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November 5, 2008
Yes, He Did
Much as everyone expected it for the past two months of
unanimous polls and unshakeable momentum, it didn't fully sink in until
11 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday: Barack Obama has been elected the 44th
president of the United States.
Yes, an unapologetically liberal first-time U.S. senator
from a non-Southern state, who opposed the Iraq war, whose middle name
is Hussein, whose last name rhymes with "Osama," – and oh yeah, is
African-American – is the next president of the United States.
How did he do it? There were dozens of key factors in the
result, from the disaster of the George W. Bush years to the September
economic meltdown to the debates to the boneheaded choice of Sarah
Palin. Then there was the decision by the McCain campaign and
conservative establishment in general to run not against the Obama that
actually exists, but a fictional caricature of him – a Muslim,
communist, terrorist sympathizer who bares little resemblance to the
But the biggest reason Obama won, I believe, is that he
was able to inspire and excite Americans, and make cynical Americans,
literally by the millions, believe in the promise of what politics can
do. He is a tremendously compelling, charismatic and magnetic figure,
and all other things being equal, I'm not convinced the result would
have been the same if not for that.
So what do we know after tonight? For one thing, we can
forget about the Bradley Effect, forever more. There is no Bradley
Effect, period. It doesn't exist.
Second, John McCain will never be president. Neither will
Hillary Clinton, and I'm going to guess not John Edwards either.
Third, a new era has begun. Just four years after the
phrase "permanent Republican majority" was being thrown around
seriously, Democrats will run virtually every corner of the federal
government, with the Republicans reduced to a small, angry rump, whose
anger at the new president will make the Democrats' early opposition to
Bush look like nothing.
This was very clearly the most fascinating presidential
election in U.S. history – great books will undoubtedly be written about
it, and I can't wait to read them. But the best thing of all was that
history has been made – the best candidate has won, and America has been
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