Q Street Preschool Exclusive: Obama and Clinton Talk on the Phone

The Q Street Preschool\'s Primary Election MapWe’re not the first to observe that the Democratic primary season has gone on for a long time. How long? Well, in our Q Street Preschool the Yanshufim class that began a Reggio Emilia-inspired project looking at politics back in January, thinking it would be an undertaking demanding their attention for a few weeks, has seen it go on for months. While the nominating process went on and on, the children grew several inches, had new siblings join their families and doggedly stuck with their project. Now that it has “ended” with Barack Obama earning enough delegates to claim the nomination, the Yanshufim gathered in circle time this morning to consider the political moment and like alot of pundits, consider the way forward. When their teachers Jill and Gary told them that according to reports, Obama and Clinton spoke on the phone this morning, the class re-created what might have been said:

Alex- Obama will ask, “Can you be my running mate?” Clinton will say, “I would like to be your running mate.”

Anna- Clinton will say, “I want to be your running mate.”

Zoe- Obama will say, “If you want to keep running you may, but if you want to drop out you may also.”

Gabriel – Obama will say, “I think we can beat John McCain together.”

One girl in the class summed up her feelings as being, “Happy and Sad. Sad because Hillary didn’t win, but happy because Obama got the nomination.” This may have been the most apt observation, as the Democrats’ chances in November ride on whether enough grown-ups will also feel the same.

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Post-Presidents Day Salute: A.L. Levine

Barack Obama may very well become the first African American President, or alternately Hillary Clinton may become the first woman elected President. It is even possible that John McCain may become the first, well, really really seriously old white guy to be elected President (72 on inauguration day). It is safe to say however, that the first Jewish president is yet to be on the ballot.The Wanting of Levine

So for the time being Jewish Presidents belong to the realm of fiction, which brought to mind Michael Halberstam’s 1978 bestselling novel The Wanting of Levine. It is long out of print, though it appears in the catalog of the Montgomery County Public Library system. When I went seeking a copy this weekend, the librarian I consulted noted the book had not circulated in five years and was probably long-gone from the shelves. Lucky for me, she was wrong.

Set ten years in the future from its publication date (and twenty years before our current quadrennial contest), the novel presents a United States that is well on its way to being a second-rate power. Energy rationing is in effect, standards of living are declining, racial violence is increasing, individual states are involved in border wars over trade and tariffs — there’s a general sense that things are going to hell very quickly. To top it off, the Democrat’s front-runner for the nomination has just stabbed his wife to death in a drunken rage. Enter the mercurial figure of A.L. Levine, until now a back-room DNC committeeman after a fortune made in sales and real estate development. When circumstances thrust him into the spotlight, Levine begins his own unlikely candidacy.

The novel is one-part political insider fiction, one part-late seventies sex romp, one part liberal Jewish wish-fulfillment and one-part a canny take on the rhythms of political enthusiasm and what Americans want from a President. Written as it was in a pre-AIDS, pre-Reagan, pre-Internet and pre-collapse of the Soviet Union (just to mention a few epoch shaping “pre’s”) era, the novel obviously has limits when applied to today’s political landscape. Certainly, Levine, with a libido Bill Clinton could only envy, would not be electable, never mind even runnable in today’s climate. Continue reading

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