Obama We Will Go
Michael Ubaldi, November 10, 2008.
Well, then: election polls for the presidential race were mostly right. Only mostly right, because three states halted runaway courts, some US senators hung on, and Republicans took majorities in assemblies here and there; fuses athwart the national overcurrent. But the prize was the White House, and it is going to Barack Obama, President-elect of the United States.
These are weightless days. To look at the United States is to see it aglow. Maybe inasmuch as the race ended so quickly, and prospects for John McCain snapped off so cleanly, that catharsis brings relief. For we oppositionists, pride enters humbly. Not without delusion can one deny Obama his victory, nor can a patriotic American deny the man dignity of his elected office. And whatever the day's news, its reporting will be markedly cheerier for at least four years. Liberal journalists, party faithful, are eudaemonic, professional misfeasance serving the country's mood. The brats got their way this time, though the happy consequence is regnant optimism.
Does the executive match his nation's temperament? Have we shifted leftward? Pollster Scott Rasmussen, whose perspicacious operation asked voters why they wanted Barack Obama, says no.
"Mr. Obama followed the approach that worked for Ronald Reagan," writes Rasmussen in The Wall Street Journal. Yes, the senator was recognized as a spiritual nephew. But rather, for the left? Not so: "Mr. Obama's tax-cutting promise became his clearest policy position. Eventually he stole the tax issue from the Republicans. Heading into the election, 31% of voters thought that a President Obama would cut their taxes." Only one in ten, according to Rasmussen, believed the same of John McCain. And when invited to compare Reagan's hallmark position — "government is the problem" — it was Obama with 44 percent, and McCain with four percentage points less.
Good and bad for Obama. Good, since prevailing opinion confirmed his presidency. And bad for many reasons, chief among them the fact that Barack Obama's actions in lower office give poor testament to Barack Obama's more corporeal campaign promises. The president-elect has been quiet about past statements; his older repertoire is played una corda or not at all. Now, lifting tax burdens is laudable, less so for the generally unencumbered; and especially less so when increasing burdens on others debilitates economic activity, and the unencumbered get impoverished anyway. If he is viewed as authentically Reaganite, Obama may be surprised by his poking around, say, the coal industry. There are sectors of the American body public kept inviolate but not, thrills aside, erogenous zones.
Another challenge: the president-elect must substantiate what has hitherto been ethereal. Any skeptic of theatrics in the presentation of Obama would have to have been so caught up in the moment on Election Night that they did not stop to wonder why the president-elect appeared with his family, then his running mate, then both groups; but observed his victory alone and way out front. Taken in with that stage, bisecting the audience with a radial platform at the end of a catwalk, it was a little much. The only other celebrity immediately coming to mind to have done this is Bono, and the last time I heard of him before that, he and U2 were nightly exiting a giant lemon as if from a spaceship.
Campaigns can employ lots of thaumaturgy. Administrations less so. Remember the caterwaul in response to George W. Bush's 2005 call for American foreign policy to bring an end to dictatorship — and yet the president had a sound concept and several working models. Obama, as president, could very well realize policy goals. But so many of them reach into figuration. Yes We Can: exactly what, and for whom? If good can come of his administration, it will be my acquaintances — many who affirmed the winning candidate by speaking in tongues — accepting that the man is indeed mortal, plus a partisan Democrat.
The one most qualified to restrain the politics of velleity is Barack Obama. During the victory rally on Election Night, there was that welling admiration — which an American simply feels — but the speech begged scrutiny. Obama's narration of the 20th century denuded American trials. "A man touched down on the moon" thanks to nationalistic and ideological competition; because Yuri Gagarin flew into space first and the United States would've been damned to have let the hammer and sickle fly on Luna before the Stars and Stripes. First, or ever — "a wall came down" several years after Ronald Reagan told a disdainful House of Commons and a jaded world that free societies would "leave Marxist-Leninism on the ash heap of history." Barack Obama's first act as president should be to learn more about the country he will be ordained to lead.
See more: Articles