I really hoped against hope that the National Enquirer was pulling a Bat Boy on you. Even last night, as I watched The Birdcage and National Enquirer reporters trailed Gene Hackman’s senatorial character down to South Beach for a scandal, I thought of you and my stomach clenched up with fear. What if the tabloids were right? I took another bite of Black Diamond Cheddar to calm myself. No, I repeated. This politician who seemed like America’s son—the Bobby Kennedy of my generation—would not so scandalize himself or undermine his party.
And now, I discover, I’m the one who was wrong.
I’m a big girl, and I know that people aren’t perfect. Even Bobby had more than his fair share of fish in the sea. But in today’s cable news age—the Golden Era of Exaggerated and Reiterated News—wrong-footing like that spells career disasters, right? (See: Larry Craig.) But, look. That foot is neither here nor there, and the real issue is that I believed in you, your ideals and your policies, I stood up for you when Obamaniacs put you down as some big-time, overprivileged lawyer, and the whole time, you were lying to me, everybody else, and dare I say—yourself?
Do you remember the first time we met, John? It was 2005, I was only 20, it was a drizzly fall Sunday afternoon at Northwestern University, and you made a quick stop to talk with us College Democrats. After your speech, you spoke to a handful of us about what you’d been up to in the last year since the loss of the 2004 election. You were more than charismatic—your energy and enthusiasm enchanted me. You spoke of domestic issues like education and health care in such lyrical terms that you were more bard than politician. I was smitten, won over, and already invested in you, who I saw as a bright light in that dark time still shrouded in the residue of 9/11, an endless war, a lost election, and, most freshly, Katrina. When you and your aides left that day, I was spellbound and sung your praises to my friends. And so I did, until recently.
I’m only 23, so I’m young and that means a couple things.
First, I don’t know a whole ton about what it’s like to bear the burden of America’s troubles as you run for office and your wife struggles with cancer. I’m sure that must be hard. But I also know the simple truth that when you fight to represent a country you love, you want to practice the morals that you preach.
Second, I think I’m too young to become jaded by politics and politicians, but I’m beginning to feel like I’m well on my way. For a while, I too considered a life in politics, but after enough involvement in college politics to recognize it wasn’t for me, I left it up to people like you to do what’s right.
But finally, and thankfully, I haven’t given up yet. I am disappointed in you, I’m hugely disappointed in this election, and I’m infinitely disappointed (and flabbergasted) by a country that could elect Bush twice. Despite whatever mistakes you’ve made, I still want to believe in you, and I hope that whatever you have to say gives me a reason to believe and your actions from here on out give me justification in that belief.
Thanks for listening,