Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Some reflections on last night

I think it is really important to pause and reflect on the sheer history we saw last night in Bareack Obama becoming the first black nominee of a major party in the US presidential election, and yes that he was nearly beat by the first woman nominee.

How many times has it been said it would take the US 100 years to be 'ready' for a woman or a black President?

Whatever else it has achieved in it's existence the Democratic Party has, through this contest, put both of these within grasp.

So politics is still a noble endeavour, party politics (too often maligned) specifically.

Remarkable for any country to candidate of a minority ethnic group as a contender for high office, whereas in the US the Civil Rights movement is still in living memory for many.

I can only borrow this from Andrew Sullivan's blog:

My grandfather, 86 years old and a veteran of WWII, just gave me a call. He
was calling all of his grandchildren to let them know what an important night
this was in the history of our country.

Grandpa drove a truck for over 50 years, and he told the story of how he drove with a team of drivers, 2 white (including him), and 4 black. When they stopped at the truck stops, the black drivers had to use seperate restrooms and showers, and had to eat in a small room in the back of the kitchen. Grandpa and his co-driver would eat in the back with the rest of the team, and while they didn't speak of it at the time, they
knew it was wrong yet felt powerless to change it, and believed that it would never change.

Tonight, he told me, we have come full-circle. Many people, especially the younger generation who supported Obama, will never fully realize the historical import of what happened tonight. But he wanted his grandchildren to know this story that he had never told us, and it was the second time in my 33 years that I have heard my grandpa cry.

Obama's speech showed the same deep oratorical gifts that Obama has always showed. His ability to move the audience, move with the audience, create common purpose with them. He looked every bit a President and compared very favourably to the two other speeches, both of which were rather pedestrian in nature.

Of course, oratory alone (oratory is the thing that is decried when present but bemoaned when absent - in Obama we have a foremost modern orator that lives up to the highest ideals of the art) won't work and the hard graft of a General Election that leaves the contestation of the Primaries behind.

On the other hand I now have a more negative view of Hilary Clinton's speech - also some reactions here. I don't think she managed the required tone and her speech doesn't stand muster in the cold light of day. Seem to remember John Major saying something along the lines of "When the curtain falls, you leave the stage...").

I think the chances of being a VP were always slim but probably a generous concession speech was required to make it a possible. I think she's overplaying her hand and it will backfire.

In spite of all of this no-one will deny her her position as a candidate who was a candidate to the very end of the process (quite a rare occureence) . There's lots of speculation as to potential roles but some that have been mentioned include Senate Leader, Health coverage supremo and the even Supreme Court. Putting her in charge of health care reform is a very good proposal as it people to remember the chaos the last time she was put in charge of it.

To get any where near to cashing in on her achievement in this Primary she does need to concede and get behind the nominee.

But the most important thing is to pause a while and reflect on hisotry in the making that I am sure, whatever the result of the election, will have massive ramifications for the rest of the world.

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