I sent a couple of contributions -- quite modest, actually -- to President Obama in response to his outreach for financial support. Then, to my dismay and genuine surprise, I received a card in the mail -- addressed personally to me -- that said, "Member of President Obama's Honorary Kitchen Cabinet." I held it in my hand, pondering what it meant.
Actually it probably meant exactly what it said. Since I had pledged a few bucks in actual support of the President's style and content, suddenly here was a really tangible response. Why not? It made me feel good or appreciated or real. I could hold it. I could see it. Did it mean I had to underwrite the entire White House agenda? Were my few bucks indispensable for the common good? Not at all. Yet, in a fast-moving, often phony world, I had made a statement about my belief system.
I basically supported this guy who was serving as U.S. president. It didn't mean I worshiped the ground he walked on. Or that I publicly said I supported him in a moment when I really didn't. I was saying, in so many words, that I believed in his integrity, felt he was trying to be honest, did support the direction he represented, was genuinely thankful for the personal sacrifice he was making in the act of service, and -- yes! -- exulted in the fact that he'd broken the bar and finally we had a person of color in the White House. Then he was elected to a second term. So it was apparent the vast and complex U.S. population had said, unequivocally and loudly, "Yes! Go for it."
It's not fair, in my opinion, that a segment of the U.S. population seems to equate him with Attila the Hun. Actually, he has better table manners, seems to possess an authentic humility, and God knows he gets up and works his butt off.
When I was a kid FDR was U.S. president. Moving into his fourth term, he was nearly as much a godlike figure as a president. When he died, I stood weeping on the street along with everybody else. Father was gone. Yet in the best U.S. tradition I had volunteered a summer -- when I needed to make money for my college education -- to work hard for his Republican opponent. Politics makes strange bedfellows. Always I have concentrated on the human being running for office rather than the slogans or party.
As a gay Episcopal priest I am comfortable with President Obama and grateful for his essential morality as the leader of all sorts of people. As a man who has just turned 90, I am thankful for his seeming ability to see individual people instead of stereotypes. As a religious leader, I welcome his understanding of morality as embracing equal opportunity over exclusivity, the rights of women as well as men, the end of the color bar, equal rights to work and health care.
I enjoy his family's role on the national scene. He has a couple of kids growing up. They seem to have a great mom. So let's live and be open to change, growth, newness, youthfulness. President Obama is obviously open to them.
So what does it really mean to be a Member of President Obama's Honorary Kitchen Cabinet? Somebody gives a damn and believe it or not, it's President Obama.
My response? Count me in.
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