LOOKING BACK ON MY FIRST POST: WITHOUT BENEFIT OF CLERGY:

In a different context, WordPress asked us to share our first post. Well, actually, this isn’t my first post, but it’s the closest thing to the first I’ve retained in archives. Though I started blogging in February 2012, I didn’t really get into it until May. This was published May 22, 2012. It’s too long and rambling, but I’ll let it stand, minus a few typos.

Note that I’m away through tomorrow, so if I don’t answer comments, it’s because I did not bring my computer.


I was Jewish when I married Garry in a Lutheran Church. I said then … and I say now …  any God I might be willing to worship would not care what ritual was used or in what language we spoke our vows. I really believe everyone has the right to live life as they want, to have or not have children. Spend whatever day you consider the Sabbath doing whatever you want.

Travel your path and be glad.

All prayers are good prayers. Goodness is goodness, whether you believe in God or not. Faith is a choice, decency is a requirement. You don’t need a church to know the difference between right and wrong. Some of the worst people I’ve known were ardent church goers and some of the best were skeptics or atheists. I’ll bet that God knows who is who and is not fooled by how often you attend church.

Garry and I were married in his church on Long Island because he had a strong emotional attachment to it. I didn’t have any particular attachment to any religious institution, though still have an attachment to Judaism as a philosophy and as a moral compass. And as an ethnic identity: Yiddishkeit, as it were.

When we renewed our vows the first time, it was in front of a notary, but the next renewal was under the sky in our backyard by a minister of the Christian Reform Church. Maybe we’ll do it again and who knows who will officiate? We intended to renew our vows again for our 20th anniversary, but I was sick that year and I had other things on my mind. Hopefully, we’ll both be available for 25th. That seems like a good number for another renewal.

Marriage is a contract between two adults. It doesn’t require benefit of clergy. Any religion is okay and no religion is okay too. Unless you live in a theocracy and thankfully we do not … yet …you don’t need to believe in anything but your partner to get married.  I hate the theocratic trend this country is taking. I’m baffled as to how God and religion are suddenly the arbiters of what constitutes a family.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness …”

declaration_independence

The bit about pursuing happiness seems to have been lost along the way. Pity because it’s not less important than the rest. It may be the most important. What good is life and liberty if you can’t be happy? Gay, straight, old, young … we deserve the right to marry who we choose and be happy.

If we start defining the meaning of marriage, if we declare that marriage is sacred and exists entirely  for the creation of children, what about people who don’t want children? Are they the next group not allowed to marry? How about people who are too old to make babies? Can they marry? For too many years in a lot of states, people of different races were forbidden to marry … was that okay? They said that it was God’s decree too. Funny how it’s always God’s plan … no individual ever seems to be responsible.

You can interpret “God’s teaching” however you like, but if it’s so clear what God wants, why all the religious debate — not to mention wars — for thousands of years?

Gay, straight, or not entirely clear on the issue, marry if you want to. Or not. Be happy.

I have no opinion on an afterlife. I don’t know.  Neither do you. You can believe what you like but you don’t know anything because God doesn’t talk to you. Or me. Make this life a good one. It’s the only one you know for certain you’ve got.

Carpe diem, my friends. Carpe with both hands and don’t let go until you’ve squeezed that last bit of joy from your world!

WHO SHALL THEY CROWN? REDUX.

A King Brothers Dilemma, by Rich Paschall


The meeting of the secret Political Action Committee formed by the King Brothers was about to conclude and no one was happy.  Two years earlier they had planned to capture the Congress and then the Presidency.  As luck would have it, they also saw the possibility of controlling the Supreme Court as well.

“Just imagine it,” Chauncey King said to his brother before the meeting, “we could control all three branches of government.  If that old guy did not drop dead at our resort last month, he would have given us what we needed.”  They still hoped to delay the next justice until they could actually influence the appointment.

While the Political committee had done a great job in the off-year election, their negative messages were beginning to backfire.  They had been telling the public for years that Washington D.C. was a problem and the President’s party had to go. Why should it be a surprise when people began to hate the workings of capitol politicians, including many of their special, pet congressmen.

Worse yet, the few they felt they could support for President were well behind in the polls and dropping out one by one.  A rogue candidate, not of the regular party, was leading in the caucuses and primaries by using the very negative rhetoric the King Brothers had been trying to perfect.

Over the past years, as the economy improved, the King Brothers dispatched their favorite politicians and “news reporters” to claim that things were still bad.  When gas prices went down, they blamed the President for lack of oil exploration.  When the stock market improved, they claimed the business climate was bad.  There was no positive story that they could not spin in a negative fashion.  As the country got better, they convinced people through campaigns and political “reporting” that things were worse than ever.

Now an outsider was taking over the party, contrary to their original scheme.  It did not seem the King Brothers and their billionaire friends could buy him off.  They also could not find a candidate strong enough to overtake the front-runner.  This meant the good old boys at the meeting could not be convinced to get behind just one candidate.  They had a LOT of money to spend on the campaign, just where should they spend it?  No candidate delighted a majority of the committee.

CC License

Wilford Washington Hotel

Rather than invite everyone back to a penthouse party as originally planned, the King Brothers said good night and headed  to their suite at the elegant Wilford Washington Hotel.  Others headed to their rooms or left for other accommodations in the nation’s capitol.  They were all in the top one per cent and could stay at the finest places.

Cal Rhodes, architect of the Congressional strategy just two years earlier, was pacing the penthouse floor when the King Brothers arrived.  The brothers could tell by his demeanor that Cal was not pleased.  They had seen this look after debates and primaries, so they knew things were not well.

When the campaign for President started, the boys felt they could manipulate a young Senator into place.  He was handsome and made a good first impression on people.  With some well placed ads, they thought he could charm his way to the top.  However, he could not stand up to the bombast of the front-runner and a few others and was forced to drop out when he got crushed in the primary of his home state.  Other candidates the brothers felt they wanted also dropped out, and they certainly did not like what was left at the top of the Leader Board.

The Final Rally

The Final Rally

“We might as well drink the Pierre Jouet,” Chauncey said of the wine that had been perfectly chilled while the meeting was taking place.  Derrick agreed and a servant, standing at the ready by the wine bucket, brought over two glasses.

“You should give Rhodes one too,” Derrick instructed.  “It looks like he needs it.”

Since the frontrunner of their party was not to their liking, Rhodes had developed a new strategy and the boys approved.  They dispatched the previous party candidate, as well as some well-chosen spokesmen, to go forth and try to prevent the leader from gaining enough delegates to win the nomination.

“A brokered convention will suit us well,” Derrick stated.  “We could even bring back one of the guys who has previously dropped out. We just need someone to sway opinion.  Truth doesn’t matter, you know, just victory.”  With that, they toasted and ordered another glass of the expensive French wine.

When Rhodes returned to the room after watching the latest speech of the front-runner and reading his tweets and social media proclamations, he stopped for more of the precious liquid from France.  He needed a large gulp before reporting the latest.

“So,” Chauncey started, “how does Mr. Bombast like our latest strategy?  Perhaps he sees we can deny him a first ballot victory at the convention.”

Rhodes looked rather pale and did not exactly know where to start.  “Well, it does not seem to bother him at all.  In fact, he told his supporters tonight that if he does not get a first ballot victory at the convention, he expects civil unrest not only outside the convention hall, but inside as well.”

Derrick set his drink down and stared at his brother for a long moment.  Their well crafted plan had blown away like a sand castle in a wind storm.  Finally he said, “Well Dr. Frankenstein, now what?”

Related: DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES

The Elephant in the Room, by Rich Paschall


Let’s talk about it, shall we?  I am referring to the elephant.  No, not a Ringling Brothers elephant.  That matter has been resolved to almost everyone’s satisfaction.  I say “almost” because there are some who object to the choice of land where the elephants may roam free, but that is another issue for another time.

Photo Credit: Charles W. Cushman Collection

Photo Credit: Charles W. Cushman Collection

The elephant in the room belongs to the Republicans.  You know them as the Grand Old Party, but nothing seems too grand these days.  They have splintered into pieces and the one left standing, the presumptive nominee for President of the United States of America (POTUS for you social media guys), is not one of the regular Republican politicians at all.  The Donald has ridden the anti government wave all the way to the top.  It is a wave that was ironically created by the regular Republicans and their supporters.  They now find themselves asking, “How did this happen?”  It certainly was not the game plan.

While both sides of the aisle sit and contemplate how such a man, regarded by some as a bigot and misogynist, could have stolen the lead of a major political party, the real surprise is not just that this person has a following and is running for office.  The wonder is that there are so many supporters.  Republican strategists have been trying to craft a plan that would stop their own leading candidate from gaining the presidential nomination.   While stopping the New York billionaire seems to be on Republican and Democratic minds, the problems of the major parties are just a symptom of what ails us.

Elephant in the room

Elephant in the room

Andy Borowitz, satirist, commentator and best-selling New York Times author puts it like this, “Stopping Trump is a short-term solution. The long-term solution, and it will be more difficult, is fixing the educational system that has created so many people ignorant enough to vote for Trump.”  You may have seen this quote being spread around social media like wildfire under a hot sun.  This quote is one of the ones that are true, however.  As for your other memes…

If there is one thing this campaign has proven, it is that there are a lot of stupid people.  Social media have allowed many folks to demonstrate just how stupid they are.  Since they are stupid to begin with, they do not realize how much stupidity they are demonstrating.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and (yikes!) even Word Press have given the ability to many to spread stupid all over the internet, and thus, all over the world.

There have been many times that I have tried to stop stupid in its tracks.  When I see obviously incorrect statements on facebook I like to post a Snopes rebuttal or article from a reputable news source to refute the incorrect statement, but stupid will have none of it.  People go on commenting as if the truth is unavailable and this internet mythology must certainly be true.  In this regard, I am like a pebble on the beach being stomped on by flip-flops, Crocs and other ignoble beachwear.

While US News and World Report reported the higher education system as third best in the world, elementary and secondary schools did not fare so well by others.  In the 2012 Program For International Student Assessment, among 15 year olds Americans ranked 35th in the world in math and 27th in science.  In 2015 the Pew Research Center reported “29% of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM) as above average or the best in the world.”  That’s rather low.  American scientists gave education a lower mark.

While major American school systems are broke, politicians talk about tax breaks for the rich and “trickle down” style economics.  Teachers in Detroit work for a school system that can not afford to educate children and teachers wonder how long they will get paid.  If you think Detroit is unique, you better have a look around.  Chicago is barely surviving while school districts in richer communities in Illinois get more money per student than those in the places where education is more difficult to administer.

Google (used as a verb) American education problems and look at the long list of articles and reports by reputable sources.  You can spend the next month reading how we have slipped into a mediocre education system, or I should say, series of systems.  The value of education in some states is rather low and some of the courses dictated by local school boards would better be categorized as propaganda than education.

With such a gap in education quality across the nation, it becomes much easier for spin machines to do their work.  While I generally hate the “back in my day” approach, or statements beginning “when I was young,” here we go anyway.  There was a time when there were only three major television networks, a few major radio outlets, a relative handful of newspaper conglomerates and news services (eg. Reuters, UPI, AP).  They worked hard at getting the story first and getting it right.  Reporting was also educating and many of them knew it.

Now the news reporting is barely that.  Networks bring on so-called experts to spin the news and in many cases it is nothing more than biased viewpoints thrown at the uneducated masses for the purpose of swaying opinion.  When I think of certain right-wing outlets (you know the ones) I think of a lot of angry guys telling us what to think.  It may have been what the Republicans wanted from their media supporters at one time, but it seems to have blown up in their faces.  Insert the Donald Trump “I love the poorly educated” statement here.

Perhaps it is best to contemplate this statement from a Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin.  Yes, this widely spread statement is true: “The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.

 

Note:  While some rank the USA as number one in higher education in the world based on the sheer number of quality universities, no one ranks the overall education or systems of schools in the United States as anywhere near the top.

Sources: Pew Research Center
“Watch Trump Brag About Uneducated Voters, “The Hispanics,” Rolling Stone
“U.S. Millennials Come Up Short in Global Skills Study”, Education Week
“US Students Slide In Global Ranking,” NPR

WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND THEY ARE US

In this insane political year, when many of us are wondering if Donald Trump is the Beast of the Apocalypse, the angriest controversy on the Internet is over the loss of Stana Katic (Kate Beckett) on ABC’s “Castle.” It’s huge. Gigantic. Cataclysmic.

castle-4

It’s more important than our lemming-like rush to national oblivion.

Although I watch more television than I did when I was young and working, I can’t imagine being so invested in a show that I would display such vitriol about it. Garry and I watch “Castle.” We’ve enjoyed it, but the show has been drooping for the last two seasons. It’s probably past its prime and deserves honorable retirement. Nonetheless, ABC is going to give the show a full face lift, starting by ditching one of its two primary players. I doubt it’ll work, but hey, it’s their show. If they want to give a try, what’s the harm, right?

But man, the people on all these TV web sites are frothing at the mouth. As far as they are concerned, this is personal. They’re ready to take up arms in defense of a character on a television series.


Everyone is in a state of rage about something. Constantly. What used to be minor annoyances are now reasons for killing rage. Road rage is a great example. When did fender benders become cause for violently attacking each other? Maybe that accounts for why we’re locked into a national political suicide pact.

It’s generational. Our younger generations from Gen X through my granddaughter and her crowd — all of them are convinced the world has cheated them. Stolen the good life to which they were (by birth?) entitled.

Things have been a lot worse in this country than they are now without everyone going wacko. We’ve forgotten how to lose, so every contest — political, sporting, or whatever — is life or death. Surely we know that in any contest, one side wins and the other loses. Why is everyone going ballistic if they find themselves on the losing side?

When did a sense of entitlement replace commonsense and reason? If the good stuff doesn’t happen, if life doesn’t go as hoped, we are angry. Enraged. Failure no longer is a spur to greater effort, to rethink career goals, go back to school, find a better job, or work harder. We prefer to look for someone to blame. We could hold a national “Scapegoat of the Year” contest. Vent our national spleen on whichever group is the current favored object of collective wrath. It would be the only contest no one would mind losing.

Muslims. Mexicans. Brown people. Asian people. Democrats. Atheists. Poor people. Disabled people. Old people. Those People. What potential!

Pogo - Walt Kelly

Pogo – Walt Kelly

Whatever is wrong with the world, it didn’t get that way without our help. We elected the morons who got us here. Time to look in the mirror, then point an accusing finger at the real source of our woes. Us.

Oh, and Beckett is leaving Castle. Get over it.

GENERATIONS

POLITICS, WEATHER, AND LAST HURRAH SONGS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I promised Marilyn I’d write a little something to ease her burden of SERENDIPITY blogs. It’s difficult to be prolific and creative. I recall that dilemma from my TV news days. It’s a grind turning out daily, quality pieces.

My mind is a whirling dervish of loose marbles, some of which also contain the germ of an idea.

I’ve had enough of presidential politics for a while. My hearing aids are on overload. The Donald’s clown car needs a lube job. Hillary and Bernie need to tone it down and treat themselves to a spa weekend. Together. Maybe spend a little time reminiscing about the good old days in the Senate.

72-BW-Iron-Cowboy-Garry-010816_033

Politics has taken a temporary back seat to violent weather conditions disrupting many parts of the country. Those of us whining about dreary, endless rain would do well to look at regions battling killer fires, floods, and tornadoes.

The violent weather reminds me about the fragility of life. It also, in the dark recesses of my mind, reminds me of funerals and the music of such solemn gatherings. Weddings and funerals are big deals. They bring people together. Funerals can be awkward. Old animosities are suspended while the deceased are mourned. Music soothes the depressed, the craven, and those barely keeping it together.

I was at my best covering funerals during my years as a TV news reporter. I was allowed to stir the pot of sentimentality. Music was always the key. One time, I covered the last hurrah of a politician who was rumored to have had shady dealings in his past. Shocking, of course. Many were cynical about the praise heaped upon this scion of local politics. In this instance, I chose the high ground. My report was dominated by close up shots of grieving family, friends and colleagues.

I selected the Boston Irish favorite, “Galway Bay” as the music to dominate my piece. We ended the report with the casket being carried out of the cathedral into a gray, overcast day with the strains of “Galway Bay” echoing to the fade out.

I was lauded by many for providing just the right, sensitive touch for a man who was both adored and jeered in his lifetime. Music bridged the chasm.

I’ve given lots of thought about the music for my last hurrah. I’m a card-carrying sentimentalist. It juxtaposes with my cynicism. So,  I have a suggested play list for my final appearance on center stage as I begin the big sleep.

My favorites include “Nearer My God To Thee”, “Amazing Grace”, “Abide With Me”, “In The Garden”, “Shall We Gather By The River” and “Beautiful Savior” (my Mom’s favorite which my youngest brother plays at all his concerts).

The ringer could be “Happy Trails” because I’ll be riding the high country with my heroes – who have always been cowboys.

BEHIND THE SCENES OF OBAMA’S HISTORIC 2008 CAMPAIGN

AN INTERVIEW WITH

CONNIE CORCORAN WILSON

Author of “OBAMA’S ODYSSEY: The 2008 Race for the Whitehouse”

QUESTION – What do you think accounts for the degree of anger in the electorate? It seems to me and my husband (who was also a 40-year on the air professional reporter) that the “anger” is way out of proportion to anything going on in this country.

ANSWER –  A lot of it comes from the collective reside of the unwise wars in which we’ve become involved and the near-collapse of our economy in 2007-2008. That’s covered very well by the movie “The Big Short” (adapted from the book). If you haven’t seen it, absolutely do. Take notes.

Connie Corcoran Wilson

Connie Corcoran Wilson

We bailed out the big banks, but who on Wall Street paid for their near-lethal greed? No one. It’s intrinsically unfair — as Bernie Sanders keeps pointing out.

People are pretty P.O.-ed at Wall Street banks. Those voters should think carefully about the mess Obama inherited from his Republican predecessor; how he literally had to “save” our nation. Fortunately, he was a smart, highly educated guy who knew what needed to be done to rescue the economy from the brink. Find and kill Bin Laden. Pass the Affordable Care act. He’s been trying hard to get rid of Guantanamo, but has been stymied by the GOP. He also tried to get Republicans to meet in good faith with his nominee for the Supreme Court, but you know how well that’s going. It’s disgraceful to treat a sitting President with so little respect.

Wall Street’s greedy dishonesty plays to Bernie Sanders’ appeal to young voters, especially when he calls for free college and universal health care. My 28-year-0ld daughter has a far less bright future than I had on graduating college.

Bernie’s eventual fortunes, (should he become the Democratic nominee), are murky. Republicans have taken it easy on Bernie so far, preferring to focus on Hillary who they see as the logical nominee. If Bernie is nominated, he’ll be crucified. The opposition will have him branded a Commie in no time, even though it’s Donald Trump whose in-laws are actual card-carrying Communists.

I’m not sure Sanders has the international expertise Hillary Rodham Clinton possesses from years as Secretary of State. Nonetheless, I find it encouraging that young people are getting involved in the election and supporting a 74-year-old candidate with such enthusiasm.

Voters are sick of the stagnation in Washington. When a Republican like Mitch McConnell openly announces as his main goal to prevent President Obama from achieving any of his programs, designed to help Americans (that is, you and me), I think we could perceive it as racism, partisan politics (at the expense of the country), or just plain stubbornness. The Grand Old Party in days of yore believed in compromise. In getting things done. Sadly, there are no more Bob Doles or Tip O’Neill’s in Congress.

QUESTION – How much of the “anger” is really thinly disguised racism (in YOUR opinion … I’m not looking for evidence, just opinion)?

ANSWER – Your words, not mine, Marilyn; I cannot disagree with you. As Bernie Sanders said on Seth Meyer’s show on April 7, 2016: “The Republican obstructionism towards Obama over the past 7 and ½ years is unprecedented in American history.” Is there a way to explain this deplorable behavior beyond merely Obama’s policies?

You’ve suggested one. Because, as Bernie said, Obama tried to negotiate with the Republicans at first but their mindset was obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. I’m ashamed at how our President has been treated by Congress.

As of the last CNN Poll I read, Bernie would beat Trump by 20 points, [says Bernie], which ignores the fact that the Republicans will do everything in their power to deny Trump the Arrogant the nomination (successfully, I feel). “The truth is there is nothing radical about our agenda,” said Bernie on the April 8th Seth Meyers program.

Bernie also added graciously, “On Hillary Clinton’s worst day she’d be 100 times better than any of the Republicans.”

QUESTION – I still see a lot of that residual “not liking” of Hillary. I’ve met Hillary a couple of times (back in the 90s when Bill was Prez) and I liked her. She’s not warm or cuddly, but she’s smart, and professional. How much of the “not liking Hillary” is because she’s a tough woman and how much because she isn’t “one of the gang”? Again, I’m looking for what you think, not statistics or evidence.

ANSWER – In 2008, I reported what voters told me about their feelings and impressions of Hillary Clinton, especially in Iowa. Not necessarily my views. I was trying to be an impartial reporter — until McCain selected Sarah Palin. After which all bets were off.

Iowans didn’t like Hillary’s laugh, her screechy voice, or her vote for the Iraq war. Some felt she exuded a sense of entitlement. Others — especially Hispanic voters — thought she was great. It was interesting that those who should have been her biggest supporters (that is, mature white women) were her biggest detractors.

I think she is one of the most qualified candidates to come down the pike in years and it’s time we elected a woman as President. Despite one person’s claim (a Canadian) that I am, somehow, trying to “derail” Hillary’s campaign, nothing could be further from the truth.

I followed the presidential campaigns of ’04, ’08 and ’12, but there’s no way I could follow the campaigns of Trump and Cruz, let alone vote for either one. I think Kasich is the most reasonable of the GOP lot, but he vetoed funds for Planned Parenthood in Ohio– while campaigning. He may be reasonable onstage, but offstage Kasich mentions wanting to take Christianity to the Muslim world. Which smacks of the medieval Crusades — not something I can support.

It’s a sad commentary on politics in America today and the status of the G.O.P. in general ( not to mention a terrible example to set for the rest of the world) when Trump talks about using nuclear weapons in Europe. His hateful, bigoted remarks are being used as a recruitment video for ISIS. His rallies are egotistical, non-events for people who would vote for a Kardashian because they’ve seen them on television.

QUESTION – Give me four things you want people to know about Obama’s Odyssey?

ANSWER – That these books lay out the behind-the-scenes adventures, complete with entertaining, often funny stories.

Another thing. It’s very unusual for someone my age who’s just a “regular citizen” to be granted access to the future president of the US. To rub shoulders with the power brokers at the caucuses and conventions of 2008. I also covered 2004 and 2012, but not inside the Big Show of the conventions.

Everyone should recognize — acknowledge — the power of the word on the Internet, if that word is widely distributed. I’ve written about the campaign on my little WeeklyWilson.com blog. My “Associated Content” writing let me be inside in Denver, St. Paul, and elsewhere. Which was not on my “to do” list when I began.

I did my best to make my book lighthearted. If you can’t have fun while doing something, what’s the point? I wanted to get at the truth in 2008, have fun, and be part of what I consider one of the most historical election cycles of this century and my lifetime. If you’re looking for an expert? Look elsewhere.

If you’re looking for a person with Iowa roots who could follow the campaigns in Iowa? I’m your girl! I live across the I-74 bridge from Davenport, Iowa (the Quad Cities). My Sylvan Learning Center #3301 is in Bettendorf, Iowa. I grew up in Independence, Iowa. I graduated from the University of Iowa. Like most Americans, I’ve become skeptical about getting the truth when we watch Fox News or, for that matter, MSNBC. I wanted to find out for myself. I had no idea my articles on would become so popular and well-read. That I’d get so many hits and so many comments. That I’d be invited to Denver and St. Paul. It just happened. It wasn’t my goal or my assignment.

I’m tired of “the tail wagging the dog” with election results announced prematurely which then influence the outcome of the actual election. I still believe Al Gore won in Florida. I think The Donald has repeatedly referenced the dirty trick played on Ben Carson in Iowa by the Cruz campaign in which Cruz’ people announced Carson had suspended his Iowa race — just before voters went to the polls to caucus — and it was not true. You learn this stuff in far greater detail if you’re actually there.

Off I went, Nikon in hand, navigating the Iowa caucuses all over the state and writing about it for “Associated Content” blog. I interviewed real voters and tramped around in bitterly cold weather.

I learned how to get to 3 rallies in separate locations on the same night (Hillary, Edwards and Obama). I was on a first-name basis with the Bidens. They sent me e-mails telling me where to be and when. I include amusing articles such as “Alternative Titles for the Sarah Palin Documentary”and recount some of the better “jabs” on late-night television shows.

The books contain 88 new, never-published photos. The information in the books should be preserved for future historians. It’s the only way anyone will get a true taste of what 2008 was like.

I was there and I work hard to make sure that you, my readers, are part of it too.

OBAMA’S ODYSSEY: THE 2008 RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House – Connie Corcoran Wilson


It wasn’t what I expected and after I started reading it, I had to revise my approach to the book. I had been expecting the author’s journey, starting in Iowa and ending with the 2008 general election. Instead, it’s a compilation of blog posts written by the author over that same time span. It covers the same time period and material … but not as expected.

Obamas Odyssey book

Rather than a continuous, sequential narrative, the book comprises series of snapshots. Interviews and events with candidates, wannabes, politicians, volunteers, voters, support staff, and political operatives. Connie Corcoran Wilson’s posts are witty, amusing, perceptive, and enlightening, especially when she focuses on the realities of life as a working journalist covering a presidential campaign.

I could very easily relate the long hours, the short sleep, the rapid changes of venue. The mental agility required to keep up that grueling pace for all those months. Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, being a working reporter is far from glamorous.

Ms. Wilson captures the character of the people with whom she interacts with charm, humor, and grace. But there is, nonetheless, a choppy quality that is the inevitable result of a compilation of posts rather than a story. There is also a bit more repetition of subjects that is, again, the inevitable result of compiling blog entries rather than writing the story as a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Connie Wilson is a fine writer and she excels at her medium … blogging. I’m a blogger too. I “get” it. But blogging is not authoring. It’s the same church, but a different pew. Blog posts are free-standing, short subjects. You can collect them and put them in a binding to form a book-length volume of material, but it will still lack a continuous story. This lack becomes more increasingly problematic as the book progresses. The jumps between posts are sometimes a bit jarring.

The result? Despite excellent writing, the book doesn’t feel like a book. It feels like what it is: a huge collection of political blog posts. The posts are good, many excellent. A lot of perceptivity and sensitivity raises her writing well above the so-called news writing you find on the Internet … or for that matter, in much of what you’ll find in print or on television. I would have appreciated more “connective tissue” to give the book an easier-to-follow timeline and structure.

The good news? The insider views of the campaign are priceless. The people. The voters. The volunteers. The politicians and their operatives. The process itself with all its quirks. The information is timely and might help you put the current political frenzy in context.

The material and author’s insights make Obama’s Odyssey a worthwhile investment of time. It’s a good, albeit flawed, book that covers the extraordinary 2008 campaign with a rare intimacy.