Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tomorrow Has Arrived

At his final campaign rally before polls opened today last night in Manassas, VA, I stood ten feet away from Barack Obama while he inspired the crowd - me along with 90,000 others - with his charisma and powerful speech. Afterward, I shook Obama's hand and saw him closeup for perhaps the last time as someone altogether human: as a man exhausted on the campaign trail while mourning his grandmother's death earlier in the day, and as a candidate trying one last time to win the public's support before earning the right to be called Mr. President for the rest of his life.

It's amazing that nearly two years of non-stop electioneering and political headlines has culminated in today. As I drove around early this morning through the streets of D.C. and watched lines snake around blocks into polling stations, it was easy to reflect on the most exciting (and longest!) political campaign that I've ever lived through: The riveting Democratic primaries and my own participation in Hillary's campaign; the shifting sands of issues that candidates in the primaries and general election addressed, from Iraq to health care to national security to prejudice to the economy; the death of Tim Russert (where will he be tonight to call the election?); the opportunity to witness history being made at the Democratic National Convention; and, in the last few weeks, the conflicting feelings of election fatigue and hold-my-breath anticipation for an Obama victory as both candidates raced to the finish line.

On my blog pages I've included my own snippets of commentary during this election season and, though I'll continue to write about political issues after its over, I have one more observation. A loss by McCain tonight will increase exponentially the likelihood that no Vietnam veteran will ever serve as President of the United States. Though some Vietnam vets, like Senator Jim Webb of Virgina, may still be involved in politics four to eight years from now, a new generation of political leadership, the vast majority of whom did not serve in Vietnam, stands at the ready. (Exhibit #1: Barack Obama, Exhibit #2: Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana). Remarkably, both John Kerry's candidacy in 2004 and John McCain's campaign this year never managed to escape the negative framing of their valorous wartime service. Indeed, it was "the things they carried" that ultimately may have cost them the election: Kerry never successfully parried the now legendary swiftboating attack ads against him, while McCain failed to shake the public perception that his approach to the war in Iraq and, more generally, to his entire political agenda have been inextricably tied to his mission to win a war that this country lost in Vietnam. Turns out the hippie generation that so stridently opposed Vietnam may have gotten the last laugh.

The line that gave me goosebumps last night came in the middle of Obama's speech. "I have one word for you, Virginia," he said. And then he paused. One word was the core of Obama's message yesterday, and while I waited to find out what it was I thought about the pages and pages of words that could describe this election. "One word," he said. "Tomorrow." A simple way to capture the essence of what was left for the campaign.

That day I've been waiting for - tomorrow - has come. Today is the day that an African American president is elected president and the Democrats take back the White House after eight years of President Bush digging us deeper and deeper into a hole. Today, our legislators, whatever Congress's ultimate composition, will stop worrying about winning their respective campaigns and start focusing on solving the deep and troubling issues facing our country. It's hard to believe, but tomorrow has finally arrived! Tomorrow is today.

3 Comments:

At 11/06/2008 9:54 AM, Blogger Ariel Glasner said...

My grandfather wrote in the following response to this post:

SOOOOOOOOO, Ariel got his adrenalin up....BUT here is the big BUT he stood next to him when he was just a Senator.....You see time is of the essence....a day later Ariel could have been with a President........

Nevertheless at the next cocktail party Ariel may unobtrusively drop a silent bomb shell to an admiring lady. " You mean Obama.?...." pause take a small sip from the dry martini and continue.."Well we have rubbed shoulders occasionally" ....take another sip.... Close case

 
At 11/07/2008 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot believe this post Ariel. I came all that distance to visit you and I only got to see Hilary Clinton. Meanwhile, you're off shaking hands with the real deal, Obama himself. What sort of hospitality do you call that?

 
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