Last week I was taking my fourteen-year-old daughter to a sleep over after swim practice, and we were caught in traffic. It was bumper-to-bumper, no let up, the kind of traffic snarl that can make you curse. Apropos of nothing, K turns to me and says something like: “Mitt Romney is a very wealthy man and that’s not going to play well with the middle class.”
And then she did that thing where she looks at me casually, but I’m pretty sure she’s searching my face for a reaction. It’s a crucial moment for any parent: who doesn’t want to give their child tall he things they want, and especially the things they really need; but there is so much out there that is unaffordable to me, or beyond my reach for a variety of reasons. Me helping out with her geometry homework, for example. But these moments when she seems to need a specific reaction from me seem within my reach.
My first impulse was to giggle or snort–these are the words of a pundit, after all–but I was so upset by the traffic jam that I easily managed to beat that impulse back.
“Good point,” I said.
I’m so glad I did. I can remember being ten or eleven and wanting nothing more than to be able to understand politics. It was the middle of the Vietnam War, Watergate was in full bloom, and every day the television news seemed to offer some fascinating new story about how the world worked. Or, more often, how it didn’t work. I felt terrified to step into that world, let alone articulate an opinion.
K and I had the best discussion.
I pointed out that she’d be old enough to vote in the next presidental election. We discussed potential candidates, which means we bandied about a certian ex First Lady’s name. We both agreed that if the country was ready to accept a black president, perhaps it would soon be time for a woman president.
K wanted answers to questions like these:
“Was Bill Clinton a good president?”
“What is impeached?”
And then we discussed Hillary’s qualifications:
She was a first lady; she’s Secratary of State.
Had the hutzpuh to get through her husband’s scandal without
shooting leaving him.
“I think she’d make a good president,” K offered.
I can’t say that I disagree.
But at this early stage, I must say that I’m way more impressed by the makings of the fine citizen before me.