President Obama in my kitchen.


Was a time, I decorated walls with the faces of people I didn’t know: Donny Osmond, James Taylor, probably U2 at some point, although I was an adult by then, even if a young one, and adults don’t generally mount posters of Famous People around their homes.

Which is likely why I hesitated to put up that poster of President Obama.

It arrived in the mail one day, unbidden, no doubt because I’ve tossed the campaign a few shekels now and then. It’s about 11 x 17 inches or so; across the top it reads CHANGE IS, then there’s an artsy head shot of the President, and then a list:


I opened it up, unfolded it, looked at it for awhile. Walked around the house with it. Then I pulled out the tape and hung it in my kitchen.

Now, whenever I walk past the President’s face, I imagine I feel a bit like a Catholic in the 1960s, those folks who hung a picture of President Kennedy next to the Pope. Because this President? He’s one of my own. I like having him in the heart of my family’s home.

And that’s the thing, really. For the first time in my life — a life lived across two continents and two political systems — the person leading my country and representing it to the world is one of my own.

I’m not black, or bi-racial. I’m not from Hawaii. I’ve never been to Indonesia. My grandparents don’t hail from Kansas or Kenya. I did attend the University of Chicago (while Mr. Obama was teaching there, no less), but not Harvard. I’m not a lawyer. And possibly more to the point — I do disagree with this President now and then. I’ve even yelled at the radio a time or two.

And yet, he’s one of my own. His respect for intelligent inquiry, for individuals and peoples, for gentle humor and not backing down; the willingness he’s shown to take bold action and also to admit error; and his constant, consistent refusal to get involved in the mind games that literally millions of people are trying to play with him — these all reflect a manner that I not only want to see in my President, but am hoping to teach my children. Barack Obama represents what I want my country to be.

We don’t always have to agree to be on the same page; I don’t have to be in someone’s thrall to be glad he’s in my life. In my home. On my kitchen wall.

It makes me proud to see the President there. It makes me think that all these things that I’ve believed in my whole life — things like equal pay for equal work, and protecting our environment, and granting human dignity across the board — have a real chance out there in the world. Like maybe Americans really can perfect the union.

I imagine that I’ll continue to disagree with President Obama from time to time, and maybe yell at the radio another time or two. I figure he can take it — he is in politics, after all.

But I also imagine that come November, after I’ve volunteered for another Obama campaign and he’s been re-elected (please God and Get Out The Vote!), I will once again turn all weepy. Because human fallibility aside, I am prouder than I can say to have him in the Oval Office.

I never thought one of my own would make it.



  1. JHarper2

     /  April 26, 2012

    Not being an a__hole is a low bar that would have satisfied many. And it would have been an improvement on many recent officeholders in many countries, states, and provinces.
    The fact that Mr Obama is not content to not be a jerk but aims and achieves higher is what makes so many proud of him. Of course they also wish he would aim higher or at more targets, but we get to yell at our own.
    I can accept that he is a centrist and slightly to the conservative side of that, but he never promised to be another than that. He seems a decent man with a sense of humour about himself, and a sense of humour that is not cruel to others. He is not afraid to be intelligent in public and believes in education and ambition.
    He is not a flaming liberal, but the only ones who said he was were those who also lied about every thing else he was, every thing he said, and every thing he did or accomplished or tried to do.
    This ended up longer and more serious than when I started to write it. Call it the Obama effect. He has heft, and must to taken seriously. As corkingiron and my BC uncle says, he’s skookum.

    And in common with Emily, he has a Seder in his house every year. He is one of you, and one of us.

    • All of that lovely comment, and here’s what I’m going to say:

      What’s a skookum?

      • JHarper2

         /  April 26, 2012

        Because the Wikipedia people put it better than me.

        When used in reference to another person, e.g. “he’s skookum”, it’s used in respect with connotations of trustworthiness, reliability and honesty as well as (possibly but not necessarily) strength and size.

  2. Sorn

     /  April 27, 2012

    Thanks for this em. I feel much like you do about Obama, but for a different reason. He was the first presidential candidate that I remember, in my short lifetime, who went to Crow Agency. He gets my vote every time, even though his picture isn’t on my wall. I live by a very simple credo sometimes, and loyalty to those who make an effort is a big part of it.

  3. I yelled at the TV myself durimg his first State of the Union Address. The point where he excoriated the Supreme Court over the Citizens United ruling.

    Everybody who hasn’t read that ruling misses my point.

    John McCain (everyone remembers, he’s the Arizona senator Barack defeated), had authored a bill, that made it a crime to criticize a politician without a license, within 60 days of an election.

    There were only two ways to get a McCain license.

    One was to be the opposing candidate in the election.

    The other was to own a profitable newspaper.

    The Supreme Court upheld the argument of an amicus curia, “”, who argued that every American has freedom of the press. That the maps and lists people had printed for the Underground Railroad, and gave away free of charge to penniless slaves fleeing the South for Canada and their freedom, were just as much protected by the First Amendment, as the pages of The Washington Post.

    On that basis, the Court struck down Mr McCain’s Act.

    And all Mr Obama could think about, was that the 60-day moratorium would have made campaigns cheaper to run.

    Obama was wrong.

    But I’m very thankful we don’t have John McCain as our President.

    I’d be afraid that he’d make an Executive Order that prohibited yelling at the television.

    • varesya

       /  April 28, 2012

      I’ll definitely echo the sentiment of being thankful that Obama, rather than McCain, is president – despite the fact that I voted for him in 2000. That was a different McCain – and more importantly, a much younger and far less wiser me.

      I’m not sure I can agree on the sentiment that the law was bad though – it was also a law sponsored by former Senator Russ Feingold, I should not, but more importantly – it gets back to the notion that the Supreme Court, and indeed many Americans have taken, that Money is Speech. Money is not Speech. Money is a means to amplify Speech, but.

      It is not Speech.

      Every citizen, every American, has a voice. They have a right to Speech, equal to all other Americans.

      Money is not equal. I do not have the money that Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess, Rupert Murdoch, Charles Koch, or for that matter George Soros, have. I cannot buy ads to bring my views to millions of voters. Feingold and McCain’s law sought to correct that imbalance. It may have been flawed, but it was well-intended, at the very least.

  4. isaacplautus

     /  April 27, 2012

    This articulates so well what so many of us feel. I still think the best thing about Obama is that he is the adult in the room while our country remains embroiled in the toxicity of the culture wars.

  5. dmf

     /  April 27, 2012

    for fridays and folks like citE, ee, and sorn who are starting new ventures to carry the good work forward:

    Many things in the world have
    already happened. You can
    go back and tell about them.
    They are part of what we
    own as we speed along
    through the white sky.

    But many things in the world
    haven’t yet happened. You help
    them by thinking and writing and acting.
    Where they begin, you greet them
    or stop them. You come along
    and sustain the new things.

    Once, in the white sky there was
    a beginning, and I happened to notice
    and almost glimpsed what to do.
    But now I have come far
    to here, and it is away back there.
    Some days, I think about it.

    “In the White Sky” by William Stafford