What Would Horace Greeley Or Jefferson Davis Say?

There is no way to express the feelings that went through me as I watched the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday evening.  I started watching political conventions in the summer of 1976 at the age of 14, and have found every one of them eventful and exciting in their own way.  But on Wednesday night it was more than just another nomination made by yet another group of delegates.  Instead it was history being made as the first African-American was selected to lead a national ticket into the fall campaign.   Naturally I am very proud that my party was the one to lead the way by placing Barack Obama on the ticket as the presidential candidate. 

But there is much more than mere politics to my joy.  All of my long held beliefs from the days in grade school about what this country stood for came flooding back to me as I watched the televised proceedings.  I found myself getting misty eyed in the living room as I watched and celebrated the huge step this nation has now taken.  The ideas as instilled by my teachers that anyone can grow up and become president is one that some find fanciful or too idealistic.  But the amazing story of Barack Obama’s journey makes me know that the ‘old-fashioned’ notions are indeed still applicable in this age.  That is not something to take lightly.  In an era where too many of my fellow citizens are jaded and apathetic about the political process, the placement of Obama on the national ticket is a testament to the political process working the way we were taught it could when we were school children.

For me the steps of progress for African Americans are far more than just a political event.  As mostly a self-taught student of history (and especially the Civil War), and a constant reader about the heroic men and women who blazed the path so Obama can be where he is today, makes me most aware that the small but brave actions taken every day has weight and consequence in the larger pages of history.  What has transpired this year across the nation is another chapter in that ongoing saga.

As I sat on the sofa Wednesday night I thought about the many larger than life characters in one of my favorite reads, “Freedom” by William Safire, a lengthy book about President Lincoln and the Civil War.  The paperback version in my office shows years of use, as the underbook is a tremendous resource.  From those pages, due to the writing style of Safire, the men and women of that era easily come to life.  Now in light of the newest entry into the pages of racial progress I thought what would Horace Greeley, the great newspaperman print as his banner headline the morning after Obama became the presidential candidate?  What might New York Senator William Seward, a vibrant voice against slavery say, and how ashen would Jefferson Davis’ face be when hearing the news?

Regardless of how we feel about either political party, or any particular policy that faces our nation, one thing is perfectly clear.  We are a great nation, and when we are true to the basic underpinnings of what we stand for, we grow and become stronger.  As Americans we all can be proud of the step we have taken in a most positive and forward direction.

Today we all can hold our head high.

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Why Didn’t NBC Tell The Life Story Of Australia’s Gold Winner Matthew Mitcham?

To be honest I did not watch any of the Summer Olympics.  Not one minute.  It was my way of not giving China any recognition for the destructive role they play in Sudan and other areas of international interest.  What I learned about the Olympics was from newspapers, and the one story that intrigued me was the lack of a biographical story on NBC about Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s star who snagged the gold medal in the Men’s 10 Platform Diving, and did so on his final dive by posting the highest score ever given to a single dive during Olympic competition.

Curious why Matthew’s award ceremony and story weren’t gripping enough to make the NBC telecast (the medal ceremony was shown on their website) AfterElton.com spoke with Greg Hughes a spokesman for NBC Sports.

While the issue has been addressed and debated by various blogs and writers, until we contacted NBC they were unaware of the controversy. “I’m not aware of any controversy,” said Hughes. “Yours is the first call.”

When asked why at no point during the coverage did NBC mention Mitcham was gay or that his partner was in the stands, Hughes said, “In virtually every case, we don’t discuss an athlete’s sexual orientation.”

When it was pointed out that in fact the network does exactly that by telling viewers about Olympic athletes’ various spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, and even in one case a heterosexual “love triangle” Hughes responded, “Not in every case. Not every athlete has a personal discussion. I could show you 500 athletes we didn’t show. We don’t show everyone. We don’t show every ceremony.”

But surely, taking into account Mticham’s stunning come-from-behind victory, the historical significance of his achievement as a gay man, and his own personal history, it seems unlikely the vast majority of those other athletes truly have as compelling a story as Mitcham. Said Hughes, “How do you know that? How do you know that someone on the rowing team doesn’t have as compelling a story?”

Well……I think his story might be of interest to the NBC audience…….

Burnt out and struggling with depression and anxiety, an up-and-coming Olympic hopeful drops out of his sport two years before the Beijing Games. His coach talks him into resuming training the year before the Olympics and he makes his country’s team which isn’t expected to fare terribly well against China’s powerhouse squad.

Indeed, the athlete performs poorly in his first event, failing to even make the semifinals. In his final event, however, and on his final attempt, he wins in an upset that not only denies China the gold medal, but by winning prevents a gold medal sweep by China in all eight of that sports events.

Now add to that the fact that the athlete also happens to have come out as gay less than six months earlier and is the only out gay male athlete at the games. As If that isn’t significant enough, his victory is easily the highest profile win ever by a gay man in an Olympic event. Both his mother and partner are in the stands to witness his triumph, something they almost didn’t get to do until a grant from Johnson & Johnson financed their trip to Beijing.

Finally, after receiving his gold medal, he climbs into the stands ala tennis’ Patrick Rafter to kiss and hug his partner.

One couldn’t write a better script. Surely, that is an Olympic story that must be told, right? Not according to NBC.

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John McCain Needs A Woman Vice-President

Though I have predicted Rob Portman will be the choice that John McCain makes as his running mate, I also feel strongly (and noted as such in that post) that what is needed to shake the general election up for the GOP is a woman on the ticket.  After watching the Democratic Convention last night I am more convinced than ever that is the best chance McCain has of winning.

When the themes of ‘the future versus the past’ come into play, as they did did last night at the convention, and the fact that McCain is from an older generation that often is hard pressed to connect with new ideas and forward movement of society, it becomes more obvious why McCain needs a woman to balance the ticket.  After Senator Hillary Clinton’s remarkable work at the podium to undo the damage of the past months leading up to Denver, it again struck me that there is no way McCain can win in this era of ‘ political change’ without going for a woman.

As I have written before I still suspect a safe pick for the GOP nominee.  That is, a stale white conservative male.

But I think the nation is calling for something bold and modern, akin to the Democratic ticket.

Then we would have a general election race!

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