Nov. 4, 2008

#67: Success is counted sweetest

by Emily Dickinson

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory

As he defeated — dying —
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

"Success is counted sweetest" by Emily Dickinson. Public domain. (buy now)

It's the birthday of rodeo performer and humorist Will Rogers, (books by this author) born in Indian Territory in Oklahoma (1879). He made fun of all the leading politicians of his day.

Rogers said, "When I die, my epitaph … is going to read: 'I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn't like.' I am so proud of that I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved. And when you come to my grave you will find me sitting there, proudly reading it."

He said, "There is no credit to being a comedian, when you have the whole government working for you. All you have to do is report the facts. I don't even have to exaggerate."

Today is Election Day. It's the 56th presidential election of the United States, and today is the first time in more than 50 years that neither the sitting president nor the sitting vice president is a candidate on his party's ticket in the new presidential election. It's also the very first time in history that the two main candidates for president are both sitting senators. The last sitting senator to be elected U.S. president was JFK in 1960.

Many parties besides the Democrats and Republicans have nominated candidates for today's election; these parties include Green, Libertarian, Constitution, Prohibition, Reform, Workers World Party, Boston Tea Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the Socialist Workers Party — whose presidential candidate, if he were to win the election, would not be able to serve as president, because he was born in Nicaragua.

Both Barack Obama (books by this author) and John McCain (books by this author) are best-selling authors. John McCain was on book tour for his memoir Faith of My Fathers (1999) at the same time that he was on the campaign trail in the 2000 election.

McCain wrote in his second memoir, Worth the Fighting For (2002):

"I didn't decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to become president."

Barack Obama wrote his first memoir, Dreams from My Father, in 1995, after he became president of the Harvard Law Review but before he began his political career. His second book was The Audacity of Hope (2006). One journalist called it his "thesis submission" for the presidency, and it was the book, along with his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, that brought him to national attention.

He wrote:

"I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP."

In Faith of My Fathers, John McCain wrote humorously about his poor performance at the Naval Academy, where he graduated fifth from the bottom of his class. He also wrote about his time in Vietnam, as a prisoner of war. He wrote:

"There are greater pursuits than self-seeking. Glory is not a conceit. It is not a prize for being the most clever, the strongest, or the boldest. Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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