Tuesday, November 4, 2008
November 4, 2008
If I tried with all my might, I could not do better than today’s entry in The Writer’s Almanac. Here it is:
Today is Election Day. It’s the 56th presidential election of the United States, and today is the first time in more than 50 years that neither the sitting president nor the sitting vice president is a candidate on his party’s ticket in the new presidential election. It’s also the very first time in history that the two main candidates for president are both sitting senators. The last sitting senator to be elected U.S. president was JFK in 1960. [I almost inserted a comment here that this paragraph contained and error because in 1960 John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Richard Milhous Nixon were both sitting senators, but then my head cleared and I remembered that although Nixon had indeed been a senator from California, in 1960 he had been Eisenhower’s Vice-President for eight years. Carry on. I’ll be in the area all day. --RWP]
Many parties besides the Democrats and Republicans have nominated candidates for today’s election; these parties include Green, Libertarian, Constitution, Prohibition, Reform, Workers World Party, Boston Tea Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the Socialist Workers Party -- whose presidential candidate, if he were to win the election, would not be able to serve as president, because he was born in Nicaragua.
Both Barack Obama and John McCain are best-selling authors. John McCain was on book tour for his memoir Faith of My Fathers (1999) at the same time that he was on the campaign trail in the 2000 election.
McCain wrote in his second memoir, Worth the Fighting For (2002):
“I didn’t decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to become president.”
Barack Obama wrote his first memoir, Dreams of My Father, in 1995, after he became president of the Harvard Law Review but before he began his political career. His second book was The Audacity of Hope (2006). One journalist called it his “thesis submission” for the presidency, and it was the book, along with his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, that brought him to national attention.
“I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP.”
In Faith of My Fathers, John McCain wrote humorously about his poor performance at the Naval Academy, where he graduated fifth from the bottom of his class. He also wrote about his time in Vietnam, as a prisoner of war. He wrote:
“There are greater pursuits than self-seeking. Glory is not a conceit. It is not a prize for being the most clever, the strongest, or the boldest. Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself.”