Which candidates would you want for neighbors?

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2008, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

So, I’m watching the Today Show interview with Barack and Michelle Obama, and find myself thinking, “I really like her. She’d make a great First Lady.”

Michelle is direct, articulate, witty and smart. And she clearly loves and admires her husband -- for real, not just for polling points. She often reaches over and touches him, and he responds comfortably, warmly. Body language speaks volumes. There’s genuine affection between them, and it says a lot about a person when the one who knows you best not only loves you, but likes you.

Contrast that to the stiff, wooden body language between Bill and Hillary Clinton. Wonder how long they practiced to make it look like they actually enjoy hugging each other. As for John and Cindy McCain, they rarely seem to touch at all. If John leaned in to give her a peck on the cheek, she’d probably balk and say, “Watch the hair! Don’t smudge the lipstick!” No wonder he’s so grumpy. He can’t get no satisfaction.

As for Michelle, it wasn’t the first time she impressed me. Like in a recent news segment featuring the Obamas sitting at some picnic tables with local folks, just chatting. No moderators, no fancy lighting or staged crowds, just chit-chat. Although clearly a fiery woman who speaks her mind when necessary, Michelle also seems down to earth and approachable. Unpretentious. Funny. Friendly. Someone you’d like having live next door.

So, I played with that fantasy for awhile. What if the remaining Presidential candidates and spouses moved in next door?

I can easily imagine having the Obamas over for a backyard barbecue, enjoying some Sangria, chatting into the wee hours on a hot summer night. Christmas parties? They’d definitely be on the guest list. And if life was kicking me around, I’d wander next door in my leopard jammies and fuzzy slippers, and pour my heart out to Michelle over a cup of coffee.

And Barack? If I needed help programming the DVD player or moving a bookcase, he’d drop what he was doing and come right over in his basketball sweats, I just know it.

Yes, the Obamas get two thumbs up.

If the McCains moved in next door, I envision John as pleasant enough, in a crusty, curmudgeonly sort of way. You might have a cordial exchange now and then, and think maybe he’s not so bad after all, but the first time you throw a rowdy backyard pool party, he’d be calling the cops at 10:01 p.m. sharp, complaining about the noise. On a Saturday night! He’d be a drag to invite to a party and an even bigger drag not to invite to a party.

As for Cindy, I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams we’d be friends. She’s too uptight, too perfectly coiffed and dressed, and seems about as cuddly as a porcupine. And she’s scary. Her eyes look like lasers. We’d view each other as aliens. I’d see her as an icy, judgmental, controlling Neo-Fascist Right Wing hose-beast, and she’d be convinced that I’m a tree-hugging, tofu-eating lesbian hippie radical practicing witchcraft in the backyard.

I’d venture to say that she and I would avoid making eye contact should we come home from work at the same time, me on my old pink bike and her in her hulking, gas-guzzling Lincoln Navigator adorned with “I Support the Troops” ribbons, not grasping the irony therein.

Bottom line, with the McCains as neighbors, everyone on the street would celebrate when they moved out.

Then there’s the Clintons. They fall somewhere in between the Obamas and the McCains. Hillary would be okay as a neighbor, someone you’d feel obligated to invite to a party, but you know she’s gonna show up with a Celine Dion CD and white zin. What a dork. And those pantsuits. Dude. It’s a party. Get some jeans.

Bill, on the other hand, well, that’s why you keep inviting the Clintons over. Bubba’s the life of every party, even though he drinks crap beer and you have to keep an eye on him if your daughter’s home from college. And you just know he ogles you through a knothole in the fence when you’re sunbathing. But you don’t object because, truth be told, you kinda like it. And he knows it. The dog. And if he actually hit on you? Well, could you blame him?

So, who would you want living next door? Think about that, because we’ll be living with them for a long time.

OUT OF OFFICE COUNTDOWN: The current neighbors move out in 38 weeks! Let’s throw a party!