The Morning After

Some commentary on the night just past. This will be somewhat scattered, as I stayed up until 1 to hear Obama and read the celebratory postings at my favorite left-leaning blogs:

— As much as I believed what folks like Nate Silver were saying, I was still afraid that it would somehow all go wrong, and we’d be subjected to another four years of lunatic governance from the right, and lunatic conspiracy theorizing from the left. It’s hard to express how happy I am to put all of the lunacy on one side of the political spectrum, the side that’s out of power.

— I guess people aren’t as down on socialism as they used to be.

— On a similar note, thank God we’re finally done with the Sixties. I am sick to death of elections turning on ridiculous cultural squabbles over things that happened before I was born.

What John said, particularly the last point:

5. Last night’s election didn’t change the country; it offered a chance for the country to change. Which is something Obama himself pointed out last night, because he’s a smart man like that. He will effect some of that change through the power of the presidency, and through his relationship with Congress, but ultimately what will change things is whether people want change and are willing to work for it. Elections are the easy part, basically. Now comes the work. As the saying goes, you have been offered a country, if you can keep it. It’s up to you more than it’s up to your next president.

— I was a little surprised that McCain conceded as early as he did– I expected things to drag out a little longer. The (relatively) early concession probably indicates that all the talk about secret internal polls showing them leading in key states was just bluster. They knew they were going to lose all along.

— I was even more surprised at how classy McCain’s speech was, compared to most of the rest of his campaign. He managed to salvage a little dignity. Not much, but a little.

— The crowd at McCain’s concession doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for the future of the Republican party. And booing his perfunctory congratulations to Obama– all class. At least golf clap like the folks in Chicago did.

— Obama’s victory speech, in contrast, was pretty impressive, and the crowd was amazing. They didn’t hit the million people some commentators were predicting, but it was really something to see that giant sea of people turned out in the cold to see him talk. And he does give a great speech. It’ll be nice to have a president with some rhetorical skills.

— I avoided any and all cable news until after the race was called for Obama, and even then, I went to C-SPAN for the coverage of his victory speech, so I didn’t have to listen to the yammering of the idiot pundits on MSNBC and CNN. And even on C-SPAN, I couldn’t dodge the crazy– after the speech, they took calls from voters, and one of the very first was a female McCain supporter who trotted out all the crazy conspiracy stuff in the book– Obama’s birth certificate, ACORN, ties to “radicals,” the works.

— The next four years will be a long slog, because a lot of things are seriously broken in our government right now, and because a sizable chunk of the population is just flat crazy. Obama seems to be aware of this, though, and if he can hold together the coalition and organization he built for this campaign, there’s reason to hope. He won’t be able to fix everything, but he can at least get us headed in the right direction.

And that thought will keep a smile on my face all day.


  1. #1 Uncle Al
    November 5, 2008

    Don’t get all warm and fuzzy. Obama is burned by Bush the Lesser’s debts and tyrannies. He must be a Great President or he will be tarred and feathered. He must replace entrenched Washington junkyard dogs with his own people or he will be stabbed in the back until he has no back. As with all conflicts, the first task is slaughter.

    The Presidential seal is an American eagle holding an olive branch in one talon and and 13 arrows in the other. Over more than two centuries the olive branch placed on enemies’ graves was always the right thing to do. Obama has the demonstrated capacity to be intelligent and suave. Now we will see if he can be effective.

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    November 5, 2008

    I can’t comment on the speeches (I haven’t heard either one), but I generally agree with the rest of what you said here. The last eight years have been hard for the reality-based community, and now we have a chance to step back from the brink.

    New Hampshire was a solidly Republican state as recently as 2002. But most of the Republicans around here were either libertarian or business conservatives, which groups the Republican Party has largely abandoned. (Not just here: my parents were moderate Republicans, but now my mother refuses to vote for anybody with an (R) next to his name.) 2006 was a ray of hope when the Dems knocked off both incumbent Congresscritters here as well as many others, but the leadership has been disappointing to say the least. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, we have another chance to get on the right track.

    The media gasbags both nationally and locally will mostly continue to resist–my three word response to anyone who claims the media are liberal is “Manchester Union Leader” (the typical editorial position of the only statewide newspaper is slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun). But their power is on the wane, too.

  3. #3 Alex
    November 5, 2008

    As a member of “that giant sea of people”, it really wasn’t that cold. Maybe low 60s? High 50s? Chilly, sure, but not cold enough to drive people away from something like this.

  4. #4 Neil B
    November 5, 2008


    In my area of VA, Democrats celebrated in the Hampton Holiday Inn. Cautiously optimistic as the electoral votes started rolling in, we really got a lift and reinforced hope when Pennsylvania went to Obama. Not a big surprise, but it meant that McCain had a tough fight. Then around 23:00 Virginia was called for Obama and the crowd went wild, and almost as if on cue for followup: Obama projected as US President 2008! What joy, relief, and (for the mostly black crowd) pride. I exchanged many a high-five and even some fist bumps and hip style handshakes. Obama’s proud but conciliatory speech was very stirring, it said just what needed saying. Congratulations, baby! John McCain gets credit for a gracious concession speech and for supplying a colorful character into the public eye (now safe to chuckle over.)

    For those of us who worked to canvass and register voters, it was especially poignant and rewarding to have won Virginia. I didn’t do as much as I could have. Still, it helped and that made me feel a part of history not just for the USA and the world, but my state as well. The young “kids” who had been organizing for Obama around here were happy but dazed, as if they couldn’t believe it. We had record voter turnout, I don’t have exact figures yet.

    And now, it is still “Yes we can” to solve America’s problems and pitch in for the world as well. We all have to pitch in. BTW I am hopeful that Obama will have a good science policy, such an improvement over the Bush years and likely McCain plans. One thing he needs to do, is pull the plug on the expensive and increasingly rickety Moon/Mars human exploration program while keeping Americans able to enter Earth orbit. How do we do that?

  5. #5 Jamie Bowden
    November 5, 2008

    Holy shit, Uncle Al made a comment that was coherent and relevant. It’s also not wrong. My biggest concern, aside from some dumb ass redneck shooting him, is that he’s not attuned all that well to how Washington works. He hasn’t been around that long and has spent a lot of his time working on winning last night. For all that people think they want an outsider in the Beltway, they couldn’t be more wrong. Nothing happens in this town unless you play bit its rules.

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