Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama - #44

We could've done much, much worse.

Yeah, he's another Democrat, but he's made comforting noises about being a Free Trader.
Yeah, he's got a Chicago background (with all that THAT implies), but other than Tony Rezko, there don't seem to be any other sleazy deals in his background.
He's got a law degree, but seems to have done no harm with it.
He's never really had to run anything, but he put together the most efficient campaign in U.S. history.

We could do much, much worse.

Today's editorial pages will probably be filled with crusty old farts telling stories about when black America didn't have the same legal status as white America.
Here are some of mine:
In the Deep South, there was something called "The Code", a set of largely unwritten customs designed to keep whites at the top of the food chain. For instance, white people usually came into town to do their shopping on Saturday morning. Black people had the afternoon. This helped avoid the awkwardness of both races waiting in the same checkout line.

Up until 1975, the doctor's office in my hometown had waiting rooms labeled as "White" and "Colored" until someone threw bricks through the windows. The windows changed, but the tradition continued until my doctor retired. Public water fountains would've been such a source of controversy that....we didn't have any.

I don't remember how I learned about this one, and I'm going to use it as a somewhat awkward analogy: It was once a major Code violation for black people to pass white people on the highway. Think about the symbolism in that one. No matter how slowly a white driver was travelling, black drivers weren't supposed to pass them.
Back in the late 1950's, a black man once passed the (white) patriarch of a family whose farm was near ours. The old white guy chased the black guy down, made him pull over, and explained to him that he'd lived 65 years without being passed by a black man (I'm using a euphemism here), and he didn't plan to start allowing it to happen anytime soon.

Barack Obama was up against a couple who owned the Democratic Party. Hillary thought the nomination was her birthright. The word "inevitability" was thrown around a lot, but Obama passed them.
Because he was the better candidate. That's all that it came down to. The Clinton's campaign manager was a little fuzzy on whether California was a winner-take-all state. They didn't have anything in place for the states after Super Tuesday. Bill wouldn't shut up. Therefore, Obama passed them.
Despite his P.O.W. status, and despite his experience in the Senate, John McCain was driving too slowly to stay in front of Barack Obama. Obama didn't just pass the old white guy, he passed him like he was going the other direction.
And while I don't think Obama will be a better president than McCain, Obama ran a much better campaign.

Here's the best thing about it....Barack Obama didn't run as The Black Candidate. He didn't go around the country saying "it's our turn". Other than one offhand remark that he didn't look like the presidents who are on our currency, he kept race out of the election as much as anyone could have.

His argument was that he was the one best suited for the job. And the fastest driver got to the finish line first.


On another note, I thought McCain's concession speech last night may have been the best of its kind. Incredibly gracious.

Obama's acceptance speech was good, but I didn't think it was his best. (This one is my favorite.) His rhetoric is part of what got him this far, and it's something we can look forward to hearing more of when he's president.

Overall, this is a good day. Obama's got a clean slate to work with, most of his opponents are going to be giving him the benefit of the doubt for at least a week, a shameful chapter of our history has come to and end, and....

I don't feel obligated to end any more posts with the words "Go Bob Barr !"


Nick M said...

Allen, OK, It'as your country and all but I can't see Obama as being anything other than an utter disaster.

He has shifted the USA dramatically to the left.

You're Europe now you know.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Admittedly, this post was a rare moment of sentimentality on my part.

As our broadcasters say in the U.S., "we apologize for the intteruption, and tomorrow, we will return to our regular scheduled programing."

One day this week, we'll be looking at Obama's best choices for cabinet positions. Should be memorable.

fembuttx said...

All I can say, it took you long enough to post it....I'll bet you were crying in your triple espresso because Bob Barr did not win.....

Dr Ralph said...

I caught an interview with one of Barack and Michelle Obama's Harvard law professors, who said when they were in graduate school he assumed they were Republicans.

My gut feeling is Obama is enough of a pragmatist that we'll see him tack to the center on a lot of issues.