Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Congratulations, President-Elect Obama

Observations:

1. President-Elect Obama deserves the respect due the office, and our prayers. Let us in particular pray for his physical safety.

2. President-Elect Obama deserves congratulations on a well-run campaign, in which he at least remained relatively classy. He was a bit thin-skinned and vindictive when he and his were questioned in ways he didn't like, and he sometimes raised race as an issue by saying that his opponent had done so, when he hadn't. But in the history of campaigning, that's small potatoes. It was in fact a pretty dignified campaign on both sides, and that's worthy of praise.

3. It is an exciting thing that we elected our first black president. And it is gratifying that our first black president is a man with class and good taste, rather than some aging civil-rights-era race warlord who speaks in cadences fit for the pulpit but not the podium. We thereby escaped, for the moment, cascades of race riots and interracial ill will.

In a nation like the United States, which is truly one of the most color-blind nations in the world but publicly gives itself a bad rap because of our tendency to claw at our own bellies over our grandparents' sins, the possibility of putting racial mistrust entirely behind us is something to savor.

Kids of different "races" (I use scare quotes because we're all human) grow up playing together; they work together; they marry and have children; my melanin-challenged five-year-old has no preconceptions at all about the melanin-rich skin tones of her friend from next-door except that it means her friend can get by wearing less sunscreen.

By the time she is twelve, I guess, my daughter will have heard rumors that there are people who think skin-color determines a person's worth, like a rumor of cannibals in the Amazon basin. But in her life, they'll likely be little more than rumors: What a marvel!

4. I hoped Obama wouldn't win, because, tho' I was tempted by the color of his skin, I dragged my mind forcibly back to his likely policies and found them deeply inferior to the alternatives.

But a person can surprise you, by being wiser than you expected. And events can surprise a president (ask G.W.Bush!), preventing him from enacting what he thought he'd enact. I will pray that either or both prove true of the Obama Administration.

5. It was unlikely Obama wouldn't win, because:

(a.) He's black, and there were (I'd guess) five times more people willing to vote for him for that reason alone, who otherwise wouldn't have voted for a man with his policies and history, than there were people who voted against him because he was black, who otherwise would have voted for a man with his policies and history;
(b.) Everyone's tired of the Iraq war, and even though an abrupt pull-out is now nearly the only thing that could possibly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, they expressed their impatience by voting for the guy who called for the more abrupt departure;
(c.) The credit crunch is not properly understood by most folks, nor is the limit of presidential power over the economy, nor is the profound impact of state and local government on business, so much of the electorate was likely to blame our economic difficulties, or even their local ones (my own state is doing fine) on the party in the White House; and,
(d.) The MSM voted early and often.

...and so, no big surprises tonight. Which is nice. The surprises came over the last two years, and I'm about worn out absorbing surprises.

6. In his Herculean effort to run a campaign which never came within miles of playing the race card, John McCain did well. He perhaps overdid it, in the sense that Obama's years of regular absorbtion of Jeremiah Wright's racially-divisive and theologically wacko screeds could legitimately have been made an issue by the McCain camp, who instead barely mentioned the topic. But the old war-hero, whose year was 2000 if it was ever his year at all, managed a campaign which, while not a nail-biter, remained pretty competitive until the end, against enormous odds. He deserves kudos, not the usual and more likely post-election blame-game. In that sense, he'll probably get less than he deserves. But from me, he gets my thanks.

Considering how I felt about his performance in the Senate, and how grudgingly he got my vote, it pains me to say it, but: He ran a perfectly decent campaign.

So, in summary:

Congratulations to the President-Elect, and by God's protection may he be kept safe, and by God's generosity may he be made wise, and by God's providence may the 99.9% of events which are utterly outside the control of the President of the United States conspire to help, not harm, the United States of America.

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