I’m a very gracious winner — magnanimous and modest. My husband is just the opposite — gloating and gleeful and so thoroughly irritating I want to belt him.
We also react to losing very differently. He shrugs it off, his rather vast supply of self-esteem still intact. Not me. I’m a terrible loser — morose, bitter, spiteful. (This leads me to the obvious conclusion that our small world would be a better place if I won all the time. But, never mind.)
All of which is why, at midnight last night, my husband was already asleep as the disappointing vote totals came in in the Texas primary. My daughter, who’s visiting from Boston, and I stayed up, obsessively watching the returns, drinking, commenting bitterly, plotting small, pointless acts of revenge.
And the evening had started out so well, so hopefully! A large gathering of almost all our neighbors at O. Henry Middle School for the Democratic caucus, everyone cheerful, thrilled to be participating in such a public way, full of bonhomie and camaraderie and doubtless many other jolly -ie words I can’t think of. Sure, it was all disorganized, but we took the chance to talk to one another and wave at friends and thoroughly enjoy such an unusual, unprecedented moment.
But, back to earth: The vote totals. After massively sulking for a few hours (which nobody noticed — a big problem, I’ve noticed, with sulking as a communication tool), I’m struck by a few thoughts. First, I just want some kind of swift resolution for the Democratic nomination, and that’s not coming. Still, I hope both candidates, their staffs, and their supporters maintain their greatest loyalty toward getting a Democrat into the White House in November. I don’t want John McCain stacking the Supreme Court with more Alitos and Robertses and Thomases and Scalias and I sure as hell don’t want a stay-whatever-the-cost 100 years war in Iraq.
As I listened to Paul Begala on CNN last night, he said something I found very telling and worthy of remembering. Everybody says the Clintons are fighters, he said, as if that’s a bad thing. But it isn’t. He wants somebody like that in his corner, somebody who will not give up. Which made me wonder: Would the 2000 election debacle in Florida have been lost with the Clintons at the helm? (Ignoring, of course, the fact that it came down to Florida because of Bill Clinton’s reckless behavior in the White House.)
Complicated, confusing, enraging — all of it. But I do believe one thing: It’s time for Obama to get out there and take it home. If he can’t win against the Clintons, then maybe he shouldn’t be the nominee. It’s not like the Republicans are going to be any easier to defeat.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)