Monday, August 18, 2008


I want to weep for my country when I read a Sally Quinn column in The Washington Post that begins this way:

When I was little, I had a recurrent dream that there was a terrible earthquake. My father, his body a horse with wings, swooped down from the sky, kneeled so I could jump on his back and flew away just as the earth cracked open beneath me. It was my most comforting dream. I want to live in that world again. I want to live in John McCain's world.

Even before Quinn tells us that her childhood fantasy life is exactly the same as John McCain's world, my thought is: why on earth would any adult even want to live in a world like this?

Quinn eventually says -- with a sigh -- that she knows the world isn't this kind of simple place. That's the obvious point. But Quinn's fantasy world isn't just simple -- it's a world in which big strong daddies take care of everything and all the little Sallies of the world don't have to do anything or accomplish anything or master any tasks or difficulties.

To me that sounds horrible.

I like being an adult. I like having abilities and using them. I don't want to fall for a soothing reassurance that everything's going to be all right because a big strong daddy is going to make all the problems go allgone -- I want to deal with my life and take care of business and then feel satisfied that I got some things done. I've always assumed that that's what adult life is all about. What the hell is wrong with Sally Quinn -- a 67-year-old woman -- that she still wants to be infantilized?

What worries me, in this election year, is that I don't know how many Sally Quinns there are in the country who just want John McCain to tuck them in -- especially when the Sally Quinns of the world are making his baby talk seem so appealing:

...I want to live in a world where Gen. David Petraeus and Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, are the wisest people I know, where offshore drilling will help ease our energy crisis, where a guy stays in a Vietnamese prison camp even when told he could get out, and has great stories to tell. I want to live in a world where I was absolutely certain that life begins at conception, where a man is a maverick and stands up against his Senate colleagues when he disagrees with them, where the only thing to do with evil is defeat it, where a guy will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell to capture him.

I want to believe that our biggest enemy is radical Islamist terrorists. I want to be part of a world that doesn't have to raise taxes; where America is a beacon, a shining city on a hill; where our values are simply Judeo-Christian values; and where a man always puts his country first....

The icky opposite is Obama's world:

Obama's world can be scarier. It's multicultural. It's realistic (yes, there is evil on the streets of this country as well as in other places, and a lot of evil has been perpetrated in the name of good). It's honest. When does life begin? Only the antiabortionists are clear on that. For the majority of Americans (who are pro-choice), it is "above my pay grade," in Obama's words, where there is no hard and fast line to draw on what's worth dying for, and where people of all faiths have to be respected.

I would rather live in McCain's world than Obama's. But I believe that we live in Obama's world.

But I don't believe she believes she has to live in Obama's world. She certainly can't bring herself to say anything genuinely critical of McCain's soothing daddy-talk -- if he wants to be president and the world he's describing is a fantasy, isn't that a bad thing? Not to Sally.

And, I fear, not to a lot of voters.

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