Well, it's over. I watched McCain's concession speech and it wasn't too bad. I don't fault McCain for running an overhwlemingly negative campaign. To be blunt, that was his only option. I suspect his campaign team came to him and said, "Do you want to try and win this thing or do you want to end up like Bob Dole in the history books?" Once he told them he wanted to be President, the campaign had its own momentum and he took a totally hands off, detatched approach. I do fault McCain for not being more actively involved in his own presidential campaign and a total lack of a coherent message. He seemed to stumble from one attack to another to another. Think about it...
First, he tried to make a mockery of Obama - the Britney Spears, Paris Hilton celebrity commercial. This wasn't that bad an idea. I think it was too "over the top" so they nixed it and moved on, possible prematurely.
Then, they went after an inner city black preacher who said "God Damn America!"
Then they tried the "he doesn't take a stand on tough issues." This had a TON of merit becuase he voted "present" so many times in the Senate. But they abandoned it way too quickly. Poor decision
Then, they went to the "he's too inexperienced and he has no executive experience." Once again, this had a certain degree of viability. But then McCain picked Palin and they couldn't pursue it further.
Then, they go back to the tired Republican refrain of "he'll raise your taxes and wants bigger government."
Then, he's going to meet unconditionally with third world tyrants and "cut and run" in Iraq
Then, in the waning days of the campaign, they got totally desperate. He's a socialist, has ties to a domestic terrorist and had the surrogates pull out the "Barrack Hussein Obama Muslim" innuendo.
There was NO coherent gameplan. The idea was to just throw everything but the kitchen sink at Obama and hope that something sticks. Their strategy was to turn the campaign into an American Idol competition - come up with some fun slogans (Drill Baby Drill) and create a mythical character (Joe the Plumber) for lower income people in the swing states to rally around. Basically, it just wasn't much of a strategy and there was no underlying theme. It's difficult to attack themes of hope and change, especially when your candidate is a political insider in his 70's. Once again, I don't fault McCain for the tenor of his campaign. He had to go overwhelmingly negative if he wanted a legitimate shot. But when the disgusting robocalls went out in the millions, I became thoroughly disgusted with McCain. You cannot, in good consience, send out millions of automated calls inferring that Obama is a terrorist and has terrorist connections. This is an incredibly dangerous precedent - Now, there's a statistically significant percentage of the population who can seize upon this absolute nonsense and use it to justify their future insidious actions. Trust me, they're out there and they're closer than you think.
Will Obama make a great president?
I think Obama is a great man, has shrewd politcal instincts, surrounds himself with incredibly forward thinking individuals, makes sound judgements, is an absolutely brilliant orator (exceeding both Clinton and Reagan), and legitmately wants to unite people rather than use the easier tactics of division. He's about as inspirational as you can possibly be without sounding silly. I think he knows that he must lead to the center and not the left. I also think he knows that although his victory could be considered a mandate, he will not treat it as such. But here's the problem... the Dems are solidly in. In the house and senate, they've got a perceived mandate and are anxious to retaliate for 8 years of Bush and the neocon policies. And there will be an assured tendency to overreach. Just because you elect a great man, doesn't necessarily guarantee a great presidency. It's impossible to change the culure of Washington DC works overnight. And I think Obama will have a difficult time controlling Pelosi, Reid, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Chuck Schumer and all the others. He might be able to reign in a few of them, but there are way too many egos and competing agendas. You have to pick your battles. But what happens when there are too many battles?
I suggest Obama reach out to the Republicans and perhaps select a few for key cabinet positions that share his general philosophy. Maybe a Chuck Hagel on foreign policy or maybe a relatively moderate Republican like Rob Portman to oversee budget & debt issues. Bring back Colin Powell in some capacity. This would infuriate the base Democrats in Congress but would play well with middle America.
I think Obama is a great man, but his presidency will be repeatedly tested. Our internal problems as a nation are far too challenging and complex and have existed for way too long. I also think Biden was right. There will soon come a major test in the form of an international incident during the transition period. Things have temporarily swung to the left, but everything always steers back to the middle. It's just the nature of the universe.
For now, I"ll celebrate the demise of George Bush and the right wingers. At the same time, I'll be cautiously optimistic of the new direction. And more importantly, I'll try not be naive.