILL be endorsing, but haven’t yet made the decision whether it will be McCain or Obama. We’ll be deciding that next week.
What you need to remember as you read is that I like BOTH of these guys a lot; our endorsements of them in January were quite enthusiastic. The general election endorsement will be made all the tougher because of that. I know some of you think you know how we’re going to endorse, and you have a 50-50 chance of being right. But you’re wrong if you think the decision is already made. And as the days have gone by, the decision has loomed tougher and tougher. I’m dreading the discussion next week, and still trying to decide how to lead it. I will really be missing Mike Fitts, because as I described in this column and this one, he did a masterful job of helping walk us through these decisions.