After getting a total of about 7 hours of sleep over the past two nights, I should catch my breath. But there is something palpable today in Washington (and it's not simply the inability to find a newspaper). How long this excitement can last is unknown, but the opportunity the election of Barack Obama offers is something that we have not seen in a while. Remember, this is the first time since 1996 that we have known the winner of the presidential election on election night
. George W. Bush never got to celebrate until the next day in 2004 and (painfully) weeks later in 2000. And this is the first time a party has taken control of the White House with over 50% of the vote since 1980. I pray the Democrats use their power wisely.
A few thoughts:
1. For all the talk about GOP dominance in presidential elections, over the past 5 such elections, they have only won the popular vote once and none of their candidates received more than 286 electoral votes (both Bush '04). The Reagan coalition has long passed.
2. Barack Obama is George W. Bush's greatest achievement. Only with a presidency so disastrous would America be ready to elect an African-American named Barack Hussein Obama. To be sure, Obama could only have won because of his awesome political and oratorical skills and the running of a near flawless campaign, but Bush laid the groundwork to make this all possible. (He also made it virtually impossible for McCain to win.)
3. Nate Silver has entered my personal pantheon. He called virtually every state right
4. Shortest meeting in history--this year's conclave to name Time's Man of the Year.
5. Should the other cities just drop out of the competition for the 2016 Olympics now? The odds of it not going to Chicago are pretty, pretty low.
6. Speaking of Chicago, does Obama's
election mean it will get the 2012 Democratic Convention? It would make sense although Illinois is clearly not a swing state and using Denver this year was a boon in Colorado (although Obama would have won it anyway). Other possibilities--how about St. Louis--it borders Illinois, and Missouri was the one real swing state that Obama seems to have (very narrowly) lost. Charlotte? Atlanta? Heck, what about Phoenix--without McCain on the ticket, Arizona will be in play. Okay, I will now stop worrying about 2012.
7. I've mentioned it before, but I look forward to hearing Obama speak on February 12, 2009. No, I don't expect him to be wishing me an early birthday greeting. It is the bicentennial of the birth of Lincoln, and President Obama speaking on such an occasion in a sense says all that needs to be said of our greatest of presidents. (Obviously, the inaugural address has the potential to be an all time great.)
8. A shout out to one unsung hero of the election--Joe Biden
. Sure he had a few gaffes, but you knew those would happen. But this sober choice served in marked contrast to McCain's selection, and Biden
seems to have helped electorally in certain working class areas. Obama outperformed Kerry in Scranton and throughout NE Pennsylvania as well as in SE Ohio. (Did you know that Biden
was from Scranton?) Biden
spent a lot of time campaigning there, and it seems to have worked. And Biden
will offer none of the drama Hillary would have had she been VP. There will, of course, be Biden
putting his foot in his mouth from time to time, but right now he looks like the happiest man in America, and he has good reason to.
As I have been writing for the past few weeks, the implications of the election of Obama are amazing. Moreover, Obama has shown throughout
this campaign and well before, a steely temperament, a deep intelligence, and a desire for justice that this nation needs. He offers such great potential not because of his race, and yet the historic nature of his presidency offers him even greater opportunity. Once again, America represents to the world an idealized image a world an which any person can become president and where all men truly are equal. Sarah Palin
liked to talk about Reagan's shining city upon a hill. (Reagan was quoting John Winthrop, but I'm sure Palin
knew that.) But it was Obama's
election that has again made it so. Now, he must act to keep that shine.
Yes we did.