No one has commented yet on the symbolic importance of Obama holding his victory celebration last night in Grant Park in Chicago, which was, 40 years ago at the riots of the 1968 convention, the location where the Democratic Party might be said to have been shattered almost irretrievably. Now, 40 years later, Obama returns to scene in triumph, with a renewed Democratic Party spearheading a resurgent liberalism.
Of course, Lyndon Johnson thought his path was clear following 1964. He never foresaw that his chief difficulty would come from the left of his own party. I keep wondering what will happen to Obama’s standing on the left if he doesn’t get our troops out of Iraq quickly, or if he has to order a strong military effort somewhere that won’t go down well with the left.
As an old guy, I myself picked up on it right away last night and informed my 11-year old about what happened 40 years ago. I can only hope that O doesn't think this is the much delayed victory of McGoo.
I expect to hear not McGooism but faux-Kennedyism from him about not fearing to negotiate, and getting the Word (of the One?) to our foes, etc. But he is surely as personally weak as JFK ever turned out to be. Maybe O should ask to meet with Mahmoud A. in Vienna, to reinforce his penchant for symbolic empty gestures.
Contrary to most conservative commentators who were anxious to get voters to be fearful of Obama's perceived weakness in foreign affairs, I have always believed that what Biden was really getting at in his remarks about a "test" within 6 months is precisely what Steve hints at above. Biden was talking to his base. He knows they're going to be angry when Obama has to do things across the oceans that are other than speechifying and flower spreading. None of this is to say that Obama will not be weak in some fundamental way (or at least terribly misguided)--as Dennis suggests was JFK. But it will be more complicated than simple weakness. He's managed to paint himself into a tough corner and it is hard to see how he will emerge without leaving footprints.
Biden was right. Any new president will be tested, and the important thing to note is his or her response to that test. Just off the top of my head, I am thinking about those images of George Bush reading to the 1st graders when he learned that he had just presided over the first successful foreign-led attack on the U.S. Mainland since the War of 1812. Then, there was "You're doing a great job, Brownie!," and then his most recent stellar leadership skills during our current economic crisis. I am also remembering how much uncritical, automatic support GWB enjoyed for so long on this blog.
Those of us who voted whole-heartedly for Obama expect that he will not invade foreign countries for profit, and that he will not orchestrate a collection of lies and half-truths in order to muster support for an immoral war.
We expect that he will demonstrate a respect for the Constitution, instead of an arrogant disdain for civil rights.
We expect that his expressed intent to reach across the aisle, and to listen to those who disagree will be more than a nominal, cynical nod of the head to "compassionate conservativism."
We expect to be asked to help in the process of pulling our fat out of the fire that the Bush Administration and friends have fanned for 8 years, instead of the suggestion that shopping and blind flag-waving and liberal-baiting, and racist scapegoating could substitute for true patriotism.
Many of you have different expectations, and it is easy to see why, given your chosen role models and their performances over the past 8 years.
But for us, today is a good day, and we expect that tomorrow will be, as well.
If you want to feel better, take a stroll through the NLT archives from 2004-2005, and look for the pronouncements regarding the death of the Democrats, and how the Left just doesn't get it, and how Bush represents the USA of the future.
It's good reading!