November 5, 2008

President Obama

About eight months back, I was sitting in the Jordan House drinking with a bunch of writers I meet with. We call ourselves the JH Gang - how original. And to be truthful, I'm not an original, but I'm lucky enough to be included in their elite crew. It's about fun. And politics. And conversation. And Guiness on tap. After a couple of pints, I opined that I felt truly sorry for whoever won the U.S. election. Didn't matter who I liked or didn't like, didn't matter about sex or race or religion or, as Palin would soon introduce - species - it was sure that whoever won was going to be paddling a canoe through a sewer.

Anyway. We were talking politics, and as one of our august members is an American by origin, of course the rest of us seized on the opportunity to lambast him for his Republican ways. Stan's a helluva sport. A deluded sport, but hellish nonetheless. He dishes far worse than he endures, and I often find myself driving home, finally getting what it was he was talking about. The upside is he has a son in Berkeley who leans so far left he tugs his old man's needle out of the red zone.

It's no mystery I was rooting for Obama - it would appear that everyone was. But you know, that ol' electoral college thingee is misleading. Sure. 65 million Americans voted for him, but, hell, 55 million voted for McCain. There is much mudsliding shindigging going on, but I have this niggling little tick in my side that keeps saying '55 million - really??'

Here's the thing: I don't think Barack Obama is Obalma. That country, like so many, is so surely in the sh*tter for the next little while. And as the economy settled into a pit of despair, hauling the rest of the world down with it, it became more and more apparent to me that Obama was not just the man for the job, he was the only man for the job. I actually went from feeling sorry for whomever inherited the mantle to realizing that there is a reason this man is now wearing it.

Think about it. Whoever leads the United States for the next four years is going to have to have balls of steel. Who else is going to be able to deliver some hard truths to a nation mired in debt, despair and doubt? Who else is going to be able to tell them them are going to have to suffer more before they get hauled out? Who else can better tell them they are going to have to help themselves, do with less, do without and quit bitching?

This man. Finally, a president who can open his mouth without a silver spoon clattering out of it.

This is the difference between an Obama and a Stephen Harper. This is the reason Canadians have been so charged up for an election that technically isn't theirs. Is it some crazy romantic notion? Maybe for some. But when you can get 52% of a nation as historically divided on racial lines as the U.S. electing a black man to lead them, you have to admit that finally, the majority of them have put that aside.

But still, I come back to that 55 million. Man, that's a huge number. I've spent too many hours reading on sites of the right (for all of you that think I live in the left wing), and there is a serious disconnect that worries me. I don't have to share political views with someone to have a rapport with them (see: Stan, above - who, believe it or not, I adore), but I'll be damned if I can fathom the reasoning of some of the wingnuts with access to a modem. The difference I detect? A vehement, visceral hatred of the man coming from the right, compared to a total incomprehension of the right's approach to the issues coming from the left.

So I think Sarah Palin is an embarassment to women? She is to me. I deplore everything she stands for. But I also recognize she was totally used by the Republicans, and thrown away when it backfired. Do I feel sorry for her? No. She's 44, not 24, and her claws are sharper than Karl Rove's. But I've said it repeatedly: the Republican campaign was slimy and low. It was an appalling time at my dinner table, dissecting with my sons the crap thrown around by adults fighting to represent us. And yeah, Harper, I mean you too. You were vile.

In the end, it came down to many discussions about style on the right, and substance on the left. I'd frankly love if from now on, everyone had to wear a uniform (yay Rachel Maddow!), and be done with the stupid Barbie and Ken dress-up nonsense. Sweater vests or wardrobes from Saks, I'm not electing the clothes.

Here's a prediction: If those who voted against Obama shut up and listen for a moment, they might learn something. And if those who voted for him shut up and give him a chance to steer the ship, that whole country might right itself and sail to calmer waters. And with that ship goes much of the world, if only because they will be so relieved that the criminals of the past eight years have finally been tossed, no doubt leaving a string of pardons and bad laws behind them.

Here's to a balanced Supreme Court (yes, courts around the world cite judgments from that one - if only they could be convinced to return the favour), a return to a man of the people as opposed to a man in contempt of the people, and a leader who isn't having his strings pulled by a patriarchy of evil warmongers who should have to serve the rest of their lives in a jail they created - if Obama doesn't close it first. The Evil Lorraine would so like to size Cheney up for prison issue duds from Guantanomo Bay...but I digress.

Obama has much to undo. There will be few changes overnight, but here's hoping he chooses brilliant minds to assist him and maintains the razor focus that got him this far.

I've heard comments that McCain's concession speech was more moving than Obama's winner's words. I believe that. Sometimes I think Obama is the only one who realizes how much work there is to be done, and just how tough it's going to be. Actually, I think McCain knows. And maybe there was more than a little relief wound into his words.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If people are expecting some kind of 1000 days miracle, they will be disappointed. Obama is a human being. Mistakes will be made. I believe he will be good in the long run for America. The Republican Party is too old, too concerned about guns, god and (their) money.As for the 55 million, so what? There were more for the Democrats. That's politics.

November 05, 2008 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Abe Lincoln, a Republican said,

"I don't like that man, I must get to know him better. "

A good philosophy to keep in mind
during times like these.

Lincoln abolished slavery - with an African American now president elect, finally the shackles of racism are coming off.


November 06, 2008 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been shocked since the U.S. election when friends I've always considered smart tell me Obama is a mistake and they would have voted for more of the McSame. It makes me rethink talking about politics with some people (which I love to do). There is no magic to this, just lots of hard work and corner cutting. Whole new world for some. It'll be an adventure.

November 06, 2008 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama didn't have a silver spoon in his mouth? Oh please. His early education was at the famous Punahou prep school, "which is probably more dominant in the social structure of Hawaii than any other prep school in America is in its respective state". This was followed by a BA at Columbia and then Harvard. Those schools aren't exactly community colleges. Growing up in Hawaii was a lot easier for him than growing up anywhere else in the CONUS would have been as Hawaii is a richly multicultural place. This isn't to detract from his achievements but it's not like he grew up as a poor sharecropper in Georgia. Even Bill Clinton had a tougher road to the presidency than did Obama. He's been put so high on the pedestal that people are going to be quickly disappointed.

November 06, 2008 4:39 PM  

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