A political interlude

Despite the strange silence that has reigned over my blog in recent weeks, weeks of travel far and wide over this fine nation of ours, rest assured that I have been reading, watching, and thinking. In fact, I am currently in the midst of Martin Chuzzlewit, have just started the (so far strangely ungothic) Mysteries of Udolpho, and am staving off my Tar Heel withdrawal (A whole week between basketball games, since I missed the women's game on Tuesday. A Whole Week!! April will be a grim and haggard month) by reading The Last Dance, a book about the Final Four that a Dookie friend loaned me. His act of friendship is all the more profound given that 1) Duke made an uncharacteristically early exit from the NCAA Tournament this year and 2) the book uses as its case study the 2005 tournament, which UNC won.

The common ground of Chapel Hill (site of my beloved alma mater) brings me to a topic which has taken possession of me this afternoon (it is still late afternoon on the West coast), bringing to a halt all reading and watching, but not all thinking: the press conference that John and Elizabeth Edwards gave from Chapel Hill today, announcing that her conference has returned and is no longer curable.

The first part of the conference can be seen here (courtesy of the miracle of YouTube):

and the second part here:

I have to say I find this press conference astonishingly mature, honest, and loving. In what must be an extraordinarily difficult time for them as a family, they clearly explained to the voters, the press, and their donors how and why they came to their decision to stay in the race, and it is (to me at least) obviously more about their (specifically HER) conviction that their progressive platform is necessary for America at this very moment than it is about personal ambition. The most moving part of the whole event, for me, is when a reporter asks whether John had ever considered saying to Elizabeth "I know you want me to keep going, but I just will not/ cannot," and John Edwards replies that he would never mandate anything to her, nor she to him. (Do you "mandate to"? "For"? Aargh - my arch-nemesis, prepositions.)

I don't often talk about politics on my blog, largely because I find myself plentifully capable of offending people without even venturing outside the topics of art and literature rather than through a lack of interest or strong feeling on the subject. For some reason this was just so profoundly moving to me - both harrowing and uplifting, somehow - that I had to write something. I am quite a bit more sentimental, I must admit, about politics than many of my analytical friends would find comfortable. I think they have the vague fear that sentiment and politics inevitably combine to form something like fascism. I don't always agree with Edwards, but I have a longstanding affection for him, and think that he would make an excellent president. In fact, I think that Elizabeth would make an excellent president, but I am equally sure she would be a profoundly effective First Lady.

Part of the sentimental hold the couple has on me results from a primal democratic bond that is almost familial: the very first vote I ever cast, age 18, was for Edwards, when he himself was running his first campaign in North Carolina, against Lauch Faircloth for the state's junior Senate seat. To date this remains my most effective vote: Edwards won by a relatively small margin, and that election launched him on the national stage (much to the dismay of North Carolinians). In a field of Democratic possibilities that make me feel more hopeful that I have since that very first vote, the Edwardses have my support and best wishes, both politically and personally.