In our month-long Ohio campaign for Obama, we drove 8,151 miles to, around, and back from the Buckeye state. It is now 28 days days since we pulled up stakes in Ohio for the ride home, and 55 days since we first arrived in the Ohio to begin our Last Hurrah on the political stump.
We savor every minute’s effort to eradicate Bush-Cheney-Rove politics and elect someone who excites us more than any candidate since JFK.
It seems like a year ago and yet like yesterday morning. [See more, below.]
Here’s a poll; state your prediction for the Obama presidency:
When Pennsylvania went blue that night, we leapt to our feet in our motel room and Sue wept for joy: McCain’s last, improbable path had been blocked. From that point on, we were lusting for a landslide and, out of pride, Ohio in indigo.
Our actor son, Kelly, performing at the Yale Repertory Theater, placed repeated backstage calls to us and his sister, Stacy, between scenes of the U.S. premiere of Happy Now? Kelly would give and get state-by-state updates, then ring off to run back onstage. (How could he remember his lines for godssakes?)
The Buckeye state went Obama. Stacy called. [She had organized local newspaper ads in Bozeman (signed by more than 800 residents) and canvassed for voter registration and get-out-the-vote.] Whatever she said was washed out by the din at the Bozeman headquarters. Everyone knew what Ohio meant.
When the West Coast came in, CNN threw the results on the screen with Barack’s photo. Each of us felt a spinal jolt as the historic thing we helped cause sunk in. He’ll take the oath in the 200th anniversary year of Lincoln’s birth, in an Inauguration with the theme, “A New Birth of Freedom.” Gives me gooseflesh thinking of it.
Then the hard part begins.
The solemnity of the acceptance speech at Grant Park suggests that he appreciates the gravity of his challenge, and the nation’s. This isn’t a naif from Plains, Georgia, who stood on a chair at Blair House to tell Democratic congressmen that he’d personally return their phone calls. Nor is the man’s subtle, nuanced mind likely to produce the economic non-sequiturs of Gerald Ford.
Against partisan foes, Obama’s rhetorical skills give him an air capability at least equal to Reagan’s, as one can observe from his victory speech in Iowa caucuses:
However, he yet must learn to master venues presidents use most–press conferences and from-behind-the-desk national TV addresses. On the other hand, Obama’s grassroots network gives him a potential ground force that no previous president possessed.
He’ll need it all and then some.
Team of rivals? God, I hope it works! With due respect to Doris Kearns Goodwin, it didn’t pan out so well for Lincoln.
Yet I feel optimism. One of my heroes, Vaclav Havel, defined optimism as “orientation,” not “prediction.”
The president-elect likely would have his own term: Audacity.
As the eight-year hostile occupation of America comes its end, I’ll cling to both.