Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Barack Hussein Obama. America's Shining Moment

If there was one defining moment during Tuesday night's coverage of Sen. Barack Obama's historic presidential victory that crystallized the emotional enormity of this incredible accomplishment it was that of the Rev. Jesse Jackson weeping in the front rows of Chicago's Grant Park celebration. I wept right along with Jesse, as I saw behind the tears of a man who's clawed through six decades of the civil rights struggle and now stood on that proverbial mountaintop and was finally seeing the promised land. As he stood there watery-eyed, hand over mouth, watching the astonishing site of America's first black family on stage, it was impossible not to feel the same pain, anguish, shock, joy and pride that he felt at that precise moment. Though it took 43 years, the march from Selma to Montgomery had truly come to an end right there in Chicago.

How truly lovely it was to see Obama's two precious little girls, Malia, 8, and Sasha, 5, standing proudly with their father, as he and their mother Michelle held each other in what had to have been one of the most incredible moments any two people in love can possibly share. Together, they were the embodiment of the American dream. The quintessential thriving, successful, happy American family. A First-Family that truly inspires. And they're black. We should all shed a tear today, for America has demonstrated its greatness once again. A nation where, just forty years ago, a transcendent black leader was assassinated simply for dreaming the Obama dream. Yes, November 4, 2008 is a day for all Americans to be proud. The first 232 year chapter in United States history has just come to a close. The next, more enlightened, phase has just begun.

Just one year shy of fifty, I am too young to consciously recall much of the violence and racial turmoil of the sixties; it's more like a faint visual backdrop. But I am old enough, however, to have experienced the deep-seated bigotry, and even hatred, towards blacks that a youngster in the seventies encountered on a daily basis even in liberal bastions like New York. I often wondered what it must've been like in places like Mississippi if so many people were so ignorant and angry and intolerant in supposedly culturally-evolved regions like the Northeast.

I grew up at a time when there was no "N-word." It was "nigger," and it was uttered with wanton discrimination. A time when, just 15 or 20 years prior, they hung black people from trees just for being black. I often wondered during my teens, 20's, 30's and even into my 40's whether we'd ever get to that day in America when we could put our prejudice aside and look beyond color to elect a black president. To have a black First Family. To have little black children running mischievously through the Oval Office in that same way we saw little John F. Kennedy Jr. peering out from under his dad's desk. A day when we could come together as a society with common challenges and problems and goals and unite as one in our quest to find the promised land. To be, as Obama said, not just a nation of blue states and red states, but United States. Hard to believe, but that day has finally come.

To be sure, the real work must now start. President Obama (man, that sounds soooo good) has a new mountain to climb, with two wars, terrorism, and the worst economic maelstrom since the Great Depression. And he has the unenviable task of bringing the nation's political process back to the level of bipartisanship where we can once again govern productively, rationally and in the best interests of all of our citizens. He must bridge the divide between Democrat and Republican, a seemingly insurmountable chasm that began with Newt Gingrich back in the 90's and exploded under Bush/Cheney/Delay/Rove. A rift so huge that it miraculously took a 46-year-old no-name black liberal named Barack Hussein Obama to lead this new march. His job will not be easy, but throughout the campaign and his career he has indeed demonstrated the kind of curiosity, intelligence, judgement, resolve and presence of mind, and the ability to inspire, that great leaders are made of.

I am haunted by Jesse Jackson's eyes. I will never forget the raw emotional power in those weepy eyes. How incredible it must've been for him to be standing there Tuesday night, as a victorious Obama looked out onto the masses gathered before him, much as he stood beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. forty years ago in Memphis on that fateful balcony at the Lorraine Motel. If those eyes could talk, and they certainly did last night, they said, "better days are ahead..."

On another subject......TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE for the November 17 Second Annual Adrienne Shelly Foundation Fundraising Gala at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Join us for a terrific evening of music, comedy and film, with scheduled appearances by Paul Rudd, Jeremy Sisto, Cheryl Hines, Mary Louise Parker, Kristen Bell, Lili Taylor, Ally Sheedy, Keri Russell, Gina Gershon and others. To learn more about our mission, to make a tax-deductible donation, and to purchase tickets, please visit our website. Every contribution helps preserve Adrienne's legacy, allows us to help others, and creates something positive out of the tragic loss two years ago of an incredibly loving and talented woman.


Anonymous said...

As one of the conservatives that pounded this site (going back to the days of "Larry"), I just wanted to congratulate Obama and the Democrats on their victory.

In the end, I voted for Nader because neither the Democrats nor the Republicans represent me.

Every election before I vote, I say a prayer to myself for the best to happen for the country, regardless of my vote. I hope Obama was best selection for the country.

For all the Democrats that have been arguing that they want to "unite" the country. I look forward to seeing you reach out to independents and conservatives. I'm interested to see if people will refrain from divisive words used on this blog like 'Repug', and I'm interested in seeing the future of America.

To end, I just want to say that as much as I did not get my selection, I was happy for America. Happy to see such energy in people. Happy that someone like John McCain could lose with dignity and not go to the courts like the previous couple of elections. Happy to show the world that America is not racist and that anyone can become President in our great country.

Hoping for the best, I wish good luck to all of us.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Andy 100%! I cried, laughed and jumped for joy. I am so proud of this country and so happy to move forward. Yes, we have a lot to do and it won't be easy. But the Reagan era is over and I have been praying since 1980 for this day. As a white woman, I hope that the bitter white McCain supporters wake up and see our wonderful country for who we really are and not who they want us to be. On c-span McCain supporters were calling up this morning still repeating the smears and lies they spread all during the campaign. I really hope they move on or get out of the way. Oh Happy Day!!!!!

Anonymous said...

And yes, even your blog brought tears to my eyes again.


Anonymous said...

Andy, Jesse Jackson is a hypocrite. Not too far back he was caught saying "He's [Obama] talking down to black people---wanna cut his nuts off"---now he's all emotional over Obama being president? Jackson is a fraud. Here's the clip:

Anonymous said...


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Anonymous said...

Andy, I, too, never imagined that I'd ever see an African-American president in my lifetime. After last night's historic events, I know that Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and all of the brave visionaries are looking down at us, smiling. We have indeed reached the Promised Land!

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful that America is how color-blind and that we are all now to be considered as simply Americans. No longer need we be divided as "African Americans" or "Asian Americans" May Obama bring us all together under that name.

Athena Smith said...

I had not realized what an impact this election had on the world until I started receiving emails from Greece congratulating us for the election results. My email was flooded! The biggest surprise was an email from an ultra-right conservative who spoke of "brave Americans" making a "bold" choice.
Guys, this could never happened in Europe. Only in America!
Yesterday, you inspired the whole planet. Keep up the good work!

Melissa said...

I agree Andy, it was hard not to weep along with Jesse Jackson at the sight of the first black First Family in our 232 years as a nation. Yet when it comes to the Reverend, in back of my mind there are still always thoughts of “Hymietown.” Now forgive me if I sound cynical or for being a buzzkill at this momentous time. I’m elated that Obama was elected more than words can express. I’m elated that the divisive, arrogant and dangerous Bush Administration will finally be sent packing without John McCain and his wretched VP pick to carry on their dirty work, although I still believe John McCain is a decent human being that turned into a complete GOP tool to win the pro gun/“pro life”/religious bigot vote. I’d also like to believe we saw more of the real John McCain during his acceptance speech than anytime during the campaign, and if we couldn’t have a democrat, wish he could have been elected 8 years ago instead of Bush. (Dubya could never come close to such a gracious and human acceptance speech, nor would most of those people in the audience). But as far as Jesse Jackson, it’s difficult for me to view him as a symbol of the Civil Rights struggle considering what his nickname is (or was) for the Big Apple and his comment not too long ago about the black church being more concerned with finding jobs than gay rights. Kind of leaves you in the dirt if you’re black, gay and gainfully employed. I live in California where the proposition to reinstate a ban on gay marriage passed, which incidentally many of the same people who voted for Obama and change (including minorities), curiously voted in favor of. As a heterosexual, I personally can’t fathom how any American could vote to discriminate against their fellow citizens based on their interpretation of their own religion, so it was kind of a bittersweet election for me. Then there’s talk of Sarah Palin being an up and coming GOP “player” and a possible contender for the 2012 nomination (although it’s highly unlikely). Point being, I don’t think we’ve evolved all that much as a nation just yet, and never fully will as long as we allow church to influence state. Electing Obama is definitely a huge step, but there are still too many steps back and way too many American hypocrites that need to look past their own selves and their own bibles and try to feel the tears of those who are different.

Now in response to anonymous's comment about McCain losing with dignity and not going to the courts, guess he realized it would be silly since he lost by over 7 million votes and wouldn't really have a case. Al Gore, on the other hand, had over 500,000 more votes than Bush and had Florida stolen from him, I believe that was why he went to the courts.

Anonymous said...

"I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Martin Luther King
It seems we finally have reached that day.

agentofchange3 said...

beautifully said Ostroy! :)

Anonymous said...

I was half an inch away from voting from Obama. And then something struck me. It was provoked by the disclosures that the Obama campaign declined to use typical credit card verification software for their mammoth online fund raising operation.

I simply didn't understand why they wouldn't.

And then it struck me and dovetailed with an annoying feeling I had been sensing for many weeks.

I maxed out on the legal limit for campaign contributions to Obama. Gave him the full $2,300 for the general (after having given him the same for the primaries).

Yet I continued to get emails from the Obama campaign asking me to contribute more.

It made no sense to me. Surely an operation such as theirs would know who is and who isn't maxed out. Surely it's not hard to program the fundraising requests to not solicit more when it's illegal to give more.

As time went on, and more reports came regarding the refusal to identify those under $200 and the acceptance of overseas contributions from places such as the Gaza strip, I became even more uncomfortable.

My level of discomfort peaked as the emails multiplied as time went on - there were days where I received three separate emails from the campaign asking me to make what amount to be illegal contributions.

And then it struck me.....

While Obama's campaign said that they had and will continue to refund contributions from improper sources, it is clear that they had the USE of that money until good replacement money came in.

They were consciously and purposefully playing the float it seems to me - making sure they always had money regardless of the source so that they could wage a continuing campaign at an elevated level.

So I decided that I had made a grievous mistake about the character of Obama - the Ayers stuff didn't phase me, but this did.

As Richard Dreyfuss famously said in the movie Jaws, "this was no boating accident". It was a clear and calculated decision to consciously use dirty money to fund their campaign. And it made Obama's decision to renege on his promise to consider public financing all the more of a problem for me.

It appears that he knew that there would be no serious penalty for doing what he did - once he won the election, this stuff can all come out and his campaign may get heavily fined, but so what - he'd still be President.

My fears were strongly reinforced when AFTER the election I received addition solicitation for contributions - even after he won.

I believe that something is seriously wrong with the penalty provisions of the campaign finance laws. Financial penalties are not a strong impediment to breaking the rules for campaign financing.

I believe that, as is the case with Sarbanes/Oxley, there must be an attestation of the campaign reports by the candidate himself as well as his chief finance officer. The candidate himself should be personally subject to punishment, including fines, imprisonment and loss of office for deliberate violation of the rules.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Howland said, ""I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Martin Luther King
It seems we finally have reached that day."

Not a chance elizabeth. This man was elected BECAUSE of the color of his skin. He has no character.

Melissa said...

And why was George Bush elected? For his character or perhaps his IQ?

Anonymous said...

I fear that what America has elected is a set of Siamese twins of sorts.

On the one hand, he is akin to Jimmy Carter, a lightly experienced person whose main appeal was that he was not Richard Nixon or one of his acolytes.

On the other, his facile use of the language is reminiscent of Bill Clinton sans the horn-dog traits.

That's not a good recipie and his choice of Emmanuel is the first shot proving the Clinton element of his personna. Emmanuel is one of the last people one would choose to work collaboratively with Republicans, a key promise of the Obama campaign.

Anonymous said...

To: Elizabeth Howland

Dear Elizabeth,

You wrote:
"'I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.' -- Martin Luther King.
It seems we finally have reached that day."

Take another look Elizabeth. Obama's election clearly demonstrates to the rational mind that racism is alive and well in America as well as in the rest of the world.

You will note that the congratulations streaming in from around the world hail the fact that Obama is "the first black president", not that he is going to provide a tax cut to 95% of the taxpayers. When people focus on race in that manner it is racism, pure and simple.

Several studies (Pew, etc.) have proven that the major media outlets took it easy on Obama. When people lower the standards for evaluation of a candidate because of his race it is racism, pure and simple.

And blacks in America overwhelming voted for one of their own kind. When people (be they white, black or brown) vote for a candidate based on his race it is racism, pure and simple.

Therefore the rational mind must conclude, with regret, that the election of Obama to the Presidency proves that racism still exists. It can hardly be otherwise since racism is the natural behavior (acquired through evolutionary forces and natural selection) of all people whether they are white, black or brown. All the wishful thinking in the world won't make it go away.

A student of Charles Darwin