Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Champagne Time

It's only 9:55 pm Pacific Time, but we just popped the cork. Obama won. And, best of all, McCain conceded in a gracious, nonpartisan fashion I found truly touching (despite some of the booing from the utter creeps he has attracted over the last few months).

When this campaign was in the late primary stages, I couldn't have been more pleased. Although I was committed to Obama early on, when I looked at the line-up of realistic possibilities and found Obama, Clinton, and McCain, I said, hey--any of these would be an improvement! In the case of McCain, I didn't always agree with him, but I thought he was forthright and willing to stand up to political claptrap. In other words, I thought he was that rarity in the USA (and perhaps in the world), a principled politician.

Alas, when he named Sarah Palin as his running mate in an effort to cater to the worst elements of his party, I think he sold out. And I think the New York Times, in their editorial just after Mr Obama won, sums it up quite nicely:

Showing extraordinary focus and quiet certainty, Mr. Obama defeated first Hillary Clinton, who wanted to be president so badly that she lost her bearings, and then John McCain, who forsook his principles for a campaign built on anger and fear.

McCain's concession speech went a long way towards redeeming him.

Now, everybody's making a big deal about the fact that Obama is an African-American. I'd never vote for or against someone because of their race, but I'll admit it's a nice bonus. What makes me happiest is his educational background. After the Bush years, it would be good to have a Constitutional scholar in office, and Con Law is Obama's specialty. Maybe he can patch the poor old document back together.

One of the things that drove me mad about Bush was the way he kept claiming, as he stripped away our civil liberties and set the NSA to spying on us all, "My first duty as President is to protect the lives of the American people." Well, you know, I checked. That isn't his first duty as President. Here's the Oath of Office in full:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Not to protect lives. To protect the Constitution. Lives are valuable, but still expendable in certain causes, and many were spent to give us that document.

Obama has so much to do. And many of the things he needs to do would limit Presidential powers (especially so-called 'signing statments,' which Bush invoked in 1,100 instances to say that he as President felt free to ignore laws passed by Congress if they interfered with his executive rights). Now there's a real test of character: Is the first thing you do on assuming power is try to limit your own power?

I think Obama may be up to it. I hope so.

Well, enough of that. Time to watch all of our weird California ballot initiatives.

Cheers, everybody.


Matt Curran said...

Without sounding too presumptuous, I'd say the majority of people outside the US will be happy with the outcome. I think McCain would have been okay, but Palin was a nightmare waiting to happen.

Hopefully Obama won't be a false dawn as Blair was over here - we all had high hopes (I remember a couple of street parties in Sheffield when he was elected) but it's funny how things can turn sour in the end...

Jake Jesson said...

Agreed, with both your opinion of Obama and McCain. (Though I think he'd sold out a month or so earlier, when his ads dropped from "spin" to "lying".)

I gotta say, though, I'm pretty freakin' happy Obama won.

Janet said...

I am mainly relieved the whole exercise in bitterness and hatred is over. You guys really have to find a way to cut your campaign period down to something sane, so the country doesn't spend half its time trying to rip itself apart.

I did note some very creepy behaviour on the part of Obama partisans too, for what it's worth.

Still, congratulations and all. You have a new president, and you're right, his being black is a nice bonus. If he meets even a modest amount of the expectations he's raised, you'll be well off.

Disclaimer: I wasn't cheering for anybody in particular. I was under no moral obligation to choose, not being an American citizen.

David Isaak said...

Hey, Matt--

Well, there's certainly no way Obama will be able to do everything people want. He's inherited such a mess that he'll be lucky if he can just prop things up.

I'm just hoping he can put in place the kinds of safeguards that will rein in the insane amount of power his office has accumulated since 9/11.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Jake--

Yeah, the tone of the campaign shifted there at some point before Ms Palin. But McCain's sellout to me was picking a running mate who doesn't hold the same ideals he does.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Janet--

Hey, if you can figure out a way to simplify and shorten this election process down here, we'll gladly carve your face onto Mount Rushmore!

But this campaign was actually pretty civil until McCain put Steve Schmidt, the Karl Rove acolyte, in charge of his operation in early July. If that hadn't happened, I think we could have had an comparatively intelligent and well-mannered campaign.

Still too damn long, though!

Jen Ster said...

Hey, what's up with you guys having a referendum on my marriage? And am I married or not?

David Isaak said...

Hey, Jen--

Prop 8 seems to have passed, even though all the votes aren't counted.

Don't start dating other people just yet, though. According to our Attorney-General, this change in the law doesn't affect any marriages already made. (Some people dispute this, but applying laws retroactively is tough.)

So it appears most probable that you and your better half are still hitched, even if nobody else can get married henceforth.

Weird, huh?