I hope if you were saddened by the election results that you didn’t run off to bed before the victory speech. Both men’s speeches were definitely essential listens. They can be viewed at their campaign websites and on most newspaper sites—NYT has them.
Those frustrated by the kid gloves they feel the media has used with Obama can take comfort in the coming days and months, as scrutiny and skepticism will soon take it’s place. As he actually takes office and is forced to make difficult decisions, it is very likely his supporters will feel disappointed. Our American Idol-style politics lend themselves both to infatuation and to backlash—whether the man is a rock star or a worthy leader or both.
Can you imagine a more difficult situation to take on? Not only one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, with even global chaos looming—but the weight of all that hope he asked for (and got), being the first black president, the MLK parallels, the JFK parallels, the enormous antipathy, mistrust and downright bigotry of many of those he will govern. And how will he sell his own party on his flavor of bipartisanship? I just can’t imagine the pressure—choosing to step into that looks more like masochism than powerlust.
As I watched his acceptance speech, I did have that sense of historic significance and felt again that appreciation of his direct style so foreign to the political mannerisms of the past several decades. I felt that his seriousness, his practicality, his tendency to surround himself with smart people would help him face everything as best as can be done under the circumstances.
But at the end, when he was slowly walking the front of the stage, smiling but somehow still serious, waving to people in the audience—every so often the camera would catch a glint of the enormous wall of glass that surrounded him on every side of that seemingly open and public stage. Something about this image of the serious man waving from inside the giant glass cage, and the enormous personal, national and global threats he just was handed—I was overwhelmed with sadness.