Monday, November 12, 2012

Closing the book on another election

I used to write about politics on this site a lot more than I do now (hardly ever), but a presidential election is a big deal (aren't you glad you have me to confirm these things for you?), particularly one that was this interesting, so a few words would seem to be in order.

First things first - up until the early evening of Election Day, when it was apparent to everyone outside of the Fox News studio that the President was about to be elected to a second term, I thought Mitt Romney was going to be our next President.  President Obama had seemed off his game since his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in early September, where he delivered an uncharacteristically lifeless speech that never came close to threatening Bill Clinton's status as the greatest speaker within the Democratic Party.

After that, he clearly lost the first debate to Romney (I remember texting to a close friend, "WTF is going on?"), and did no better than achieve a draw in the other two.  Well, truth be told I can't really comment on the final debate, since I was devoted to other, more important pursuits - namely, Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.  But I saw enough of the clips afterward to know that it wasn't exactly a ringing victory for the President.  As we got closer to Election Day, I found it hard to believe that Nate Silver's numbers could be that right, and coupled with accurate accounts of Obama crowds that were a fraction the size of those that greeted him in 2008, it just seemed to me that the table was set for a narrow but painful loss.

Needless to say, I was wrong about that, and now Nate Silver is well on his way to becoming the most famous statistician in the world, and since Bill James made a name for himself with his annual Baseball Abstracts.  It's worth noting, for those who might be inclined to poo-poo the field of baseball statistics, that Silver once did a stint with The Baseball Prospectus.

And on Election Night, the President delivered a speech that was so moving and so conciliatory that it did two things - one, it made goose bumps stand up on my back, and two, it prompted me to send an email to another close friend with the comment, "where was THAT Obama during the campaign?"

I won't embed the entire speech here, but you should really check it out, even if you're not a fan of the president, because political oratory really doesn't get much better than this.  If you have just a moment, then fast forward to the final three minutes, which are positively masterful and include these words:

"...We are not as divided as our politics suggest, we are not as cynical as the pundits believe.  We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions.  And we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states.  We are and forever will be the UNITED States of America..."

With that, a couple of random observations:

- I was already well on my way to becoming a Twitter addict, but the one-two punch of Hurricane Sandy and now the election has put me well over the top.  In both instances, Twitter was way ahead of any other medium in reporting what was going on.  An indispensable source of information.

- Karl Rove's meltdown was really something to see.  Given that FOX was already straggling behind the other networks in making calls for the president, it was pretty ridiculous for him to suggest that there might be some ulterior motive in FOX calling Ohio for the president.  If I was a rich guy inclined to throw millions of dollars into the fire of political contributions, I'd sure want some assurance that the guy managing that money knew what the hell he was talking about.

So now, we shall see.  There are plenty of challenges out there, and plenty of people prepared to contribute nothing more than roadblocks to the debate, I suppose in order to prove some sort of point.  It's bound to get ugly very soon, what with the fiscal cliff and all (and now, the whole Petraeus thing), but I'd like to be optimistic that the sides can come together and actually do what the president's campaign promised, which was to move us forward.  Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Thanks, Jeff, for the characteristically thoughtful analysis. I, too, was afraid to hope that the president would be re-elected. I wanted to believe Nate Silver, but thought he must be mistaken. As for Karl Rove, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Much of the Romney campaign was so dishonest and hateful; the thought that a candidate could win by lying and changing his positions on bedrock social and political issues to suit whichever audience he happened to be addressing that day, was very depressing. I think the NYTimes said if Romney did win, it would be bad news for those who believe that campaigns have some obligation to be honest. I've found the post-election analysis by the right to be very insulting: Obama supporters are "takers not makers," (Coulter) part of "the culture of dependence" (two GOP talking heads interviewed by the BBC) and people who want a president who is more likely "to give them things." (O'Reilly). I can't even repeat what Limbaugh said; it was obscene. Isn't possible that those of us who supported Obama were motivated by something a little bigger than our personal tax bills? Obama's speech was inspiring, as was his tearful thanks to volunteers in Chicago the next morning. I don't agree with many of his positions, but I do respect him as a human being.