Resolute, Tough, Intense... Presidential
There is something in the air tonight. It's the stirring of history, mixed with hope fulfilled.
Today I read Martin Luther King Jr's Letter from the Birmingham Jail. It's a ten page long letter that amazed me in how much it moved me, describing the thinking behind King's struggle in 1963 to get better treatment for Blacks, justifying his non-violent civil disobedience.
And tonight, I see Barack Obama win the Iowa caucus. I hear him give an incredibly inspiring speech-- one that will eclipse the brilliant speech that John Edwards gave.
I watch the tough, thick skinned pundits gush with exuberance as they experience the magic that I've witnessed when I was in Obama's presence. He didn't give ME the chills, but I could see the incredible excitement and energy he inspired among his supporters.
Something magical happened tonight, something that will change America.
Obama pulled very strong among independents and there's an excellent chance they will flock to him in New Hampshire. South Carolina, 50% African American, will surely fall to Obama as his message of hope erases the fear of disappointed failed expectations.
Okay. So tonight I AM feeling chills just thinking about the meaning of a black man winning the Iowa caucus. This is a poignant moment in history. The echoes of this vote will extend far beyond the numbers. You could sense it in the shock and thrill that the pundits were experiencing. They know. This was a seismic event. The American people, the people of the world know. They know that the people of Iowa demonstrated the beauty and vibrancy of democracy, of justice, of equality. Bill Clinton used hope as an essential part of his campaigns. Barack Obama has inherited, appropriated, inherited it-- you chose how to characterize the acquisition. But it's clear that Bill was not able to pass it on to Hillary.
And Obama is manifesting that hope in a way that will swell, like a tidal wave on the distant shores of South Carolina, Florida, California, throughout the south... and it will turn fans of Bill who turned to Hillary as a substitute into buoyed supporters of Obama, floating in the sea of hope his single Iowa win has produced. Who would have guessed. None of the pundits, that's for sure.
Watching Obama give his acceptance speech, his demeanor was serious. Taking photos, I found the faces were intense, emotional, not pretty. This is a man of passion, who, in his moment of victory, did not exult, he spoke to the challenges, which, in his heart, he believes he has a chance, the hope, to face and best.
There were moments, as I watched this intense, serious, powerful black man, that I worried that he would scare some insecure whites. One black writer friend has observed that the mainstream film industry has never allowed a black man to make love to a white woman. Will the mainstream allow a black man to manifest true strength, power and toughness? Obama's no minister, like Jesse Jackson. He's no pacifist, like ML King. Can America handle a tough, strong black man with a mission? Watching the pundits, it seems like a yes. But history is replete with strong black men embarassed, even shamed by stupid white bigots with a little bit of power.
Chris Matthews observed that Blacks got the vote 50 years before women, an suggested that the pattern may be repeating itself here. Perhaps history is being recapitulated, and electing a black man president is the next historical step before the election of a woman.
I am certain that there are tens of thousands of racists, maybe more, who will be very upset about tonight. It will not be easy for Obama. But Obama is a strong man who is no naive innocent. He will triumph.
Probably, already, the pollsters have begun matching up Obama against Huckabee, Romney , McCain and maybe Giuliani, who's gambling on a very different strategy. Ron Paul hit double digits and beat Giuliani. Thompson, coming in third may have been handed a second chance, after most pundits declaring him dead.
Things are even more interesting that most imagined. And we haven't even started speculating on vice presidential matches. Would Hillary run as VP? Are there other women who might be possibilities on the Democratic side? How about women on the Republican side?