Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sitting in a hotel room on the evening after a historic election in America.

I’m in Ft. Worth, Texas, for a business meeting. I’m not really sure when I will have the opportunity to actually post this, as I am not equipped for wireless. “Where were you, granddad, when President Obama was elected?” “Ft. Worth, Texas, grandson. I remember it well, never forget it. I had the greasy pork chops.” You might guess that this is not the place I would have chosen to be during such an amazing evening. But, that is where I was. I could have been glued to the television all evening at home as well as here. My only real annoyance is that my hotel (in Texas, remember) did not have MSNBC. I ended up flipping between PBS and CNN. I really wanted to hear what Rachel had to say.

What an amazing thing we just saw. I was just in awe at some of the pictures that were shown and some of the numbers as they coming in. Obama won the District of Columbia something like 97% to 3%, and he carried some traditional “red” states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana. I am not black, so I know, without a doubt, that I don’t have any clue about the emotions that black people in America were feeling last night. I had some tears in my eyes when I saw pictures of black women, young and old, jumping up and down, hugging each other and crying. I had a broad smile that lasted for a long time when I saw pictures of people of all shapes, sizes and colors, celebrating their victory, our victory, or listening in rapt attention to President Elect Obama’s speech. The fact that he is a black man both did and did not matter, at the same time, which is quite an accomplishment on his part.

This is a historic moment in American history, and not too many people are trying to dismiss it as anything less than one of the more important events that have happened in this generation. I lived in Alabama and Mississippi during the 1970’s. There was a restaurant in my little town that still had “White Only” and “Black Only” signs over its outside service windows. White girls going out on a date with black boys at the high school in the town next to mine was a cause for not just concern, but out and out panic and a demand for immediate action. I missed the terrible events of Birmingham and Philadelphia, Mississippi by only a handful of years. So, I feel I have a little understanding about just how historic last night was.

We grew up a bit as a nation yesterday. Oh, I have no delusions about the sorry state of race relations in the country. However, this may go a long way to working those issues out. This is Jackie Robinson playing for the Dodgers raised to the nth power. Many people are saying much about what this means, and I am not going to pretend I am adding anything to that conversation. These are just my private thoughts. But watching the statements of both Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, both Republicans, was quite amazing. They knew what this meant, and were not shy about saying it. I swear that Dr. Rice’s voice was quivering. (On a tangential thought, I am sure she will make a fine President of Football Operations for the San Francisco 49’ers. You go, girl!)

Here are some other random thoughts, in no particular order.

For all the joy and feelings of good will that was bouncing around last night, there are still some very unhappy people in this country. The person I rode into work with this morning is one of them. He was saying how upset he was and how stupid the people of this country are. He predicted “dire things” will happen, but never really specified what these might be. My only response was something along the lines of, “Hey, given how strong your feelings are about this, I am not about to change your mind in 30 seconds. But given what George Bush and the Republicans have done to this country in the last eight years, I would have thought that you might be happy with a change.” But some people are so set in their ways, all they can see is “socialist” or “tax and spend liberal”, or even “terrorist sympathizer.” I am very discouraged that there are so many people like that in this country. I feel sorry for them, really, which would no doubt really piss them off further. But really, how closed minded do you have to be to still think those things of the President Elect if you have ever watched a single speech or debate? Where are these outlandish opinions coming from? Well, I know where they come from, but why do people still feel that way after almost two years of campaigning?

Television coverage… Well, like I said, I really would have rather watched MSNBC. PBS was O.K. It certainly was more low key and less high tech than CNN. CNN, just like most of our society, seems to be all about splashy, attention demanding high tech glitzy… diversions. CNN is much too enamored of their cute graphics, touch screens, whizzing in-and-out captions (with very loud sound effects). That 3-D “holographic interview room” was just incredibly lame. Jeez. We want to know the details about the election, not how cute your graphics department boys can get. Wolf Blitzer really is a dope sometimes, and he doesn’t ad-lib very well at all. At one point, he got all excited with the next round of states where the polls had just closed, and he said something like “now here are the latest projections of our projections.” Yep, got a little tripped up there, Wolf. I was actually impressed that PBS had David Brooks of the NY Times on as the conservative analyst, opposite the liberal analyst Mark Shields, and “Bobo” Brooks was actually very good. He doesn’t have a very good reputation among the progressive bloggers, as he is known for putting forth some pretty specious arguments and for being, at times, very intellectually dishonest. But last night, he was great. He was very up-front about what a great night it was for Obama and the Democrats and how many problems that the Republican Party faces. I may have to reassess his columns in the NYT. At least, until he turns into a twat again. Then, I reserve the right to, once again, change my mind.

I thought the concession speech by John McCain was very gracious and sincere. Where has this guy been for the last eight months? I don’t believe that a gracious concession speech is enough to clear his name, after all the things he tried to fling at Obama in this campaign. I hope John McCain does some long, deep soul-searching in the next few months. Perhaps he might start asking himself questions like, how he ended up so far astray from the values that he says he cherishes. Even George Bush said some very nice things about the President Elect and his family. Again, that in no way excuses what he has subjected this country to, but it was nice to hear him say something gracious and not say something really stupid like “nook-you-lar” or “the Democrat Party.”

Here’s another off-the-top-of-my-head thought… If the networks are reporting that the wife of one of the two candidates in a presidential election are reporting was seen in tears a few hours before the first polls have closed, then perhaps it probably is going to be a long night for that particular candidate. Wife… tears… not a happy time. They probably weren’t arguing about whether John keeps forgetting to put the toilet seat down.

Here’s another one for you. I really, really, REALLY hope that Sarah Palin becomes the most visible face of the Republican Party. If she does, I think the party will fracture into two pieces. I don’t think the big business, small government types in the party are going to let the lunatics run the asylum. Oh, they’re fine to rile up when they need the “value voters” to come out in force on Election Day. But they really don’t want them to actually set the agenda for the party. If that happens, I think the Republican Party is doomed, as it currently exists. Now, I am of the opinion that this country needs two strong political parties, if for no other reason than to keep each other in check. A country with only a single strong party is just asking to become the next Soviet Union. But this concept really only works well if both parties really sort of play by some sort of established rules and don’t really try, like the Karl Rove-led Bushies did, to smash the Democrats and cast them into the political backwaters of this country for years to come. That ain’t kosher. But, it won’t bother me in the least if the current brand of Republicanism is totally discredited. Let them spend a generation in the hinterlands, a regional party made up of the old Confederacy and a few other sparsely populated Rocky Mountain states. They can be the Party That Says Not Only No, But Hell No!! Let’s see how that suits them for a while. Maybe they will eventgually get their act together and start acting in the best interests of this country, rather than to enrich themselves and to gain total political domination in perpetuity. Go, Sarah, go! See how much of an embarrassment you can actually be at the TOP of the ticket, instead of as number two!

Lastly, I am sooooo glad this election is finally over. I was so burned out, and yet, so scared at the same time. I just could not imagine what this country would be if McCain and Palin were in charge for four years. I am so relieved that it is over and the outcome has been all that I could have wished. Oh, there were several races that I sure wish had turned out differently (e.g., Michelle Bachman and James Inhofe), but for the most part, this was pretty good.

I am just wondering how Medgar Evers and Dr. King would have felt today. Pretty damn good, I would think.

I am very proud of this country today. I can actually believe that maybe, just maybe, brighter days really are ahead of us.

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