Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chocolate or Vanilla?

There are moments in life when it seems that everything comes down to two choices: Elvis or the Beatles; the Sharks or the Jets; steam room or sauna; innie or outtie; tomato or tomahto; boxers or briefs; Israel or the Palestinians; Tylenol or Advil; Paris or London; dogs or cats; pro-life or pro-choice; creation or evolution; morning person or night person; Tom or Jerry; red wine or white wine; Hillel or Shammai; vanilla or chocolate; Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Such a moment is now, of course, with the people in my life divided neatly or messily into the Hillary or the Obama camps, with leakage into the McCain case Obama gets the nomination.

Such a situation exists in my household as well, with HOBB (Husband of Bungalow Babe) swept up in the cult of Obama while I stand staunchly behind Hillary, trying to communicate to my two voting age children my political preference without being overly heavyhanded about it.

Restrained though I may be on the homefront, except in arguments with HOBB where I defend myself against his assertion that the Jewish resistance to Obama is covert racism, every time I leave the house, the question hangs heavy in the air and I happily volunteer my opinion.

"What do you think of Obama?" asked my friend, a Hungarian poet and filmmaker I bumped into yesterday in the hallway of the Jewish Theological Seminary, prompting a discussion where we discovered that we share the same perspective. "Who you vote for?" the Korean manicurist asked last week as she painted my nails. "My parents are voting for Hillary Clinton. Who are your parents voting for?" I overheard Little Babe's seventh grade friend ask yesterday as they played Go in the living room.

If the election could be held in the locker room of The JCC in Manhattan, my preferred hangout, Hillary would sweep. Within the JCC locker room reside Hillary's staunchest supporters - tough and smart Jewish women from New York who are incensed by Obama's easy wrestling of the party's support away from hard-working Hill. As they see it, Obama is a Ken Doll with poseable limbs, a young, charismatic white guy who happens to have black skin, an exercise in smoke and mirrors, a rock star, a media creation, the Britney Spears (pre-breakdown) of politics, an undeserving and possibly dangerous choice for president.

And I think it is safe to say that among members of my parents' generation, it would be impossible to find even one person who thinks Obama is a good idea. A journalist friend and I exchanged emails recently comparing notes on our liberal parents' adamant opposition to the junior senator from Illinois.

Though I am not a fan of Elizabeth Wurtzel, the famously-troubled author of Prozac Nation and other books, a disgraced Ramaz alum seven years my junior who ruined her life publicly through drug addiction, random sex and plagiarism and who is now, inexplicably, a student at Yale Law School at the age of 40, I must heartily recommend her op-ed of last week in the Wall Street Journal, entitled Hillary Agonistes. Therein, she nailed the Obama mania sweeping the nation, deconstructing it in a rather brilliant manner. Her main thesis: the Hillary-Obama drama is the story of women and success in America. Smart woman works her butt off to succeed, plays by society's rules, defies society's rules, has it all, pays her dues, proves herself worthy and young upstart guy just waltzes in and steals the corner office out from under her.

Yep. That's exactly what is going on.

To mix media metaphors and to riff on the pundits: in the reality show that is the 2008 Presidential Race, Obama is our American Idol and Hillary's just been kicked off the island.

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