J had a stash of Obama paraphernalia in his desk drawer. He’d open it up enough to give you glimpse, and try to tempt you.
“Window poster? Button? Button? Poster?”
K took a poster.
P demurred. He would vote, he said. But no button.
I, too, resisted, until one day at the tail end of the primary season I saw a news story about how people were still giving Clinton money. Because they were feminists. Because, evidently, sex is more important than anything, and anyone who doesn't think so is either a man or might as well be.
I gave Obama $50.
I let J take a button out of his drawer for me.
I pinned it on my backpack, where it stayed for a while. Then came the sad attempt to justify a self-serving decision on campaign finance for the general election, and it came off again. Then McCain going on about offshore drilling, and back on it went.
“Hey, Obama,” an old friend said when he saw it.
“Somebody was pushing it at work,” I explained. “I finally gave in and took one. Sometimes I just get too disgusted with him, and I take it off. But then I consider the alternative, and I put it back on again.”
A couple of days after this was the Berlin speech. My candidate stood before the vasty crowds telling them how they had fomented some Fascism and cooked up some Communism but Americans were still magnanimous enough to fly in food for them. A canny trick, getting Germans to cheer for American exceptionalism, but ew, I thought, icky. The button came off.
Then I read some parts of some of Obama’s exams from when he was teaching law, and o, I thought, how clever, and repinned it.
The other day, Obama found it behooved him, too, to sniff about under the oceans for oil and electoral support. But before I got around to using my backpack again, I picked up The Audacity of Hope, borrowed from J, and read a little while, and the projected unpinning and repinning canceled each other out.
There cannot be a healthy conscience in a presidential candidate. No decent person could choose to run for that office. But there is a mind there. For today, that is enough.