crashing the gate.

by Brian Clarey

My wife and I watched Sen. Barack Obama’s historic acceptance speech at home Thursday night, two of the 38 million or so souls who felt drawn to the Illinois senator for one reason or another.

I was alone when I watched his wife, Michelle Obama, do her thing for the Democratic Party on Tuesday, and I was singularly impressed by her poise and manner, and the fact that she didn’t seem to be speechifying so much as simply speaking. But I wasn’t alone in being touched by this young family, and for reasons I cannot easily discern, I was proud of them. And for the record, I think Michelle Obama is hot, but that Cindy McCain is hotter — I like blondes. It is, of course, my job to stay abreast of the presidential election. My wife, who became politicized after the 2000 election of George W. Bush and the events of 9-11, has been largely free to ignore this two year campaign cycle until recently, when the Democratic primaries were winding down. Obama’s acceptance speech was the first time she saw him speak, there on the end of the catwalk saying “Thank you” over and over again in front of 80,000 screaming people, with chants of “Yes, we can!” resounding throughout the stadium. “People are going to make fun of that,” she said. “Just watch him,” I said. “He’s really good at this.” And watch she did, rapt from the moment the crowd settled and he got down to business. While he spoke, I was watching her. “Four years ago, I stood before you and told you mystory,” he said, and my wife settled in. As he spoke, her hands creptup to her face; by the time he said, “America, we are better than theselast eight years. We are a better country than this,” she was holdingher cheeks.

“Tonight,” he said, “tonight, I say to the people of America, to Democrats and Republicans and independents across this great land: Enough!” My bride looked over at me. There were tears in her eyes. “I’ve never heard a politician speak like that,” she said to me. “Most of them don’t,” I say. Obama’s oratorical superiority notwithstanding, to me this election seems to be all about the ladies.

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s historic run was, of course, a victory for all American women and a testament to her tenacity and commitment — she’s a bulldog, that one, and I would hire her as my lawyer in a hot minute.

Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain have their roles as well — one the accomplished bootstrapper and the other a dignified heiress.

On the periphery there’s the wife and paramour of John Edwards, though in my mind this amounts to little more than sub-plot.

And now there’s this firebrand from Alaska — Alaska! — looking to pull the old bait-and-switch and become the first woman to occupy the White House in a professional capacity. Gov. Sarah Palin is not without some baggage — inexperience, isolation, accusations of abuses of power and a pregnant, unwed teenage daughter seem to be the biggies right now — but I should say in the interest of fairness that she’s a pretty hot little number, as well, though she’s no Cindy McCain.

My wife, also a woman and hotter than the lot of them, figures large in this election as well — or at least people like her do. She’s no soccer mom, but she maintains a household with three young children and a husband with a propensity for slovenliness; she runs her own business; she does not suffer fools gladly; and she doesn’t like it when someone — a mechanic or a salesperson or a billing agent — tries to pull the fast shuffle. And she’s not going to vote for someone just because she’s a chick. But she will vote for someone who touches her heart. The following morning, after we bundled the kids off to school and worked on our first cups of coffee, we watched Son. John McCain grimace his way through his announcement and his running partner’s acceptance speech. “Who the hell is she?” my wife wanted to know. I could not adequately answer. “Look at him,” my wife said to me. “He’s unsure of himself. See how he keeps looking at the crowd, trying to see their reaction. He can’t stand still.” She was right: The Maverick and CEO of the Straight Talk Express looked like he was wearing a hair suit under his Republican blues, even when a cadre of the crew cutted Republican goon squad began their chant of “USA, USA.” My wife began her investigation of the candidate right then and there, cruising Google like a pro. “Hmmm,” she said from her computer screen as she clicked through the news wires. It is not a good thing when she makes that noise.

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