Monday, January 22, 2007


I admit that I’m feeling the need for a little Floyd-nostalgia tonight since my wife persuaded me to remove my allusions to “the Wall” from my new manuscript. I guess talking about Pink Floyd isn’t worthy of a serious book about the essence of Judaism and the challenge Islam presents to the non-Muslim world. Well fine. But I love Roger Waters and the boys just the same. And nobody would argue that Floyd isn’t worthy of reference in a blog. That’s the great thing about this democratic medium.

So here goes:

“Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.

What did you dream? It’s alright we told you what to dream.”

Any of you Floyd freaks know the next line in the second verse?

“You dreamed of a big star.” And indeed I did. I dreamed of a star so big that nobody would talk about whether he played a “mean guitar” or “learned to drive in a Jaguar.” I dreamed of a star who would remind people more of Martin Luther King than Spinal Tap. I dreamed of a star who would appeal to lovers of rock ‘n roll and classical music alike. I dreamed of a star who is known for his intelligence, charisma, looks, religiosity … luck … and bi-racial background. I dreamed of a star who could unite my country with his soaring rhetoric and sound logic and lead us to wage a war on poverty, crime, global warming, AIDS … or something anything. The key word there being “unite.”

That’s right. I dreamed that in November 2008, we would be electing a man who, according to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr., kicked off his campaign “with a sense that it was a national movement.” In other words, he’s appealing to people who like to dream. Romantic types. Idealists. Utopians. Writers. Artists. Those kinds of voters.

But … in the immortal words of Michael Buffer …”LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLETS GET READY TO RUMBLEEEEEEEE!” In the pink corner, wearing the business suit, with the cold, calculating expression on her face is the woman who “from the moment she announced her intentions on Saturday,” Dionne said, “commended a well-established, well-staffed and well-financed national organization.”

It’s on, boys and girls. With all due respect to Leonard-Duran, these ain’t no welterweights. And as great as Hagler-Hearns was – and it was great enough that I forced my then-fiancee, and now wife of 18 years, to watch the bout on tape – these ain’t no middleweights either. This, my friends, is the Main Event. Ali-Frazier. Dempsey-Tunney. Louis-Marciano.

I just hope that Hillary doesn’t become Marciano, and Obama, Louis. But I digress.

Right around the time that Hillary announced, I received my first fundraising call from “The Machine.” It was a woman – a 20-something, to the extent I could tell by the voice – calling on behalf of James Carville’s new organization. I engaged her for a couple of a minutes in a Socratic dialogue that was worthy of law school. Mostly I wanted her to know that I was from the “democratic wing of the Democratic party,” which is precisely why I wasn’t supporting Carville’s Machine, uh candidate. I trotted out the tired-old argument that Hillary wasn’t so electable, and the slightly less invoked argument that I had qualms with supporting a candidate who had recently tried to ban flag-burning. And, of course, I added that I REALLY liked Obama. But I have to say that when I hung up the phone, I reflected on just how massive an advantage The Machine would give our Hil. If this were the GOP, I would say that her degree of Machine support would be dispositive. It’s less important on the donkey side, but it still shouldn’t be underestimated.

If I were a Hil supporter, maybe I’d say something here about relishing the battle – some kind of toned down version of “Bring it on.” I know – I’d echo my candidate’s own words when she said “I’m in. And I’m in to win!” But I’m not a Hil supporter. I’m a supporter of Obama. I suspect my guy is less “in to win” than he is “In to unite. In to inspire. In to nurture.” Or maybe just “In to humbly lending a helping hand.”

In that spirit, let me say that I’m thankful that we have not one heavyweight, but two. Move over John Edwards – go back to announcing Tic-Tac-Dough, or whatever it is you do to hone that smile of yours. Move over Chris Dodd – I love you, but get out of here, you knucklehead, I mean it. Move over Bill Richardson (What kind of Hispanic name is “Richardson,” anyway? I mean admittedly, I’m one to talk, having a name like Spiro and not being Greek, but it’s not like all anyone ever says about me is “He’s a Jew.”). Move over Tom Vilsack (and I apologize if I already bumped into you and didn’t even know it.)

We now have two brilliant, SUPER competent politicians going head to head. And better yet, they bring conflicting styles. Americans cannot help but benefit from the fight and/or dialogue.

Remember, I may think Hillary Clinton isn’t fit to be President, but I think she’s a heck of a Senator and a valuable asset to the American political scene. As for Obama, I’m buyin’ the hype. I’m dreamin’ the dream. In my pantheon, you have Barack. Martin. Mick. Ludwig. Rembrandt. (Hey, what can I say? That was the artist’s first name.) Thomas. Abraham. And Baruch – or, if you prefer, “Benedict de.”

Please don’t tell me you don’t know who I’m talking about. OK – I could have meant Martin Luther King or Martin Buber. And I could have meant either Lincoln or the first of the Patriarchs. But the other ones should be obvious. If they’re not, you need to read more literature, listen to more music … and STOP taking calls from The Machine.

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