Yes We Will ...
I marveled at Obama's calm, his composure in the face of the mania that surrounded him. Surely that bodes well for our future. As Obama said in a past interview with Charlie Gibson, it takes a bit of megalomania to believe you can be the leader of the free world.
I believe that Obama will be an outstanding leader. But what heartens me more is what he inspires in each of us. Almost without exception Tuesday, everything I heard and read from those I know and those I don't were utterances of hope and joy. The millions on the national mall represented the spirit of so many of us, so much faith in the future of this nation, faith we haven't felt for the better part of a decade. Faith we'd nearly forgotten.
And around the world, others joined us in our rejoicing.
I'm sad for those who missed the magnitude of the day as they hewed to their insistent anger. It's hard for me to understand how anyone can refuse to see to the change at hand, how they can look at millions of Americans — young, old, straight, gay, black, white, rich, poor — coming together and not appreciate where we stand.
Yesterday, I woke up in a new world, a world in which our national standing began to rise again. Our president is a man of supreme confidence but he is not cocky. He is a visionary who sees both the forest and the trees.
When Biden made a joke at Justice Roberts' expense, Obama was clearly not pleased. Yet when greeting guests for lunch at the White House, his smile was on full display as he said, "Enjoy yourself. Roam around," and then added, slyly, "Don't break anything."
I know some question the apparent carte blanche that he's been given, they rue his "celebrity" status. But I believe that the press – at least the press I watch and read, which I've always found factual, not fawning – will keep him honest. Then again, he took time yesterday, the first full day of his administration, to enact tougher ethics requirements and to put the brakes on the influence lobbyist wield in that town. Of course, I expect Fox News to go on distorting and Rush Limbaugh to go on bashing. And I'm sure some will scoff at what they perceive to be my naiveté. In their eyes, the "damn liberal media" played a large part in McCain's loss. Never mind that Fox and Limbaugh are part of the media, too, and they're anything but damn liberals.
But the McCain camp bought plenty of air time and sought to tear down Obama at every turn and yet it failed in its mission.
And here's why: Because we, as a nation (even those who didn't vote for Obama) had grown weary, to the bone, of the politics of fear. Obama's brilliance extends to many things, but the most fundamentally brilliant thing he did during the campaign was speak of hope and the future, of a new way in Washington, of shedding the policies and the politics of the past eight years in particular, and restoring America's standing in the eyes of the world.
His inaugural address was a beautifully simple repudiation of Bush's presidency. We are, as a nation, wounded. But on Tuesday, as millions packed the national mall and tens of millions more cheered from their homes, we began to help each other heal.
I know that my words have no power to sway those who remain angry and bitter. They will continue to embrace their dogma with their arms folded firmly across their chests. But as Obama said on election night, "I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices."
He will govern for all of us, because we are – all of us – America.