One week later, I still have to repeat quietly to myself that Barack Obama was elected our 44th President. As inevitable as it seemed during the closing weeks of the campaign, it was still stunning to hear the announcement we all knew was coming on Tuesday night.
History making? No doubt, but had the Republicans won we could have said the same thing, albeit for different reasons. Some random thoughts from Election night and the aftermath, and the campaign:
John McCain, during his concession speech, looked like the most relieved man on the planet. Something about his demeanor suggested to this observer that perhaps he was never comfortable with the way his campaign was run, and was just glad the whole thing was over. Perhaps the respected Senator can get back whatever credibility he may have lost during the past few months and return to being a prodcutive, bipartisan member of the Senate. I hope so.
It will be fascinating to read the multitude of books that will undoubtedly be published about the 2008 election. Newsweek's upcoming article is just the tip of the iceberg, and provides wonderful insight. The books will dig deeper, and will be a great read for political junkies everywhere.
What was soundly defeated this night? Rovian style polictics, for one. Maybe it was because the dirt kicked up by the GOP was already scraped up by the Clintons during the primaries, or maybe since the accusations were quickly refuted/explained by Obama, or simply beacuse people saw them for what they were - desperation ploys by a sinking campaign. Whatever the voter rationale, one thing was certain - the tactics were a complete failure, and for that, America should be grateful. Consider our collective bullshit detector finely tuned.
Also, more importantly, Fear had its ass kicked. Try as they did to make voters afraid of the scary Secrct Muslim/Terrorist "Paller Arounder"/Socialist/Commie and oh yeah, black guy, America called bullshit. If only there were some kind of saying I could quote, from a famous person, regarding how the only thing we should ever be afraid of would be being afraid, or something like that.......
I can not for the life of me recall ever seeing worldwide reaction to a Presdiential election. I guess there was never anything to show in prior years. Seeing how the world reacted spoke volumes about a.) how America's stock instantly rose throughout the world, and b.) how much it had fallen over the past eight years. (Though I'm still trying to figure out why the town of Obama, Japan was so excited - "Yay, the guy with the same name as out town won! We rule!")
I listened to people all around me tell me how they couldn't support Obama's candidacy. reasons varied, from his stance on taxes (folks who enjoy not paying them aren't generally happy about knowing they'll soon be paying more) to his Pro-Choice stance (please don't get me started on single issue voters - they get the government they deserve). One person I know started by telling me he just didn't think Obama "cared about America". I couldn't let that one go - no person crazy enough to run for President, and expose himself, his family, etc. to all that goes along with it could not be accused of not having some crazy America love. Later this person mentioned he was "tired of Barack Obama"....which made sense since the guy was in the news virtually every day from January. Eventually it struck me, and I never wanted to think so, but race had to play a factor for voters like this. People simply looking for a reason to not vote for him. Thankfully these voters were not much of a factor.
As for someone else I knew who was on the fence, I simply said "Two words: President Palin". I think this person flipped for Obama.
Wither Governor Palin? Well, for starters, it looks like the candidate who wasn't allowed to talk to the media now can't stop giving interviews. It would not be a surprise to see her continue her political career on the national stage (or try to , anyway), or end up hosting a morning talk show. Neither would surprise me. Keep talking, Governor, as you provide an endless source of material for Olbermann, Stewart and Colbert. Oh, and give back those clothes.
The amount of whining from the right wing noise machine of Hannity, Limbaugh, et al. is to be expected, and it will not be a shock to see these vile and loathesome demagogues (thanks to Al Franken for that line) flourish during a Democratic Presidential administration. Hate and fear still sells to a narrow (and narrow-minded) segment of the population, unfortunately, and these folks always choose the loudest, uglist path to follow, as opposed to rational, factual debate. A descent into obscurity and irrelevance would be most welcome.
...and what about President Bush and what's left of his cronies? If nothing else this vote was a resounding condemnation of this Presdient's two terms. He too looked to be relieved as he realized his time was just about up. I know he feels he will somehow be vindicated by history, but I don't see how. Rather, the last eight years will be studied by historians and used as a primer on how not to run government. The next four years pose an enormous challenge for Persident-Elect Obama, but the American people have spoken, and decided that he is just the person for the job.
Let's go, we've got work to do.