Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Obama, President-Elect of the United States(!)

First of all… Whew!

If you write, you kind of have to write on a day like this, an historic occasion if ever there was one. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall, this is something I never thought would happen in my lifetime, and it is due both to the moment and, significantly, to the extraordinary character of Barack.

Maybe it was close earlier, maybe the Democratic candidate would have won anyway just on the strength of being the Anti-Bush, but there were two factors that decisively tipped it Obama's way. McCain's choice of the beauty pageant queen for his VP did send the hearts of the faithful to flutterin', but once revealed in Katy Couric's pivotal interview, Mrs. Palin caused everybody else to seriously doubt his judgment, and turn even conservative stalwarts like Christopher Buckley (William F.'s son, no less,) against him.

The other, less self-inflicted blow (given his legislative participation in the debacle,) was that little dust-up recently in the markets, the timing of which turned out so poorly for his campaign. Once again, It Was The Economy, Stoopit.

Note, though, that the all-but-complete count as I write this is roughly 53 million Democratic votes vs. 46 million Republican. That many people, a little over 46 percent of the voting population, voted for the maverick military-man version of the same old thing.

So how wise has it been of Obama, even through his victory speech, to strike a conciliatory, inclusive tone, recognizing the strong, deep differences that divide the people in this country, even as we face the same set of problems -- excuse me, "challenges." (Because it turns out, it actually does make a difference how we phrase these situations to ourselves.)

Yes, I got the chills, again, from his acceptance speech, especially when the crowd kept calling back, "Yes, we can!"

Some favorite views of the day:

History in the making: News headlines across the US - slide show, Boston Globe

Reactions from around the world - slide show, Huffington Post

World welcomes Obama with open arms, demands - Amanpour,

What the world expects - BBC correspondents

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