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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Barack Obama:another reason the world cares

I have to admit,  as a Democrat who started out not being swayed by Obama when he first campaigned,  I found myself experiencing a little glow of pleasure as I listened to the end of his press conference this week.  After being calm and dignified and respectful through discussions of the economy,   the President-elect was asked about the story that the family will be getting a dog.   Obama's face was crinkled in a smile as he said they took the  issue very seriously,  continuing to say that they'd like to get a shelter dog but "that a lot of shelter dogs are mutts, like me."    The fact that he could say that comfortably and with wry humor made me like him.    

Much discussion has focused on the ways in which the election of a black man to the  US Presidency changes views of America,  elevates the sense among American blacks that they can aspire to be anything,  and creates hope for a new vision of who we are.   I think, though, that we have also changed the way that people around the world view America too. Barack Obama is the first generation child of a Kenyan father.   The fact that he is going to be our new president says to any person out there that America is truly a place where the children of immigrants can reach the highest ranks.  It is a connection with the traditional dream of America as an open door to opportunity,  not just for those who are already Americans.   I think that this change gives us as a country an umatched chance to affirm that message to people around the world.   America has connections of blood and culture and intellect with you all;  you are all part of us.   There is, in that thought,  the opportunity to open doors and minds and to change the political landscape beyond our borders should we so choose.    

We are led today by a man who is not afraid or ashamed to say "I am a mutt" but to say it with a measure of pride.  I think this is a good thing, better than we yet know.

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