Last week was an historic week for politics. Obama’s nomination and speech on the anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech was something I wish my parents, especially my father, were here to witness. My dad, Bernie, was a Harvard Law School graduate. Like Obama he was offered jobs at silk stocking law firms on Wall Street, but chose to come to Detroit and establish the second interracial law firm in Michigan.
My dad was a civil rights lawyer who went south as part of the Lawyers Guild during the most dangerous days of the Civil Rights Movement to represent the Freedom Riders who were being persecuted and prosecuted. I was just a boy when he would call home. I could hear the fear in my mother’s voice when she talked with him. Now I hear hope in the voice of an African-American (so much like my father) as he spoke to America – not as an African-American, but as an American.
When I was young, segregation was still the law in the South. In the last eight years moral evil is once again creeping into politics and into the law. I practice in the State of Michigan where a right-wing gang of four on the Supreme Court is intent on destroying the rights of all victims. Barack Obama now emerges as a symbol of hope that maybe, just maybe, we can right the ship.
There was another voice heard last week as well – the voice of cynical politics. I just want to hear Sarah Palin’s justification for being on a ticket with a man who opposes equal pay for equal work by women. Let’s not kid ourselves, Palin is there to capture the James Dobson’s of the party, you know—the hate mongers… the guys who condemn black teenage pregnancies.
Maybe it’s just me but, couldn’t you hear the voice of Slim Pickens as Palin kept mispronouncing the word “nuclear”. She kept pronouncing it as a “noo-ku-lar” proliferation. If Pickens was introducing Paulin as the VP choice, he might say:
“ Awwww, shoooot. Looky here boys. This little lady is always packin’ and as part-time mayor of Wasilla, Alaska she stood toe-to-toe with those gol-derned Roooskies and never lost an inch of American soil – and you know Russia is on the border of Czechoslovakia. So next time that ole wildcat Putin goes a’stompin’ and a’bombin’ those good ole boys down in Georgia you can bet yer bottom dollar I’ll be sendin’ her down South to kick some commie behind.”
There is a difference between historic achievement and historic cynicism. We should all judge McCain’s judgment and wisdom with his pick of Palin. Still, as I am fond of pointing out to my young lawyers, in the words of Paul Simon, “people hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.”