Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Senators McCain and Obama - At Their Best - Post Election Reflections

The Alfred E. Smith Foundation Memorial Dinner is an annual white tie fundraiser dinner event for Catholic Charities, held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, in honor of former New York Governor Al Smith, the first Catholic presidential candidate. The first dinner was in 1945, the year after Al Smith's death.

What many people outside of the US may not know is that as far as stereotypes are concerned - "Catholic" in America used to be equated with "low class Irish drunk". The Klu Klux Klan was after "Catholics" as much as it was after "Blacks" because of competition for jobs and resources. African American and Irish women shared a strong history as servants to the upper classes who looked down on both groups. "First Catholic presidential candidate" - Governor Alfred E. Smith, therefore is a historical figure in the US, much like JFK as the first Irish Catholic President. Of course, by now, we know the historical outcome of this year's election. The US keeps growing and rewarding heroes from its lower social ranks who end up elevating all of us.

At this traditional dinner during our campaigns, the candidates make fun of themselves and each other. The event is shortly before the actual election and tensions are high. We get to see the candidates at their best, and are reminded - that if we can keep laughing together, and especially - at ourselves - there is hope for all of us.

Here are the two speeches in the order given.

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