There are those who see the glass as half-empty and those who see the glass as half-full. Then there are those of us who see the glass as too dirty to even consider the other two possibilities. We’re the skeptics. Die-hard Chicago Cubs fans who doubt they’ll get to the World Series, even when they have the best record in the National League and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Our motto is “when in doubt, doubt.” Well, skeptics were suspended from their job on Nov. 4, 2008. America didn’t missthe chance to not only witness history, but to make it. America voted doubt out. It has never felt so right about having been proven so wrong.
In retrospect, it’s easy to see why America woke up on Nov. 5 to President-elect Barack Obama. First and foremost was President George W. Bush. If you think about it, no Republican probably stood a chance of winning. But John McCain soldiered on — like the hero that he is. It was Obama’s election to lose — but he was politically savvy enough not to let his party fall prey to the great Democratic tradition of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. In his concession speech, McCain said the fault was his. Yep. His first major decision as a presidental candidate was choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate. With all her faults, this isn’t one you can blame on her. McCain’s decision was impulsive — and he continued to be just that throughout the campaign. Up front was how he dealt with the financial crisis. Whereas Obama was calm and insightful, McCain was erratic — foreshadowing how he might govern. Voters picked up on the different styles of the candidates and eventually became comfortable with Obama as a potential president. When McCain called a press conference to say he was suspending his campaign and maybe skipping the first presidential debate to work on the financial crisis, Obama responded by saying a president needs to multi-task. A lot of us can identify with multi-tasking — and a potential president should be aware of that.
How did Obama win? Well, money didn’t hurt — and lots of it. But it was all legal the way he raised it — andbecause of that, the face of campaign financing will be forever changed.Then there was that vaunted Obama ground game — the grassroots organization that will find a place in future text books.At the GOP convention, Republicans like Rudy 9-11 and Palin in her acceptance speech mocked President-elect Obama’s early career opportunity. To them, this: It’s the community organizer, stupid.
Obama also used technology to his great advantage. McCain made the fatal mistake of counting on demonology. In this fast-paced world it’s no wonder Obama’s meteoric rise was treated in some corners as a religious experience. McCain put his blind faith in anger and fear — but that didn’t play this timeonthe American stage. McCain played to the right wing fanatics who all along were probably looking past him to 2012 once he got the nomination. The maverick of 2000 let Karl Rove and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh lead him down the path of agression being the better part of valor — orders he should have ignored.
McCain was gracious in his concession speech — evenpaying respect to Obama’s grandmother who died one day before seeing the man she raised elected to the presidency. McCain was the distinguished gentleman people who follow politics know him to be. Why there wasn’t more of that during his campaign will bethe source of many a debate.
One can’t argue that McCain was devastated — or that he was genuine in wanting to help President-elect Obamain any way he can. And there was little doubt that he had come to realize thatalthough he thought it was his turn to be president, it was Barack Obama’s time.