My too-tight Obama t-shirt fits me just fine

I ordered a Size Small t-shirt from Barack Obama headquarters because even though I am a sophisticated woman in my late 20s, I still sometimes forget that I cannot wear the cute things I see in Limited Too and Gap Kids. So now I have this teeny-tiny Obama t-shirt that I can only wear under a v-neck sweater because otherwise my belly button shows.

But you know what? So what if my belly button shows! I will proudly wear my Obama half-shirt that says to the world, “This girl believes in all that is right and good in America even when it comes in the form of a glorified sports bra.”

I know that politics is inherently divisive and the last thing I want to do is alienate any of my readers (or my family members) who aren’t hugging Obama to their chests with the same shrink-in-the-wash fervor that I am. But I’d be betraying my principles* if I didn’t blog a little bit about my guy this campaign season.

This morning I read Colm Toibin’s essay “James Baldwin and Barack Obama” in the New York Review of Books. When Toibin was here in Charlottesville for the Virginia Festival of the Book, he spoke about Baldwin’s influence both on his character and on his writing. The fact that parallels can be drawn between Baldwin and Obama puts me in a happy place.

Baldwin and Obama, although in different ways, experienced the church and intense religious feeling as key elements in their lives. They both traveled and discovered while abroad, almost as a shock, an essential American identity for themselves while in the company of non-Americans who were black. They both came to see, in a time of bitter political division, some shared values with the other side. They both used eloquence with an exquisite, religious fervor.

Coibin continues:

Had their ambitions been less focused and their personalities less complex, Baldwin and Obama could easily have become pastors, preachers, leaders of black churches. But for both of them there was a shadow, a sense of an elsewhere that would form them and make them, eventually, more interested in leading America itself, or as much of it as would follow, than merely leading their own race in America. Both of them would discover their essential Americanness outside America, Baldwin in France, the home of some of his literary ancestors, Obama in Kenya, the home of his father.

(I could crib the whole essay or you could read it yourself on a more reputable website.)

The point of all this is, if we’re going to have a political wet t-shirt contest, I want to be in Panama City flaunting the logo of the candidate who can be compared to one of America’s greatest writers, not in a town hall meeting flaunting the logo of the candidate who can be compared to George W. Bush or to “a sock puppet with two glass eyes.”** May the best man win!

*One of my lesser principles is “Vote for the Good-Looking Guy.”

**Quote by my future husband, who chose malicious wit over a t-shirt campaign.

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