An American President

It seems that the controversy over what kind of candidate America is ready for have died away. It was two weeks ago that there was an article in my copy of The Nation reported on the issue. Perhaps we are no longer concerned about a black president. Or worse -- a woman. Perhaps we are maturing.

But, then, as I read the continuing reports on the health of Elizabeth Edwards tonight, I wondered. The New York Times quotes Mrs. Edwards: “I expect to live a long time. I expect us to have lots and lots of years together. I do believe that. But if that’s not the case, I don’t want my legacy to be that I pulled somebody who ought to be president out of the race. It’s not fair to me, in a sense.” I have an unsettled feeling about this comment.

Please forgive me for whatever insensitivity I might imply here. My mother died of cancer. And I spent this week in the hospital with a dying patient (who apparently has not yet died -- according today's paper). I'm a little sensitive myself. But, if this seems insensitive, please forgive me. Now, without further apology, my heart wonders if Mrs. Edwards is kidding herself. In no way do I think she should reveal to the public how long the doctors expect her to live, anymore than I understand that science has all the answers. But, this comment seems naive. It seems so deliriously hopeful that I fear for both John and Elizabeth Edwards.

I wonder if our conversation as a country should focus more on the personas in leadership. Not black. Not white. Not male. Not female. Not Republican. Not Democrat. Instead, I wonder if we should wonder about the emotional stability of the person that we ask to lead us. As a culture that does not grieve, can we really be lead by the grieving? Whether or not Mrs. Edwards faces an imminent death, we do know that her cancer is incurable. It's fatal. Like all of us, she will die. But, it seems that she will die soon. We don't know how soon. Only that she will die soon. This is going to impact the lives of the Edwards family. It may cause rash choices. It may cause more conservative choices -- none of which may be political. But, this news will cloud everything that happens in every day to come in the lives of both John and Elizabeth Edwards. And so I wonder. Are we able to walk with them in their grief?

I don't know.


Songbird said...

This is a powerful reflection. The Edwards have been on my mind, too. It's hard to know how to raise questions without sounding like we're slamming them, but you have done it gracefully.
I'll be thinking today about your words.

will smama said...

Your post ended in a place I didn't expect it to, with the question, "Are we able to walk with them in their grief?"

As politically incorrect as it is, I don't think people want to and that is what is going to keep him from going much farther than New Hampshire.

Thanks for the reflection.

Pastor Peters said...

Grief is not political, any more than it may be politically correct.

Whether or not the Edwards decide to campaign, the question that lingers is if we can handle the breakdown. When the cancer gets worse, can we look to a leader who falls into a depression about his dying wife? We can barely walk with people in our local communities in grief.

I don't think we have enough compassion to walk with our leaders down that road. Do you?

Songbird said...

Well, maybe *we* do, if by we I mean you and me and will smama. But I think as a culture we want the grief to be tidied away quickly, much like David getting back to the world after Bathsheba's son dies.