Christmas came early last week for progressives across the nation. As I watched the press conference where President-Elect Barack Obama officially announced his security team, I was giddy to count the number of women that he'd chosen (1-2-3) and the first African American to head the Justice Department -- as if they were long-awaited gifts under the tree.
But like that kid on Christmas, I found that getting a few gifts only made me want more. Especially when I heard Obama say the following during the press grilling that followed:
Last July I sat across the picnic table from my cousin Lang, sipping iced tea and watching the Colorado sun set over the mountains as we talked about what veterans face upon coming home. Lang, 27, served in the Marines from 1999 to 2003 and had two tours of duty in Iraq, as well as a stint protecting the U.S.S. Cole. He is remarkably reflective, a man with soft eyes and a tenacious curiosity about the world. Among other things he said that evening, one sentence has echoed in my head: "The ones who really survive the transition home are those who are able to compartmentalize their lives into before and after."
Let's just clear the air. There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about electoral politics. Especially if you, like me, have only voted in two presidential elections that were both highly contested, dragged out affairs involving hanging chads, smug Bushes, and a cowardly Congress.
With at least 8 percent of American voters still undecided and less than a month left in the most watched, worried, and wild-card election cycle in decades, it's apropos to consider which TV outlets might have the power to push those coveted "uncommitted voters" to one side or the other.
Campaign ads? Perhaps. The economy is in shambles and the candidates disagree sharply on everything from national security to health care, so they're well-served to discuss the issues. But their position papers have been available online and their talking points unchanged for months, and that 8 percent of voters remains undecided.
Last week, as Wall Street's biggest institutions dissolved, John McCain and Barack Obama seized the opportunity to appeal to the most coveted and elusive cohort of voters: the middle class. "Now more than ever we've got to have the kind of broad-based middle-class tax cut that I talked about for 95 percent of working families," Obama said.
McCain, who just a week ago said the economy was fundamentally sound, changed his tune, commenting: "Most Americans feel very strongly this isn't their fault. It's Wall Street and Washington and the cozy insider relationships that have caused a great part of the problems."