While watching the news last night, I experienced an emotion that was so foreign to me, I had to pause a second in order to recognize it. It's called hope, and it is alive. The Obama victory in the Iowa caucuses said volumes about in which direction this country wants to go. Going into election day in a dead heat, Obama didn't merely win, he trounced his opponents and pushed the proverbial lady in waiting to an undistinguished third place. If that weren't history enough, the rousing spectacle of Obama's victory speech in front of a cheering audience bordering on ecstasy was something I have not seen since 1968. If it's always darkest before dawn, Bush is the darkness and Obama is the sunrise.
I admit to being an emotional man who is both gladdened and saddened far too easily, but Obama's electrifying address caused me to weep at the realization that this improbable candidate is both the political and spiritual heir to Robert Francis Kennedy, and our nation finally has another chance at redemption from decades of hubris, arrogance, and greed. Obama put together a coalition of old and young, and rich and poor. I would say black and white, but there aren't many African Americans in Iowa. I have visited Iowa in winter and its' citizens this time of year are mainly blue. But the most astounding number of the night was not that Barack won by eight points over John Edwards and nine points over Hillary, but that he won 35% of the woman's vote compared to Clinton's 30%. Can you say Oprah?
Only a few weeks ago, the mainstream media was speaking of the Clinton inevitability, thus proving the openly and often spoken suggestion that network and cable news programs are bad entertainment who's spokesmen are mainly full of bullshit, and once courageous and groundbreaking newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times are now merely shills for their corporate masters. So the Obama thumping caught them by surprise and left them wild-eyed with fresh speculation. Columnist Eugene Robinson of the Post made the Robert Kennedy comparison and presidential advisor David Gergen referenced Martin Luther King in Obama's speaking style. But thanks to C-Span, the no commentator network, it was clear that something electric, extraordinary, and groundbreaking was happening in that room during Obama's speech.
I trust the speech will be shown again and I hope that you are able to see it. I know the Orange Bowl was more important to some than the Iowa caucus, but something akin to a movement was born last night that will only grow larger with time. With the New Hampshire primary only five days away, I see no way for the Clintons to regain any momentum. She is the establishment candidate and the populace is sick of the establishment. Her entire senate career of triangulation and calculation has come to naught. All those carefully calibrated Senate votes in trying to show herself as the candidate with the most machismo has come a cropper. Didn't Dorothy Rodham ever tell her daughter "To thine own self be true?" My wife, Melody, called Clinton, "Bush in a pants-suit." By contrast, Obama is the real deal; consistent, eloquent, inspiring.
One additional bit of amazement for me was that Obama's race was barely a factor in voters' minds, as much as the need for sweeping change. If whites in Iowa will vote for Obama without a second glance at this country's ever-lingering racial discord, then something truly historic has happened. MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman described it as a generational shift where racial differences just aren't that meaningful to young people who grew up in an integrated society. I see it in my own step-son whose friendships with his peers, both white and black, are seamless. It would be well to remember, however, that scores of past campaign trails are littered with those sorrowfully unelected who depended on the support of the young. If Iowa is an indicator, maybe it will be different this time around. Maybe.
If young people would come out and vote, I would gladly relinquish the reigns of power that my generation seized, but badly misused. My generation was split in twain a long time ago and the two sides of that divide have now been represented by the brilliant but morally flawed Bill Clinton, and the maritally faithful but grossly incompetent George Bush. It's time to turn the page on the Bushes, the Clintons, and their respective philosophies of centrist pandering and right-wing extremism. I am tired of fighting the Vietnam War over again and arguing about someone's personal sexual decisions, especially now that there's a democracy to be saved; ours. For the so-called "values voters," who twice elected re-born Bush, don't dream of a Huckabee presidency. Though Huckabee talks more like a Jimmy Carter Christian than a George Bush Christian, President Zero has tarnished and distorted the faith and proven the absolute necessity of separation of church and state. It will be sweater weather in hell before a self-proclaimed Evangelical is elected president again on the basis of his religion. And to the Bush supporters, if there are any left who will admit it, allow me to quote Sir Paul McCartney;
" Boy, you're going to carry that weight a long time."