Sunday, November 09, 2008

Frank Rich on the election that was

By Michael J.W. Stickings

If you're looking for something good to read today -- say, maybe you're bored by the early NFL games (I have my choice of Bills-Patriots (so-so), Rams-Jets (snooze), and Titans-Bears (okay)), and you're waiting anxiously for the Steelers-Colts at four o'clock, as I am -- then be sure to check out Frank Rich's Sunday column at the NYT. It's an excellent summation of the election that was. Here are a few key passages to whet your appetite:

Our nation was still in the same ditch it had been the day before, but the atmosphere was giddy. We felt good not only because we had breached a racial barrier as old as the Republic. Dawn also brought the realization that we were at last emerging from an abusive relationship with our country’s 21st-century leaders. The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place — in cities all over America.

For eight years, we’ve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupid — easily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media.


This is another America — hardly a perfect or prejudice-free America, but a union that can change and does, aspiring to perfection even if it can never achieve it...


The actual real America is everywhere. It is the America that has been in shell shock since the aftermath of 9/11, when our government wielded a brutal attack by terrorists as a club to ratchet up our fears, betray our deepest constitutional values and turn Americans against one another in the name of “patriotism.” What we started to remember the morning after Election Day was what we had forgotten over the past eight years, as our abusive relationship with the Bush administration and its press enablers dragged on: That’s not who we are.

Well, my American friends, it's not who a lot of you are, and perhaps not who most of you are, but it's who many of you are, and, lest we forget, McCain-Palin did win 46 percent of the vote nationally. That is, 57,434,084 of you, whether you did so consciously or not, voted for "the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics," for "the soiled banner" of McCain-Palin.

There is indeed good reason to be optimistic, and -- make no mistake -- I am. But let's not delude ourselves into thinking that the Bush-Rove past is now completely behind us and that all is well once again. I agree with Rich -- who not is delusional, just optimistic -- that America is "a centrist country tilting center-left," but, as Obama often says, and Rich quotes him, "[d]on’t think for a minute that power concedes."

Much of the power, and not just over the past eight years but over the past several decades, has been held by the right, and the right, both the Republican Party and conservatism in its different forms, will not give up without a fight.

Though millions of Americans "reclaimed their country" on Tuesday, there is still much to be done.

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  • Michael,
    Just today, as my wife and I were returning from Orlando to south Florida, I remarked that it is truly frightening that 57 million people were willing to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat from the presidency. Those people are not going away, and they will return in 2 years for Congressional elections, and in 4 years for another presidential election.

    By Blogger Bob's Blog, at 8:00 PM  

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