When was the last time I got excited about a presidential race? Jerry Brown, probably. 1992. The only reason I was excited, though, wasn't because I thought he would win -- I knew he wouldn't -- but because I knew him personally. I met him when I was 11 years old, at a cattle round up out the Ortega Highway at Rancho Mission Viejo. The Moiso family owned the ranch at that point (still do), making them gazillionaires, and they must have been financial supporters of his because every year for a while he was there, hanging out near the corral where cowboys were castrating calves.
When I moved to San Francisco at the end of the 80s, I lived with my best friend's oldest sister, Cathy Calfo. Cathy is a political wunderkind in California, a genius in grass-roots movements. At the time I lived with her (as her children's nanny), she was serving as the Vice-Chair of the California Democratic Party. Jerry Brown was the Chair. He was always coming over for dinner to strategize with Cathy about their next moves. He seemed to know EVERYBODY in the entire world. When he found out I was a writer, he asked me who my favorites were. At the time, Gabriel Garcia Marquez was one of my heroes.
"I'll introduce you to him," Jerry said. I called him Jerry. I don't know why I acted with such disrespect, but if you know the guy, he's more a Jerry than a Governor.
If you know the guy, you know that he's one of the smartest people you will ever meet. Which is exactly why I knew he would not become President of the United States. He was always coming up with new ideas, always thinking of ways to make things better, always strategizing, always caring about something huge and important and meaningful. He was so passionate, I couldn't see him in the job.
Tonight, I had the honor of meeting Barak Obama at a fundraiser in Houston. He, too, is obviously ultra-intelligent. He's clearly passionate, a risk-taker. He seems more stately than Jerry Brown, who was in fact nicknamed Governor Moonbeam when he served as governor of California from '75 to '83.
When Obama entered the room, the electricity bumped up several amperes. Like Brown, Obama spoke like a real person, a real smart person. He's aiming his campaign at those people who have grown cynical and disenfranchised regarding American politics over the past howevermanyyears. (That would be me.) He spoke succinctly but powerfully about health care, education and energy, three hot issues, surely. It's easy to sound off about these things. But I found myself thinking "yes! exactly!" several times while listening to him. I can't remember the last time I felt that way while listening to a politician.
I don't know if he'll win the nomination or not; however, I'm so glad he's put his self in the running. Finally. Someone courageous, intelligent, kind and stately, yes, someone presidential.