Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The joyful aftermath

Now that I have been able to collect my thoughts, scattered as they were by more powerful emotions such as joy and relief and pride and amazement, here they are:

McCain's concession speech was the greatest moment of his campaign. Had he sounded and acted like last night throughout, he may not have been trounced the way he was. Call me paranoid, but I thought that making it about African-Americans at the very beggining of the speech still had a whiff of scaremongering amongst his base. It was over 100 million people who voted, it was about more than African Americans. Thus, I didn't find the speech as gracious at the very beginning, but maybe it's just that there is a certain tone-deafness in McCain's camp in general. Then McCain corrected course. When alluding to the mistakes he made, I could not help but parse this as the major blunder of choosing Palin for a running mate (against his wishes, according to a New Yorker article). About her, there is no need to expound. She showed who she was, or rather who she wasn't from the very beginning and it just kept getting worse. The way she was manipulated by the campaign and used to unleash ugliness was not only cynical and disgusting but a terrible setback for women and for everybody in America. There were many other mistakes that showed McCain was out of touch with the reality of most people. The condescension towards Obama, the racial baiting, the patronizing tone towards the American people (Joe the Plumber?) but most damaging was the ideological tunnel vision of his campaign strategy. Their base, to which they pandered and because of which they floundered, is irrelevant today. Most American people have more common sense and more authentic decency and, as the results show, more pressing problems, than those fringe lunatics that Steve Schmidt and Karl Rove think can win them an election. Republicans showed that they live in a dangerous ideological bubble of their own making that has now felicitously (for us) and disastrously (for them) exploded. The fact that they pretended that G.W. Bush, the biggest elephant in the room in the history of the world, wasn't there, didn't help any. The entire McCain campaign symbolizes neatly and beautifully everything that is wrong with the Republican party. Now they have four years to regroup and fix it, and perhaps they can become a viable party again for those tax-obsessed people who believe in total self-reliance, not for evangelical loonies and intolerant bigots and ultra-rightist extremists.

I was struck by the cold indifference of McCain's body language as he patted Palin in the back and as he almost forgot that his Barbie wife was standing beside him (who must have been the most relieved American of all). He barely acknowledged her, and not for the first time. Compare that to what goes on with the Obamas and I'm just thrilled we have a power couple finally who seems to be having an actual, living, breathing intimate relationship. They are a real couple. I'm thankful just for that. I believe it is more important than it seems (think the Nixons, the Fords, the Clintons, the Bushes and the Bushies. I rest my case). I also love Biden's wife. She seems authentic.

And then we have our winner, who is not only intensely charismatic and capable and intelligent and a magnetic orator (and super duper handsome), but who ran, as he himself said, the best political campaign ever. If he runs this country with the intelligence and strategic acuity and steadfastness and nimbleness with which he ran his campaign, we may have a formidable president. For a spine-chilling comparison in leadership styles just think back to Hillary Clinton's debacle and/or the McCain campaign. Both seem rudderless and opportunistic and willing to shift and pander at any cost for the big prize. Meanwhile, "That One", breezes through on message, on point and without psychodrama. That's who we need at the helm.

I found it interesting that the victory music playing was no Motown or Stevie Wonder. It was a bombastic film score from John Williams for The Patriot. As an inside joke it works real well. But it is also a cunning choice because, like Obama's victory speech, it is about America, not about our different particularities. The Clintons used Fleetwood Mac (Don't Stop). It would have been a joyous get down and boogie had the Obamas used any of the magnificent music that is the African American legacy to this country, but it was politically right to use something generic, because this presidency, as Obama mentioned time and time again in the speech, needs to be about everybody, not about him being a Black man. Still, in the speech, he did not disappoint in this respect. Nobody can accuse this man of being an Oreo. The speech was perfectly nuanced between inclusiveness and the acknowledgment of his historical reality and its astounding implications for America and the world. When he mentioned what that 106 year old Black lady who got out and voted had been through to get to this day, through Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma (and I will add Katrina), he brought it all home.

But images can speak louder than words even as magnificent and adroit as our new President-Elect's. The faces in Grant Park, a veritable mosaic of color; the booing faces in Arizona, a sea of white. Guys, I have news for you: that is not America anymore. Hasn't been for a while now. America is more like Obama, an amalgam of races and nations and colors and creeds. Sasha and Malia beaming, their parents looking and acting like parents and like a couple. And I was surprised by Obama's gravitas, no doubt influenced by the sad loss of his grandmother, but also I'm sure by what he correctly deemed appropriate for the moment. He looks like a statesman, talks like a statesman and acts like a statesman. I'm in love.

I'm also in love with Michelle Obama. I can't wait for her to be the first lady. She rocks.

I have been reading the comments in the NY Times (the schmaltziness gets boring pretty fast). Apparently, Australians are uncommonly happy about the results. But I have not seen comments from Israel. Israel should be rejoicing just like the rest of the world. This man is committed to a foreign policy that will restore America's standing in the world and I'm sure this will include plans for a lasting peace in the Middle East (which means more peace for all the planet). Jews need to understand that he and Biden, not the macho bluster and evangelical craziness of Bush and the Satanic self-interest of Cheney, will be in the best interests of Israel and of the Palestinians.

Lastly, I heard the message that outgoing POTUS sent Obama. It sounded like a frat boy talking to a buddy. Awesome dude! I must agree, but it is so below the standards the occasion requires. Luckily, we can look forward to the winds of change from now on. Oh, happy day.

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