Obama’s victory speech covered all the right bases, especially the candidate’s thanks to McCain for the latter’s phone call conceding the race, which, undoubtedly, was as well-spoken and gracious as the speech in Arizona. The single problematic feature in Obama’s remarks was the paraphrase from Dr. King’s “mountaintop” speech delivered in Memphis the night before his death, which served to remind a lot of us that for the last ten months the senator has had more Secret Service protection than anyone except President Bush. Another notable aspect of the address is that it did not conclude with the strains of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder. (“Overjoyed” by that artist might have been a suitable substitution but instead there was a lofty-sounding instrumental.)
But, as some commentator or other noted tonight, the nation is now on “the other side of history.” Forty years ago when Grant Park in Chicago was riven by violence rather than united in triumph, a minister from Washington, DC, Channing Phillips, received 67.5 votes at the Democratic convention, the first black American to be nominated for President at a major-party gathering. Twenty years ago, for a week after winning the Michigan primary, Jesse Jackson (much seen on TV tonight, with tears running down his cheeks) was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination – another first. (Tonight Brit Hume referred to this on Fox News; here’s a clip which also includes Juan Williams’s comments on Obama’s win to which John Taylor refers below.)
And tonight, the BBC coverage cut to one of their reporters, standing in a Kenyan village (where it’s Wednesday morning), while several relatives of the president-elect were dancing in celebration. Tomorrow has been declared a national holiday in Kenya.
NBC’s also reporting a gain of 26 seats for the Democrats so far in the House. Not quite a repeat of 1964, but it sure looks like Obama will have a Congress presenting him with few of the roadblocks encountered by Carter or (when he had a non-GOP legislative branch) Clinton.
And thus the evening finishes. A new era is indeed upon us.