Prior to November 4, I had been filled with nerves and trepidation regarding the future of this country. I had, for the most part, ignored politics for years, especially after the 2000 election as I believed and still believe, that the Republican machine intentionally and knowingly, stole it from the Democrats.
Then, I woke up. Sarah Palin was on a stage with John McCain, and she set off every alarm in my being. From the first minute that I saw her and listened to her speak, I understood that she was a phony, a straw man set up by McCain to lure the disappointed Hillary supporters.
That's when I began political blogging, and I turned my support from Hillary to Obama, as with McCain's nomination of Sarah Palin, I finally understood that John McCain was not just a poor second to Hillary, but that he was nothing more than a scared, egotistical little man who would sell out his country for a chance at the power of the presidency, and I knew that we must defeat him for ourselves, our children, and our country.
I was only too right. There is little that he did not do during the presidential campaign of 2008 in order to win, and in fact, he became a very small and despicable caricature of himself by the end of it. As for Sarah Palin, she is simply a disgrace, and a horrible caricature of a woman in public life.
And so just when you no longer believed that there was any justice to be had in the world, "That One" beat McCain without resorting to lies, calling up racist fears at his rallies, and without going after the families and friends of his opponents. What a novel idea. Behave as a human being whose refusal to give in to those who slandered him made him a much loved figure who was duly elected to the office of the president.
So we won, and I have been on pins and needles ever since. Perhaps because I was afraid that my faith in Obama was misguided, that he would not be able to do what was needed to pull us out of the mess that the Republicans had created. [If you are cringing at that statement, watch this video, and you will understand.] Time dragged very slowly from November 5 up until just a few days ago. And now I am almost certain. Barack Obama will, and he can.
Who is Andrew Sullivan and what has he got to do with Obama?
I read a conservative blog on a daily basis, not because I am checking out the "opposition", but because I truly enjoy his writing, and more often than not, surprisingly, our views coincide. The blog is The Daily Dish, written by Andrew Sullivan, and it is a part of The Atlantic, the conservative magazine.
Andrew Sullivan is a conservative, or so he says, but I see him more as a moderate with some liberal leanings. He was a Bush supporter until he came to realize what Bush was all about, and he said in a post the other day that he is very ashamed of having been.
I bring Mr. Sullivan up today because he wrote a piece about Obama on Sunday for the UK paper, The Times, and after reading it, it all came together for me in a way that it hadn't before. I now believe, and probably don't fully understand it, that the election of Barack Obama is even now the catalyst for a paradigm shift in the world. I think that he will surprise many, and I believe that we will all be much better off for it.
Some of the things that Mr. Sullivan wrote in the Times piece, struck me as being so essentially truthful, I am sharing them with you.
“Obama has an old soul's perspective.”, he wrote. I couldn't agree more. I think it is part of why he is so loved. “”
Mr. Sullivan goes on to say that “Obama acts like a kind of antacid to the American stomach. He has walked through the churn of racial and cultural and religious polarisation and somehow calmed everyone down.”, which struck me as so completely true and well-stated.
And on the crisis that Obama faced last year with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, Mr. Sullivan writes of Obama's touching and painful speech.
“Last spring he faced his biggest crisis — the exploitation by the Republican right of his incendiary former pastor Jeremiah Wright, a man whose penchant for polarisation was pathological. At a moment of extreme emotion and political peril, Obama found a way to give a speech that remains the greatest of recent times, to remind Americans of their complex and painful racial past, and not to condescend or cavil. The intellectual achievement of the speech was impressive enough — sufficient to provoke Garry Wills, the Lincoln scholar, to compare it to the Gettysburg address. That Obama wrote and delivered it as he heard in his ears every racial stereotype that had pummelled his psyche for his entire life bespoke an emotional maturity that still shocks.”
Obama's intellectual acuity is quite obvious, but Mr. Sullivan points as well to his emotional intelligence, something which is sometimes given short shrift, but is just as important as intellectual acuity.
“He doesn’t charm like Clinton did and Bush tried to. Unlike both men, but especially Clinton, he appears to have no need to be loved by everyone in the room. He often finds it hard to disguise how tired he feels. He is capable of evoking enormous inspiration, but he has yet to be able to hide it when he is bored. There is a wryness to his conversation and a dryness to his humour, both of which are sustained by an intellect of power. The revered liberal jurist Larry Tribe has said that in decades of teaching at Harvard Law School, he has never had a cleverer student than Obama. I don’t think he’s exaggerating. Intellectually, Obama is in Bill Clinton’s league. But what he has over Clinton is emotional intelligence to buttress his grasp of policy.”
Mr. Sullivan goes on to speculate as to the kind of president Obama might be, what he may do as the president, and covers both domestic issues and foreign policy in a manner so astute, his article is likely to be discussed for a long time to come. That said, do take the time to read it as I can't post it all here, as much as I might like to, but I did want to point out what Mr. Sullivan thinks may happen in so far as prosecution of Bush and company is concerned.
“Will there be prosecutions for war crimes? Obama will not embrace that as a programme. But he is a former president of the Harvard Law Review and a teacher of constitutional law. If evidence of war crimes emerges, he will not prevent his attorney-general from prosecuting, as he must. The law grinds on — and as the Bush torture era recedes, my bet is that it will grind rather relentlessly.”
And he says of Obama on Bush's mockery of the constitution that “what concerns Obama most of all is the Bush assertion of inherent constitutional powers to designate any human being — citizen or non-citizen, in America or anywhere else — as an “enemy combatant” and to detain them indefinitely without trial and torture them at will. This, the president-elect fully understands, is in effect the abolition of the constitution. He will take an oath on Tuesday to protect that constitution, not eviscerate it in the tradition of his predecessor.”
In closing, Mr. Sullivan speaks of the hope that we see in Obama.
“There is something about Obama’s willingness to give others credit, to approach so many issues with such dispassionate pragmatism, and to shift by symbols and speeches the mood and tenor of an entire country that gives one a modest form of optimism. Even now, as the outlook seems so dark, and as the inheritance seems so insuperable, three words linger in the mind.
Yes, he can. And two words echo back at me.
Can we? ”
Yes, Mr. Sullivan, we can and will.
IPD Note: Upon watching Obama speak at the 2004 DNC, my Father, a genuine political pundit, informed myself and my brothers that Barack Obama would be the first African-American president. Good call, Dad. ;)