The Fog Has Finally Lifted

The Stool has been silent for many months as our great country, its financial institutions, its basic industries, and most importantly its ordinary citizens, have been pummeled.

The Obama victory on November 4 created an historic change in the political landscape, where intellect, vision, compassion and leadership trumped partisan ideology.

Only historians will be able to fully assess the carnage which has resulted from the ineptitude of the Bush administration. Whether judged from the loss of lives, liberties, respect, or wealth, or for the creation of debt, deficits, or divisiveness, the election of Obama brings to an end the “Rovian” era of Willie Horton, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, “Palling around with terrorists”, “Joe the Plumber”, and “The First Dude”, not to mention the end of Bush and Cheney’s influence on government.

Obama has prevailed in an Electoral College landslide. The inexplicable Palin selection, and the economic meltdown generated a passion for change not just from the youth of America, the urban elite, women, minorities, organized labor, the intelligentsia, and the liberal media, but from such unlikely sources as Colin Powell, Scott McClellan, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, the Anchorage Daily News, and even the National Review.

Experience clearly counts. Perhaps, however, in today’s highly complex, extremely dangerous, interdependent global village, wisdom, judgment, compassion, intellect and leadership count for more. In retrospect, Bush was hopelessly unqualified to be president. The same could be said for Truman, Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton. Each of these men, however, possessed a high level of the other qualities, absent in Bush, particularly judgment in the choice of senior advisors.

To this day Bush believes he has a direct link to God, but clearly no idea where God wanted him to go. As a result, obsolete cold warriors like Rumsfeld and Cheney, supported by the ultra-hawkish neo-con philosophy of preemption, usurped the commander-in-chief’s responsibility for setting foreign and domestic policy.

Replacing General Powell with Condi Rice, and turning the Justice Department over to a political hack like Alberto Gonzales all but eliminated the voice of reason and diplomacy which helps build strong international alliances and transformed the Patriot Act, absent judicial checks and balances, into a tool to run roughshod over First Amendment freedoms, invade privacy on a massive scale, and publicly support torture.

As two wars based on faulty or fraudulent intelligence raged on, this team freed up Bush to crusade for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, to repeal the assault weapons ban, veto embryonic stem cell research, and to inject the White House into the University of Michigan Law School’s affirmative action program.

Our founding fathers, who the strict constructionists profess to worship, clearly recognized the absolute need for separation of church and state. The Bush crusade slavishly fronted the evangelical agenda. So beholden to their “base”, that even a once moderate maverick like McCain didn’t have the courage to pick a distinguished and capable running mate like Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman because, like the majority of Americans, they support reasonable reproductive rights.

Under President Obama we can expect Supreme Court nominees to be distinguished jurists with a broad view and the wisdom to interpret the Constitution in light of current conditions. Whoever succeeds McCain as the leader of the Republican party is not likely to surrender reason and reality to the hard right “base” or the party will not survive.

To have hockey mom, Sarah Palin, a 72-year old heartbeat away from free world leadership, devoid of any meaningful credentials for the job, excited the “base”. Creationism, gun rights, repeal of Roe, no recognition for gays, the myth of global warming, trumped any understanding of the economy, or for that matter, of the world. For Palin, who couldn’t define socialism without prompting, to accuse Obama of being a socialist, did a disservice to John McCain, not to mention the electorate, and contributed mightily to his defeat.

President Obama, a centrist, will find real opportunities for debate and compromise on contentious social issues like immigration, abortion rights and homosexuality. We will have an African-American first family in the White House, supported by 70% of first time voters, a clear signal as to where the youth of America stand. Fifty percent of women and 53% of people who felt race was an issue supported Obama, an outspoken advocate of Choice. Not only did the “Bradley effect” not materialize, it will be remembered as one of the last fear driven myths created by the discredited Rovian spin machine.

The outpouring of support for Obama from Kenya to Afghanistan, from Europe to Indonesia, and from Israel to Iran reflects how badly we have abused our allies and adversaries during the past eight years of “my way or the highway” foreign policy. In Spain, coverage of the two major football (soccer) games was suspended to share our election results. Unprecedented!

While the writer wishes he were a first time voter, sadly this is not the case. In fact, the nationally televised memory of Bull Connor turning fire hoses, dogs and cattle prods on black Americans attempting to vote in Alabama in the 60’s was fresh when casting my first vote in a presidential election. The tears in the eyes of millions of citizens throughout the world who watched the grace and dignity of Obama’s acceptance speech in Grant Park, rekindled a pride in everything American that had been too long absent. John McCain was equally gracious.

It will be up to President Obama and his team to deliver in the face of wars, economic crisis, and the continuing threat of terrorism. It would seem we have the best chance in decades for a bi-partisan consensus in Washington. It is fervently hoped that our elected officials will listen to the voters who have spoken so clearly in favor of change, and give it to them.