My last column tweaked Joe Lieberman* for having a man crush on McCain.(The term gained popularity in 2005. link) I’ve written about the slavering masses willing to follow Sarah Palin off the White Cliffs of Dover. But I just came across a photo essay I’d missed from the November 5, 2008 Boston Globe and when I saw the pictures of Obama giving the fist bump to Robert Gibbs’s little boy (no. 27 – links to single photos), the photo of Malia and Sasha running to meet their dad as he was getting off an airplane (no. 32 link), and Michelle and Barack, foreheads together (no. 16 link), I knew I’d been smitten for some time.

Picture number 34 link in Chicago on election night with the new president elect, Michelle, Malia and Sasha is moving too, but I saw that live.

View the entire 35 picture photo essay here (link, long download).

I’d seen the Barack Obama pictured by himself, the earnest and the serious leader of the free world I wanted elected president, the man who had a ready natural smile. However, The Boston Globe favored us with full screen images which are more powerful and telling than the downsized photos we usually see online.

I read Obama’s books and knew what he stood for from reading and listening to him explain his positions and philosophy. He was the person I wanted to lead us out of the nightmare of eight years of George W. Bush.

But as much as I’ve both mocked and criticized those who responded to the aura of Sarah Palin, with her physical beauty and pretense at being everywoman, and as much as I lambasted those who back McCain because they bought the image of him as a heroic POW, I think I also was moved by the subliminal message imparted by seeing the Obama family.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t have been an supporter if he was cut out of the same stiff and tightly woven cloth as Al Gore or John Kerry.

I voted for both of them because of their positions and because the alternative was unacceptable to me. But truth be told I was never particularly enthusiastic about them.

Al Gore kept trying to reinvent his persona, and when John Kerry stood at the convention and saluted and said he was reporting and ready for duty I saw his chances fade before my eyes.

I didn’t pay any attention to Obama when he gave the convention speech that brought him to the attention of Republican insiders, but from the day he announced his candidacy I never saw him trying to present himself in any way different from who he was.

Even so I was torn between supporting Obama or Clinton until she started to attack Obama and showed a willingness to play political theater what with downing the shots and beers.

McCain, in unguarded moments, probably would admit that he rarely if ever let the true John McCain out on purpose. Still, his hostility and the chilly interactions between his own wife and his vice presidential candidates were obvious to anyone not blinded by partisanship. I have to think he lost votes as many votes because he seemed likable one minute and angry the next.

On the other hand, Obama was always likable and natural. Even his sorry attempt at bowling while wearing a shirt and tie was unscripted. After all, if anybody had any sense they would have at least had him take off his tie before the threw the gutter balls.

Believe it or not, I admire both the vice presidential candidates because like Obama, they were themselves.

Joe Bidden was, well, Joe Bidden. None of his gaffs made a whit of difference to the voters even when the Republicans tried to play them up.

Sarah Palin tried to be Sarah Palin, and only faltered when she let her handlers dictate to her about how to come across.

I have unmercifully skewed her on these “pages” and no matter how much she learns I don’t think she has what it takes to be a good president. Not that she doesn’t have native intelligence and people sense, she does. But she lacks intellectual curiosity.

I have to give Sarah Palin this, when unrestrained by beltway handlers, she is real.

This was demonstrated in the turkey decapitation video that has been repeated incessantly on television. The simple fact is that she didn’t give a screeching squawk about viewers being squeamish. She’d probably remind them that they’re going to eat turkey on Thanksgiving and “what did you think, they all died of natural causes?”

I have friends who were strong Hillary Clinton supporters who believed that Obama was too good to be true, that I was being taken for a sucker in believing that what I saw in him as a person wasn’t being feigned. They thought that for a therapist I ought to know better than being suckered in by a good actor.

I look at those still pictures, those captured instants in time that photographers know they only can hope for every once in awhile, and I just don’t believe I’m wrong.

Obama is the real deal.

* On Joe Lieberman: I’m especially glad I wrote what I did last week now that he couldn’t bring himself to say the simple words “I’m sorry about some of the things I said about Barack Obama” when he was on Meet the Press today. There’s a big difference between saying “I regret what I said” and an apology. Not to rehash my previous column though I wonder if Joe is still trying to ingratiate himself to his close friend John. I find Lieberman’s unwillingness to answer a straight question more that irritating. Tom Brokaw asked him specifically if he was sorry. This was his answer: “I do regret, as I said to the caucus and afterward publicly, there are some things I said during the heat of the campaign that I should have said more clearly and some things I shouldn’t have said at all. They stressed disapproval for some of the things I said. I accept that. That was the spirit of reconciliation. Now we move on together to get the nation’s business done. We don’t have the luxury of looking back. He is the winner, he is the President-elect.” I’d never have never gotten away with that in lieu of an “I’m sorry” with my parents and I can’t imagine Joe would have. Sam Stein wrote pretty much my thoughts on Huffington Post today.

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