Expectations and Advice
A new president canâ€™t come into office without enormous expectations about how things will change and there will always be plenty of people to give advice.
Some of those who would give advice are Concern Trolls, though, and should be ignored.
State Department. Do not appoint Bill Richardson
Also, do not appoint John Kerry.
Also, do not appoint Anthony Lake.
Supreme Court. Do not appoint Hillary Clinton.
Treasury Department. Do not appoint former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Lawrence Summers.
Energy Department. Do not appoint Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Environmental Protection Agency or Interior Department. Do not hire Robert Kennedy Jr. H
Defense Department. Do not reappoint Robert Gates.
Attorney General. Do not appoint Jamie Gorelick.
Vice President. Not Joe Biden.
Obama will need to bear all of this in mind in the years ahead as he comes under pressure from some factions of the Democratic Party hoping to translate his mandate into a Rooseveltian expansion of government. Such an expansion would severely undermine America's ability to compete in the global marketplace, and the impressive coalition that he has put together would not last his administration.
Mr. Obama inherits a terrible legacy. The nation is embroiled in two wars â€” one of necessity in Afghanistan and one of folly in Iraq. Mr. Obamaâ€™s challenge will be to manage an orderly withdrawal from Iraq without igniting new conflicts so the Pentagon can focus its resources on the real front in the war on terror, Afghanistan.
1. America's political and pundit class will go through a clinical bout of ideological amnesia.
2. The Culture Wars will be reignited.
3. Liberals and conservatives will continue to try and define everything in terms of right and left.
Guns, God and gays will not disappear from our politics. But they are diminished as electoral weapons as the country confronts a new generation of disputes: global warming, mortgage meltdowns and the detention of terrorism suspects, to name a few.
Quickly there was a question as to whether Obama had earned a mandate (as Bush claimed in 2004 with a much slimmer victory), or if the country was really center-right and acting foolishly. Mandate or no mandate?
This is why conservatives were so adamant about claiming a mandate in 1980 and in 2004 - they understood its critical connection to policy. This is also why Establishment voices are so adamant about downplaying a mandate today - because the empirical data from the election suggests that 2008 provided an overwhelmingly anti-Establishment mandate on everything from financial regulation, to trade, to health care to the Iraq War. If that mandate is permitted to be recognized, acknowledged and appreciated in the public debate, it might force significant policy change on those issues.
Senator Obama, who has the most liberal voting record of any current US senator, is well to the left, according to all polls, of most Americans. He is surging toward the unusual feat of being elected even though most of his countrymen are ideologically closer to his chief opponent.
Here we areâ€“ we, the people in Grant Park; we, the people of the United States; we, the people of the world. Here we are, and none of usâ€“ not even and especially the man on the stage, the man just elected to be the 44th presidentâ€“ can be sure of what lies ahead.
But his manner before crowds and his face in photographs seem even farther out of reach than usual...On the night of his landslide victory over Hoover, in 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt had an intimate conversation with his son James,â€œYou knowâ€¦all my life I have been afraid of only one thingâ€”fire. Tonight I think Iâ€™m afraid of something else. Iâ€™m just afraid that I may not have the strength to do this jobâ€¦I am going to pray. I am going to pray that God will help me, that he will give me the strength and the guidance to do this job and to do it right. I hope that you will pray for me, too.â€
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Why McCain Lost
As I read often during the election (usually in reference to criticism of the McCain campaign), when you win, you have run a perfect campaign without any problems. When you lose, you have run the most disastrous political campaign of all time. It's easy to pick at mistakes McCain made because they seemed to have such a huge effect. Conversely, it's hard to find any mistakes Obama made, because he won despite them. How much this accounts for the reaction to McCainâ€™s campaign is somewhat debatable, though, because there were a lot of times his campaign seemed completely unhinged. Here are some thoughts on how McCain lost and what now for the GOP.
The GOP was defeated soundly by the Democrats almost across the board. What should they do now? A discussion between Tucker Carlson, Ross Douthat, Douglas W. Kmiec, Jim Manzi, Kathleen Parker, and Christine Todd Whitman. Some of the ideas are better schools, better immigration responses, and a constitutional amendment dictating life begins at conception. And then the discussion devolves into Ross Douthat excoriating Doug Kmiec. Thus making clear the issues the GOP has going forward - their coalition is falling apart. Tucker Carlson says, â€œOnce the party figures out what it's forâ€”or more precisely, againstâ€”it ought to stick to its storyâ€. The problem with this line is that people are tired of being against things, they want to be FOR things. Kerry ran the Anybody But Bush campaign in 2004 and it failed to capture anyoneâ€™s imagination. Obama ran by telling people what he was for and got a response from everybody under 65.
In the last few days, I have seen remarks to the effect that â€œanti-Palinâ€ conservatives are going to end up feeling foolish in the future for having doubted her qualifications, but with every passing day and each new revelation I am even more convinced that everyone who criticized her fairly on her record and statements will have no reason to feel that way.
On November 4, two thirds of voters under 30 voted for Obama. Thatâ€™s the future. A large majority of voters with college educations voted for Obama. That represents the best informed segment of the electorate. So, how did everything go wrong for the Republicans?
Pat Buchanan doesnâ€™t think Obama won so much as McCain lost, or something like that.
If, as Mark Steyn says, "Any shrill vicious ad hominem invective would be much better directed at each other. The Republicans lost this election," then I am not sure why the congratulations to the Obama campaign.
In the 2000 primaries, McCain played victim to the savageries of his own party. George Bush's camp orchestrated a fallacious push poll in South Carolina suggesting that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child. In order to raise the level of debate, McCain pulled his negative ads, lost South Carolina, and ultimately the primary.
This disastrous defeat can and will be laid at the feet of the Big Government corporate Republicans, who abandoned the Reagan Coalition, massively expanded government, and ignored the needs and values of regular, grassroots Americans. They protected Wall Street and K Street and forgot about Main Street.
Of course, there is one way in which this makes sense. McCain, itâ€™s always seemed to me, is at heart someone who loves the idea of what the Japanese call the â€œnoble failure.â€ I donâ€™t think his campaign was noble. But his farewell was.
As Kristol used column after column to boost Sarah Palin, suspicions built inside the campaign that Kristol and McCain staffers close to him had written off McCain and were now determined to salvage Palin as a vehicle for Republican politics in the future, possibly the Republican nomination in 2012.
Still, as her former running mate would say, the fundamentals of Sarah Palin are strong. Her conservative detractorsâ€”Colin Powell, David Brooks, and Christopher Buckley among themâ€”were put off not by her personality but rather her lack of knowledge about certain national and foreign-policy issues. Such deficiencies can be addressed easily. Meanwhile, to use another McCainism, Palin was a surge for the ticket. Rally attendance skyrocketed. Approval ratings went up. Palin's convention speech attracted more viewers than Obama's. "I'll take it," said McCain adviser Mark Salter, looking back.
Sarah Palin's selection as John McCain's running mate redefined how vice-presidential candidates influence a campaign. Unfortunately for McCain, the Alaska governor hurt his presidential bid more than she helped.
Obama and his supporters decried McCainâ€™s tactics. Yet some of the strongest criticism came from people whom McCain revered or who had long revered him. And it was not merely about strategyâ€”the backbiting that always consumes losing campaigns. It was about the very nature of John McCain. In their eyes, at least, their hero was losing not only an election but his reputationâ€”or, as one prominent backer put it, â€œhis soul.â€
(1) Oppose Obama, Not America
(2) No Chicken-Hawking
(3) Don't Question The Verdict
(4) Don't Blame The Voters
(5) Don't Get Mad, Get Even
(6) We Play For 2010, Not 2012
(8) Watch Your Budget
(9) Grow A Thick Hide and Get Your Taxes in Order
(10) Buy More Life Insurance
(12) Get On Living
So take today and rest. I canâ€™t blame you. In the mean time I will stand watch on the front. I will fight the fight while you re-energize. Iâ€™ll still be here when you come back. And when you do come back, you can stand on either hand and continue to keep this bridge with me. Iâ€™ll rest when Iâ€™m dead. At RedState, we fight on.
Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right. This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."
Though, itâ€™s possible Bush didnâ€™t work THAT hard to earn the support saying the very next day, â€œLet me put it to you this way. I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style.â€ Iâ€™d like to take this opportunity to suggest to the WSJ that the governing style detailed in this quotation earned him exactly what he got and more.
During this time of transition, I will keep the president-elect fully informed on important decisions.
And video of it.
McCainâ€™s concession was gracious. His supporters, not so much.
"In four years, you're not going to recognize this country," said John Torgan, 63, a retired military bombmaker. "I've spent half my life in the military. This is not good. (Obama) comes from the cesspool we call Chicago."
But after booing Obama's name and offering a few jeers, the crowd came to recognize the history in the evening when McCain paid tribute to the nation's first black president by recalling his own favorite commander-in-chief.
McCainâ€™s concession was gracious and went a long way towards redeeming him in the eyes of many (including me) who thought his campaign was not up to the honorable standards he set for himself. Iâ€™ll always remember him silencing the crowd who began booing when he mentioned Obamaâ€™s name. TIME said:
The speech also evoked a constant theme of McCain's life, his absolute conviction in his own personal fortune, a run of luck that allowed him to survive five and a half years of imprisonment in Vietnam, multiple cancer scares, and repeated brushes with death as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot. "I have always been a fortunate man," he said.
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How Obama Won
Everyone had an opinion on how Obama won. My take is that if you put a party in power that doesn't believe government is the answer to problems for people, they're going to work to prove that. The GOP did their best to bankrupt the country over the last eight years, and the country finally had enough.
Barack Obama earned his ticket to the Oval Office by running a technically near-flawless campaign, dominating three debates and picking a vice president, Joe Biden, worthy of the office. It was, of course, Ronald Reagan's slogan, but as the sun comes up Wednesday on a land that has dramatically turned away from the Bush-Cheney years, it will feel for tens of millions like "morning in America.
The aftermath taught them that they could take on the dreaded Clinton machineâ€”â€œthe most impressive, toughest, most ruthless war room in the world,â€ as Pfeiffer put it. â€œIt was like we had taken our first punch and kept on going,â€ he said.
The Cosby Show,â€ which began on NBC in 1984 and depicted the Huxtables, an upwardly mobile black family â€” a departure from the dysfunction and bickering that had characterized some previous shows about black families â€” had succeeded in changing racial attitudes enough to make an Obama candidacy possible.
As grand as the symbolism of Obamaâ€™s victory was, it was also a victory for his steady, corporate campaign management. The campaignâ€™s early decision to play on a more ambitious map than other Democratic nominees was the source of his mandate. And the result closely mirrored the PowerPoint presentation his campaign manager, David Plouffe, pitched to sometimes-skeptical audiences of reporters and donors.
He could be ironic, detached, and highly self-aware one minute; completely earnest and inspirational the next.
Iâ€™ve got to go back and read this one when I get a minute. It's a 7 part series of stories from the campaign that the reporters agreed not to share until after the election.
Maybe Obama won because McCain's VP selection was so bad? Sarah Palin had at one point intimated that some parts of the country were more pro-America than others.
We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us. Those who are protecting us in uniform. Those who are protecting the virtues of freedom.
We did it. Well, YOU did it. I couldnâ€™t vote, but I shamed people into it, dragged them to the polls, and was a pain in the ass to a lot of people (including, by the way, a couple black people in my office who didnâ€™t think their votes would make a difference in Georgia!) Hopefully, I did my part, too.
Obama won among every age group except for voters 65 and over.
The atmosphere in which this election was waged also didn't hurt Obama. Rolling Stone described the atmosphere thusly:
The failure of the administration of George W. Bush â€” and the accompanying crisis of the Republican Party â€” has caused a political meltdown of historic proportions. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Bush enjoyed the greatest popularity ever recorded for a modern American president. Republicans on Capitol Hill, under the iron rule of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, fattened their coffers through a fearsome operation overseen by corporate lobbyists and GOP henchmen that functioned more like an empire than an old-fashioned political machine. "Republican hegemony," the prominent conservative commentator Fred Barnes rejoiced in 2004, "is now expected to last for years, maybe decades."
Obama popped onto everyoneâ€™s radar screen in 2004 with a speech at the DNC.
Fired with political idealism, he decided to become a community organizer. He wrote to organizations all over the United States, and finally got one reply, from Chicago. He moved there, going to work for a tiny, church-based group that was trying to help residents of poor South Side neighborhoods cope with a wave of plant closings.
What nobody could know then was whether Obama had the stamina, timing, and simple dumb luck to arrive safely where he now has. I donâ€™t believe that we as a country would have been ready to elect our first African-American President except in very unusual circumstances. Unfortunately, those circumstances were duly provided by a calamitous Republican Presidency and, now, by an economic crisis of terrifying depth. The challenges Obama will inherit necessarily shadow todayâ€™s celebrations. Still, itâ€™s a great, great moment in America, and itâ€™s not bad juju to say so.
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While this section might be pretty redundant (everyone on the Left is relieved and hopeful, everyone on the Right is concerned, but happy for America that we could elect a black president), it's one I still find interesting if only for the amount of reacting that happened. What it boils down to for many is a renewal of the ideal of the USA, an ideal that had been forgotten by most of the world and disappointed half the country for the last 4 years, if not the last 8 years. Along with helping to move the US away from racism, electing a black president should also be a strong weapon in the fight against extremism around the world.
Here are some newspaper covers from the day after the election from around the world, but not EVERYONE had Obama on the cover, here, here, and 724 here, (And at least 2 magazine covers). The early finish not only helped people get to bed, it helped newspapers, too.
By 10 pm. Eastern, newspaper editors could put crisp, definitive headlines atop their front pages. Some European newspapers managed the same, either by way of special editions or the quaint tradition of afternoon publishing.
For only the 5th time in their history, the NY Times used 96 pt font on its cover.
The Wednesday edition of the Times was very popular. It was sold out all over the city so people lined up outside the Times' building to buy copies. Copies are available on eBay for $100 or more.
Did the world despise the Bush administration so much, or are they just desperate to want to believe in the ideal of America again? I guess we could ask the same question about all the people IN the US who celebrated the election result so fervently.
Citizens of the world and their political leaders were quick to offer congrats to the President Elect.
If history records a sudden surge in carbon emissions on Wednesday, it may be due to the collective exhalation of relief and joy by the hundreds of millions -- perhaps billions -- of people around the globe who watched, waited and prayed for Barack Obama to be elected president of the United States.
Today, reality in America has superseded fantasy. ... Americans have struck a deadly blow to racism all over the world. Americans have regained themselves and have regained the American dream. The picture of the U.S. that was disfigured by the Republicans in the past eight years fell from the wall today. The picture of the America we had in our minds has taken its place." - Prominent Saudi columnist Dawood al-Shirian.
One other thing: this is a country whose President-elect's middle name is Hussein. That is a fact to be celebrated. I received an email from a young friend, an entrepreneur in Kabul, this morning. He said, "We are all smiling now," and he attached a Pakistani press clipping--the Taliban greeted the new President and said they were ready to commence talks.
I was surprised by the largely pro-Obama turnout, especially with Democrats Abroad and the very active Americans in China for Obama group also hosting functions. I tried to find similar Republican events in town but could not. "It's always this way," a Republicans Abroad officer from Hong Kong told me by email.
Across the globe, people in city squares and villages, living rooms and shacks cheered his success, boosting hopes that America's first black commander-in-chief might herald a more conciliatory approach to the rest of the world.
Non-Americans must also brace for disappointment. America will certainly change under Mr Obama; the world of extraordinary rendition and licensed torture should thankfully soon be gone. But America will, as it must, continue to put its own interests, and those of its allies, first. Withdrawing from Iraq will be harder than Mr Obamaâ€™s supporters hope; the war in Afghanistan will demand more sacrifices from Americans and Europeans than he has yet prepared them for. The problems of the Middle East will hardly be solved overnight. Getting a climate-change bill through Congress will be hard.
Tristram Hunt, a British historian, put it this way: Mr. Obama â€œbrings the narrative that everyone wants to return to â€” that America is the land of extraordinary opportunity and possibility, where miracles happen.
And numerous other not necessarily international people flooded the internet with what Obamaâ€™s win means.
There are still a lot of mixed-up, terrified people out there who went to bed last night in a panic about what "those people" will do now that they have one of their own in the White House. When I finally got to watch a replay of Obama's speech in my hotel room late last night, it occurred to me that it's those people who were actually the big winners in this election. Why? Because a lot of them are going to wake up a year from now and realize not a whole lot has changed. And quietly, when no one's looking, they're going to relax a little.
It may no longer be as dominant, economically or diplomatically, as it once was. But it is younger, more optimistic, less cynical. It is a country that retains its ability to startle the world â€” and in a good way, with our freedom. It is a place, finally, where the content of our President's character is more important than the color of his skin.
5. I hereby order that "mandate" immediately be stricken from all the dictionaries and vocabularies of every Democrat in the country. That dirty word has no place in a democracy. That said, feel free to use the phrase, "Wow, we kicked some ass."
My colleagues and I laughed and shouted, whooped and hollered, hugged each other and cried. My father waited 95 years to see this day happen, and when he called as results came in, I silently thanked God for allowing him to live long enough to cast his vote for the first black man to become president. And even he still can't quite believe it!
But a smiling picture of the Secretary on the wall of the VA building isn't going to make a difference alone. Here are the three critical policies veterans need to see from the new President in his first 100 days:
1. Advance-Fund VA Health Care
2. Implement GI Bill Transferability
3. Issue a National Call for Mental Health Experts--and back it up with incentives
For many of the soldiers who've spent the last year deployed, the campaign has not nearly been as high-profile as it's been for those of us on the home front. Soldiers I spoke to in Iraq this summer cited their long work hours and sometimes spotty Internet access as hampering their abilities to follow politics. If those of us at home now have some idea of who the real Barack Obama is, they may not -- but their lives may depend his actions as president.
This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.
Gawker dropped the snark for a second, (PS Nick Denton cried):
Obama will be the first to tell you that he ain't no Jesus, black or otherwise. But tonight, we say without snark: we feel hopeful.
It is here, though, that Obama, at least for one night, was at his most gracious. He addressed himself directly to us â€” to conservatives and other skeptical Americans who opposed him, often stridently...Which is right? We donâ€™t know, or at least I certainly donâ€™t know. But I admit to worrying.
Bush did not make a serious effort to unite the country. Nor has he seemed particularly conscious of this failureâ€¦Instead, as he told me once, "I'm a results-oriented kind of guy." Well, the results are in. America is far more divided now than when Bush first took office. He now maintains that divisiveness is the residue of a leader making tough decisions for the future benefit of the country. George W. Bush wouldn't have bought that line of reasoning in 2000, and most of us don't buy it now.
I am on record as flamboyantly anti-Ralph Nader, but he surprised even me with his classlessness as he wondered whether Obama would be Uncle Sam or Uncle Tom. I just want him to go away. In any case, Ralph Nader is, you know, an idiot.
Suddenly it makes sense, what you've been trying to tell us about John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Sure, we knew all about their roles in history, we'd learned about them in a million classes, through countless books and documentaries. Eventually, though, the endless memorials and tributes and TV specials and Oliver Stone films grew a little tedious. We didn't quite understand why you've never let those two go, why you'd speak so relentlessly about a better timeâ€¦And in 15 years, our kids probably won't understand it when we talk about the night that Obama was elected president, either. They'll sigh deeply and roll their eyes and say they've heard this story a million times before, so please shut up about it already. They'll purse their lips and think about how our hair looks stupid and we smell like old cheese.
Which is the reason Iâ€™m doing this, they might not understand, but I want to remember.
I belong to what has sometimes been called â€œthe Greatest Generation.â€ If most of us have felt uncomfortable about the honor, it may be because weâ€™ve known that in some ways we havenâ€™t been all that great. The election of Barack Obama as President could mean that all of us in the United States belong to the Greatest Generation now, and though this astounding event seems to have happened all of a sudden, for some people my age it wasnâ€™t soon enough.
Conservatives are worried, though, Iâ€™m not sure why, they havenâ€™t had a true conservative (in the small government way) in the White House since, well, I donâ€™t know.
If Barack Obama wins the presidency tonight, as seems very likely, what should conservatives fear most about his administration?
The indelible memory from last night, for me, will always be the First Family-elect, resplendent in black and red, walking almost a little shyly onstage, as if it was just then dawning on them what has happened, and waving to the delirious tens of thousands in Grant Park. And my son will grow up not thinking it remarkable to have a black family in the White House.
Court watchers almost unanimously believe that those first two Justices -- John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg -- are certain to leave the court at some point over the next four years, while the third -- David Souter -- is highly likely to do so. To understand why that matters so much, just consider that all three of those justices were in very precarious, narrow majorities in crucial decisions.
The final president of a republic tends to be a failed, despised figure. The First Republic, which began with George Washington, ended with James Buchanan, a hapless president who refused to act as the South seceded after Lincoln's election. The Second Republic, which began with Abraham Lincoln, ended with the well-meaning but reviled and ineffectual Herbert Hoover. The Third Republic, founded by Franklin Roosevelt, came to a miserable end under the pathetic George W. Bush.
Martin Luther King, Jr., who helped start the campaign that made this possible, used to note progress in Birmingham by telling supporters of a former slave who once said: â€œWe ainâ€™t what ought to be, and we ainâ€™t what we want to be and we ainâ€™t what weâ€™re going to be. But thank God, we ainâ€™t what we was.â€ Thatâ€™s a useful assessment of the nationâ€™s progress as well.
More than 35 one sentence responses to what the victory meant from thinkers:
It means the 9/11 era -- of dealing with the world 9/11 created rather than using 9/11 as a political club -- has finally begun. -Brad DeLong
As someone who both strongly advocated for Obama in the primary and general election, and also questioned him on some of his policy positions, I think that (despite the naysaying of some partisans) support and pressure can be as complimentary as the carrot and stick. Indeed, I think real movements and concrete change come only with both. Yet, I also believe that we should make sure the pressure we harness is the kind that assumes that Obama is at minimum trying to act in good faith for progressive goals, at least until he gives us clear reason to believe otherwise.
That, for me, was D.C. last night. Of course the dynamics of wealth and privilege that define the city are still intact. But for one night the people holding open the doors were a hell of a lot happier than the ones walking through them.
Itâ€™s simple. Having an elected black President will do more to energize this country than any economic or social policy ever could. In a single day of voting, our amazing country once again reinvigorated the dream that any child in this country, no matter what circumstances they are born into, can grow up to be anything they want, including President of the United States.
Steven Johnson, author of Ghost World and Everything Bad is Good for You says The System Worked:
It starts for me with Bush's approval rating. You run the country with breathtaking incompetence for eight years; you defy the constitution and the Geneva Conventions; you let an entire city drown; you fail to ask for an inch of sacrifice from the rich during the greatest concentration of wealth in our country's history. You do all those things, and it turns out the American people pay attention: you become the least popular president since the invention of polling.
Like everyone else, I was unimpressed by the Election Night dress -- possibly just because the cardigan threw off the look. (However, having been in Grant Park Tuesday night, I can't blame her for that. Beautiful as the weather was for the time of year, I was happy to have my fleece after the sun went down. And I can admire practical sartorial choices as much as daring ones -- which might be why Hillary's pantsuits never bothered me.)â€ Michele is smart and people like her clothes.
Perhaps history itself demanded that we pass through the pain and humiliation of the Bush era in order to merit the relief granted by this election. We have been forced to suffer through the most vile of administrations, one that has shown total disdain for the Constitution, for the rule of law, for basic humanity. And this is the second most important takeaway from the election. After nearly three decades in which the power structure pandered to, exploited, refined and capitalized on all the worst of our collective base instincts, along comes a candidate who speaks only to our most humane and compassionate side. That says something striking about Barack Obama. And it says even more about the American people. Itâ€™s one more victory we shouldnâ€™t hesitate to claim.
I was struck by how Fox News seemed to be the first to call a lot of the states for one candidate or another.
But in general, the Fox team displayed an oddly jolly professionalism. They seemed determined to take their medicine, with the stick-to-itiveness of a losing football team dreaming of bright days far in the future or the past (and the near certainty that their core audience was going to bed, by the millions, in despair). Though it went briefly wobbly on Ohio, Fox didn't really show any particular reluctance to call states for Obama, and after New Hampshire (at 8:11) and Pennsylvania (at 8:30), its commentators quit pretending there was any serious doubt about the outcome and began arguing about what kind of president Obama would be -- and what kind of country he was inheriting from you-know-who.
And watch Juan Williams' response. I'll always remember people on TV getting choked up (and Jesse Jackson's tears) the same way I remember Peter Jennings mussiness on 9/11.
Because all Americans, white and black, liberal and conservative, are brought up to believe that their country is different, special, the "greatest nation on earth," a "city on a hill." We are all taught that our system is just, our laws are fair, our Constitution is something to be proud of. Lately, though, this self-image has taken a battering. We are fighting two wars, neither with remarkable success. We have just experienced a cataclysmic financial crisis. We are about to enter a recession. We are unloved around the world, and we know it. Electing our first black president won't by itself solve any of these problems, butâ€”to use the pop-psychological language for which Americans are justly famousâ€”it sure makes us feel good about ourselves. That hysteria you saw on television in Chicago was, yes, partly about the return of the Democrats and partly about the passing of George Bush. As the rain-on-the-parade dispensers of sour grapes are already writing, it was absolutely about ideology, too. But it was also about relief: We really are a land of opportunity!
Barack Obamaâ€™s decisive defeat of John McCain is the most important victory of a Democratic candidate since 1932. It brings to a close another conservative era, one that rose amid the ashes of the New Deal coalition in the late sixties, consolidated its power with the election of Ronald Reagan, in 1980, and immolated itself during the Presidency of George W. Bush.
Obama, something of a re-founding father, now joins the pantheon of white men who have cast a bright light or negative shadow over the nation's political landscape. His interpretation of America's ideals and destiny will enliven the creeds that have shaped the nation's self-image.
And then, of course, there's the fact that Obama has just been elected President of a nation in which he could have been bought and sold as a slave just seven generations ago. I don't think there are any words adequate to the occasion of America electing its first black President, so I'll just say this: This may be a bleak day for the Republican Party and for conservatism, but come what may in the years ahead, it's a great day for our country. Barack Obama deserves congratulations, tonight, but so does the nation he's about to govern: We've come a long, long way.
He also threw some non-conservatives into this one, too. Reading as much commentary from the right as I did, I recognized a split in the conventional wisdom, some saying Obama doesnâ€™t stand for anything and America voted for his words and rhetoric, some saying he does stand for things and American voters were fooled, and a few like Ross Douthat above who say, graciously, itâ€™s great to be in America and witness this, congrats Barack Obama.
This is America, so of course we care how celebrities respond. Their opinions shouldnâ€™t matter any more than any one elseâ€™s, but itâ€™s still interesting to see what they say.
You know how I love Will Smith, right? Well here he is on Oprah
Still, the whispers that Barack had this thing in the bag made people more socially adventurous tonightâ€”at least in New York. The question became not whether O would clinch it, but where exactly you would be when he didâ€”because if you're going to be telling the story to your grandchildren anyways, it would be nice if the details involved celebrities or champagne (or at least someone to make out with).
Evan Handler (Who? Oh yeah, the bald guy from Sex and the City):
But in his unabashed belief in education over glorified ignorance, in wisdom over warmongering, in humanism over denominational hubris, in effort over expedience, and in service over self-interest Barack Obama is the first president in my lifetime who resembles me and the people I know.
(The original post, with everything on one page was too long to load. Hopefully this will fix that.)
Turnout, Voting, and Polling
High turnout was anticipated all over the country and many people had to wait in long lines. I got to my polling place, the Police Station at 9 AM and there was a short line, right to the door. Most of the people that I know from my town vote in one of two schools and they all had to wait in lines for over an hour. My line had me in and out in 20 minutes. The only interesting story from my experience was there was a guy in front of me with a greyhound in a fleece coat. Since there was a ballot initiative to ban greyhound racing this year, a police officer asked the owner not to bring his dog into the polling area. Itâ€™s against the law to display anything political while voting and the officer was concerned some people might be uncomfortable with the dog there. What resulted, however, was the dog being tied up outside of the polling area and crying. Not sure that wasnâ€™t worse. In any case, letâ€™s get on to the stories.
But a 64% turnout rate is a very big deal. According to this Wiki entry, turnout four years ago was about 56%, and that was considered a pretty good year. More notably, turnout was 63% in the Kennedy-Nixon race in 1960, and that was the high watermark of the modern political era.â€ 130 million people voted, 64% of voting age population.
Youth voters in California were the only demographic to vote against the unAmerican Proposition 8, which means the foes of equal rights are going to lose in the long run...Moreover, maybe young people will be able to educate or shame their elders into wising up in this matter.
Young voters diverged sharply from the population as a whole, preferring Obama/Biden over McCain/Palin by 66% to 32% in the NEP. This is by far the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate... Thanks to George W. Bush, who crystallized the effect of conservatism on this country, there's a whole generation of truly progressive voters out there.
18 percent times a 25 percent increase in the Democratic margin equals 4.5 points, or a majority of Obama's popular vote margin. Had the Democratic 18-29 vote stayed the same as 2004's already impressive percentage, Obama would have won by about 2 points, and would not have won 73 electoral votes from Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, or Indiana.
I didnâ€™t think this article from the National Review was very good, but it finished with a strong question:
Thankfully, all the decisive states in 2008 were won by large enough margins that no-one will attribute the outcome to possible voter registration fraud perpetrated by groups like ACORN. But that might not be the case next time. Can we agree we should solve this problem with effective protections against voter registration and voter fraud before a scandal tangles up a future election?
Rachel Maddow says long lines are like a poll tax. This year people felt an urgent need to vote, but how many elections in a row will they continue to wait in line for several hours. And when will we get voting machines we can trust?
I realized at some point that all of the currently reported problems--the vote-flipping, the long lines, the lack of audit trails, the security problems, the indifference (and, in some cases, belligerent incompetence) of local elections officials--are simply repeats of elections and primaries past. I could drag out ten or so articles from the 2002 midterms through the primaries of 2008, change only the dates, and we'd have a pretty good description of the present problems with early voting in this election.
Many of the states that allowed early voting this year experienced few delays on Election Day, and now federal election officials, lawmakers and voting experts say people in every state should have the same privilege.
This map specifically and this story in general should be giving the GOP nightmares as 78% of the counties in the country voted more Democratic this election than last. It's worth clicking through to check it out.
Sticking with 78% for a second, 78% of Jewish voters (more than Kerry got) voted for Obama. This entire election, it was a question in the media as to whether Jewish voters would vote for him. This answers that.
Democrats have won the popular vote in 4 of the last 5 presidential elections.
Democrats have won the presidency in 3 of the last 5 presidential elections.
Democrats have increased their popular vote total in 7 of the last 7 presidential elections, while Republicans have done so in just 3 elections, staying flat once, and dropping 3 times.
I donâ€™t know why, but NC, MO, IN, and MT decided they wanted to be the center of attention this year, not declaring a winner for a while. MO took 2 weeks!
Deep in Red Red Red Alpharetta, GA, a mechanic with a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall says, â€œThat sonofabitch better win!â€ He was talking about Obama.
Tim Robbins had a voting nightmare. He was turned away from the polls and had to go to City Hall to clear things up.
To keep things moving they were directing people to the attached men's and women's bathroom to fill in their ballot. So I filled in my ballot in a bathroom sitting on the can. It was great to see that kind of voter turnout.
My husbandâ€™s former father-in-law, a truly horrid little man who uses the â€œNâ€ word with regularity and a forceful commitment to every nasty thing it represents, pulled the lever a few hours ago, in a dingy, struggling town in West Virginiaâ€¦for Barack Obama. Just something to feel a little bit in awe of as you sip your cocktail and wonder if tonight is going to be what we hope it will be.
My daughters are 13 and 15 like Obamaâ€™s and I wonder if they will ever understand what happened back then and what today means. Maybe they wonâ€™t and maybe thatâ€™s a good thing. Maybe itâ€™s even the point.
This was one of 7 sites open in the county for early voting last week. I drove past it last Friday thinking that, perhaps on the afternoon of Halloween the line would be short. It wrapped around the parking lot like one of those terrible Atlanta airport security checkpoint lines. So I waited to vote until today.
FiveThirtyEight.com exploded into everyoneâ€™s consciousness during the primaries by, time after time, coming as close as anyone to predicting the final turnout
Mr. Silver recognized that people wanted to play politics like they played fantasy baseball, and pick apart poll numbers for themselves instead of waiting for an evening news anchor to interpret polls for them.
The only state their model got wrong was Indiana, where they expected a narrow Obama loss. He won the state by a hair. Nate Silver owned this election on the polling front: one young guy with a background in baseball stats beat out the mainstream media in a couple of months. And he beat out the old web: I mean if you consider the total joke of Drudge's recent coverage and compare it with Silver's, you realize that the web is a brutal competitive medium where only the best survive - and they are only as good as their last few posts.
Pollster.com was also one of the better sites to check out during the election. Whatâ€™s next for them?
We have plans to use our Flash charts to display a wider variety of poll data, including Barack Obama's favorable rating and, of course, his job rating as President once he takes office. We are also looking forward to tracking what both the "basic trends" that Charles Franklin charted earlier this week and the reactions that Pollsters will gather to the initiatives of the new Obama administration. Look for new charts and new data coming soon.
This chart shows the polling was generally pretty good, though it underestimated McCainâ€™s support in red states and Obamaâ€™s support in blue states. (Toss up states like NC and IN were almost right on)
1. Exit polls have a much larger intrinsic margin for error than regular polls.
2. Exit polls have consistently overstated the Democratic share of the vote.
3. Exit polls were particularly bad in this year's primaries.
4. Exit polls challenge the definition of a random sample.
5. Democrats may be more likely to participate in exit polls.
6. Exit polls may have problems calibrating results from early voting.
7. Exit polls may also miss late voters.
8. "Leaked" exit poll results may not be the genuine article.
9. A high-turnout election may make demographic weighting difficult.
10. You'll know the actual results soon enough anyway.
(The original post, with everything on one page was too long to load. Hopefully this will fix that. There is a full table of contents at the bottom of this post.)
Almost immediately after the election, informal and unplanned celebrations exploded on street corners in cities all over the country. It seems strange to me, but the only time I got emotional after the election was while watching some of the videos of celebrations and seeing people all over the country reacting exactly the same - joyously. What surprised me the most was how many random groups of people all over the country felt compelled to sing the National Anthem, almost as if there was a latent patriotism bubbling to the surface. Another thing I'll never forget is the group of people who gathered outside the White House, chanting and singing until 1 AM. Below are some videos, pictures, and stories about the celebrations.
Before leaving the election party I was at 10:58, there was a toast, 'To our new President. Barack Hussein Obama!'
For my part, the most memorable part of last night was coming out of the subway at 34th street at 11pm to a sea of cars and cabs moving up Sixth Avenue, horns honking. I had not been able to check the results since 8PM, but I knew then that Obama had won.
Dancing on a bus in NYC.
And what it might have been like to be a passenger on that bus.
And what it might have been like to be on the street next to that bus.
And I found that very thing on Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg, the geographic heart of all we mock. Hipsters, it was your finest moment. And you can't help but believe that when the amorphous hipster mob takes to the street for democracy while a grim Lou Dobbs climbs silently into his pajamas somewhere across town, brighter days are ahead. God bless America
Washington D.C.'s U Street, once known as the Black Broadway before being ravaged by riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, came alive last night, as blacks and whites shut down traffic in a spontaneous celebration of the nation's first African-American president.
I've never seen DC's streets like that. I've never seen any streets like that. Thousands of people, screaming, honking, hugging each other. An indiscriminate celebration. U Street was a mass of humanity, everyone giving high-fives, drivers stuck in the road and laughing with the crowd.
I've never seen anything like it," said Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, who was at an election party at Arbor Brewing Co. on Washington Street, celebrating his own victory for a fifth 2-year term. "You could hear them coming and then half the bar went outside and followed along.
Jacked up on motivational rhetoric and tunes from Barack's iPodâ€”including Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," Brooks & Dunn's "Only in America," Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher," Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising," U2's "City of Blinding Lights" and Buddy Guy's "Sweet Home Chicago"â€”the departing crowd poured onto Michigan Avenue where the afterparty took form. The impromptu street bash assumed the joyous spirit of Times Square on V-J Day, particularly when guys realized that if they shouted "O-ba-ma!" in proximity to ebullient coeds that it would earn them hugs or, better, kisses. The "O-ba-ma" mating call and response persisted into the wee hours. Past midnight, in front of the Art Institute of Chicago, an impulsive young emcee armed with a cowbell and a voice that carried whipped revelers into an ecstatic dance eddy that sucked in everybody within earshot. Super Tuesday melded with Fat Tuesday.
As people streamed out of the park, a black woman leaving the rally could not believe the balmy weather: â€œ70 degrees in November in Chicago.â€ Her husband added â€œand a black man is the president.â€ Change, to use Mr Obamaâ€™s sometimes vague slogan, seemed palpably in the air.
On election night, as the whole world was watching Barack Obama speak in the same park where protestors battled police in 1968, the city by the lake became Americaâ€™s city on the hill, the epicenter of national politics for a new era.
Text and video of Obama's victory speech from CNN.
The joy here is sexualized. Couples are full-body hugging and making out. It feels like that iconic photo of soldiers returning from World War II, a sailor getting wet kisses from a nurse in New York City. Every contact feels extra honest, like weâ€™ve just been through such an ordeal that we long for real comfort. Diplo screams into the mike along to the rhythm: â€œO-bam-a! Oh my god! O-bam-a! Oh my god!â€ Damn, it feels good to be an American.
People celebrated at UC Berkley
And at the Boston Public Library!
And in Harvard Square (Turn down your volume, this one is loud)
I didnâ€™t feel this way on election night, but several times over the last several years I did.
As I watched CNN call the race for Obama, I had a rush of joy, followed by something I totally did not expect: Anger. I was holding a glass of champagne in my hand, and it was all I could do not to launch it across the room (I was in my own living room with family). Then it was over. The weight of the last eight years bursting out? Don't know. I wonder if anyone else felt the same way? It did not last, but it sure was there for a moment.
In preparation for becoming a new parent, I've been reading (among other things) The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Dr. Harvey Karp. It's full of what seems like will be very practical advice for how to soothe a crying baby, which will come in handy on the off chance ours aren't perfect little angels.
So, anyway, I'm reading Appendix B, "A New Parents' Survival Guide," in which Dr. Karp lists ten "survival tips" for new parents. There's nothing earth-shattering (trust yourself, be flexible, etc.) but I was brought up short by this paragraph in a sidebar titled "Rest: The Essential Nutrient for New Parents:"
The extreme fatigue that goes along with being a new parent can make you feel depressed, irritable, inept, and distort your perceptions of the world like a fun-house mirror. (Some countries torture people by waking them up every time they fall asleep!)
Yeah, some countries. Like, for instance, the United States of America.