Saturday, November 10, 2012

Election Postmortem


There's a tradition in sports and politics to be magnanimous in victory. The last thing anybody expected to hear in 2008 from a victorious Boston Celtic like Paul Pierce was "I think Kobe Bryant is bullshit" in a post-series interview, and of course nobody said such a thing. It just isn't done.

And so it was with Barack Obama. He congratulated Mitt Romney for his "spirited campaign" and started to work on his victory speech, which was pretty good, by the way. He left it up to conservative pundits to do the postmortem on Mitt Romney, which has been mixed.

I am, however, not on Obama's team or compelled in any way to be magnanimous. I think Mitt Romney and his campaign were complete bullshit. In fact, I've never witnessed a campaign more based on the Big Lie approach to winning votes. George W. Bush's "compassionate conservative" and "reformer with results" was also bullshit, but that bit of chicanery had the saving grace of having worked, however cynical a ploy it represented.

I'm not the only progressive blogger to declare that about Romney and his campaign, and there is a profound reason why the assessment is true: they were complete bullshit, and I say that without an ounce of hyperbole.

I bought into Camelot hook, line, and sinker.
I'm the same person who as a twelve-year-old kid worshiped John F. Kennedy and was crushed when he was assassinated. I'm the same person who at fifteen went door-to-door for Lyndon Johnson in 1964. And I'm the same person who, in college, was devastated as Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated in 1968. I was deeply antiwar then and had been invigorated as the civil rights movement was making great strides year after year. I believed, in spite of the setbacks, that the arc of history was indeed long, that it did bend toward justice, as MLK had put it.

Hardball, but he delivered.
I learned mostly after the fact that the Kennedys, Johnson, and King were all flawed human beings -- as we all are -- and that elements of their lives and careers were studies in various human frailties, which I don't have to detail here. Their legacies, however mixed, did contain profound accomplishments that impact us even today. Our American society owe them a great debt. Powerful men like LBJ played politics like it was hardball, but his victories gave us substantive change.

King's message will long outlive him.
Now, a day before my sixty-fourth birthday, I'm proud to have witnessed -- and supported -- the reelection of Barack Obama. His legacy, so far, is also mixed, but he saved us from a recession, kept Detroit alive, gave us a substantive beginning to solving health care, is getting us out of two very dubious wars, and, well, did kill Osama bin Laden. More needs to be done, and I hope he does it. One thing's for certain, though: What he does is not bullshit, even as he bends the truth to his own advantage. His bullshit, if you will, is mild and it bends toward justice, not blind ambition.

With victory, Barack Obama has a chance to add to his legacy. He may play out his final four with small ball a la Bill Clinton, and that would be a shame. But Clinton did deliver a balanced budget and a surplus, did some righteous things in the Balkans and showed us, like many of the greats, that keeping it in his pants is a bridge too far. Oh well. He's still delivering, and we've forgiven his peccadilloes, and so we move on.

Like him or not, Obama's world is real and filled with love. He's genuine.

You can't fake this.

This moment in the campaign speaks for itself. It's so, well, un-Romney.

(Pictures by Scout Tufankjian for Obama for America.)

When they write the history of the 2012 campaign, a big piece of it will be that the Obama campaign rocked the ground game, that the economy was on the mend at the right time, that Bruce Springsteen stepped up in Ohio, that Hurricane Sandy -- with all its devastation -- intervened and, with Chris Christie's help Obama played it just right as Commander-in-Chief, that a harmonic convergence of epic proportions brought a host of minority interests together at a precise -- and anticipated -- moment in time, but without a doubt the final piece of the 2012 puzzle was that Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and their whole operation, from the Super PACs to the tea-party ferrets, were complete bullshit.

America dodged a bullet.

Now go away and ride Ann's Cadillacs up and down your car elevator.

The words Mitt Romney appeared too often in this blog. Never again would be too soon.

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