November 05, 2008

The Fresh Perspective of Morning

I went to sleep around midnight, after gorging myself on the scant hour of local returns coverage we got, courtesy of overzealous networks that wanted to rehash the historic events of yesterday.

On waking this morning I found myself very reflective. How am I going to respond to what happened yesterday.  Instinctively, I reach for Pollyanna: everything will work out great! But I know better.

The truth is, I would like to spend the next four years nitpicking and slamming and treating Barack Obama with all of the disrespect that was lavished on George W Bush for the last 8 years, and for the same non-reasons.  But I can't do that.  The man IS the President-elect, and let's be honest, he ran a hell of a campaign.  I'm not saying it wasn't dirty, or race-baiting (hell, all you have to do is turn on a TV and see a crying black person exalting about "we're" in the White House to know that), or that it was the best campaign ever.  I'm just saying he did more, had a better strategy, and all around out-foxed the other guy and his people.

Last night's speeches were probably the best of the campaign, particularly McCain's heartfelt concession, which I thought was the ultimate in class.

President Bush's speech this morning was also thoughtful and classy, and it struck me as one of the best from him in a long time.

He and Senator McCain must be so relieved this morning.  That it's over!

I honestly don't know what's going to happen.  My own prediction is that the Democrats will soon be victims of their own success.  With such large legislative majorities, they can't blame it on the Republican whipping boy anymore.  Combine that with the deep divide in the party that began with ultra-liberal vs moderate democrats and grew over the race between Barry and Hillary.  Which creates an opportunity for the GOP to remind people what they are all about, without the looming "spectre" of George Bush and Dick Cheney as the faces of the party.

The pendulum swings, and this time it has swung towards something entirely different and unknown.  All of the TV talking heads made this point last night, a question I have raised before, as well: WHO is Barack Obama? What will his policies be?  How will he lead this country?  The campaign always focused on Obama the man, not Obama the leader.  Even the most enlightened political insiders are unsure of what's next.

Which brings me to my last point.  Listen, I appreciate that racism is a visceral thing for many blacks.  That the memory of discrimination is palpable.  But this isn't 1968.  Racism isn't what you think.  It does not exist the way that you remember.  White people don't automatically see black folks as less.  I've seen so many black people on TV saying that NOW (only NOW???) they were going to tell their children to dream big dreams.  WHAT???  Why aren't you teaching your children to dream big dreams already?  Why can't they succeed?  Maybe because you're teaching them that they can't?

AUUUGH.  It grates.  That black folks are "proud to be an American again" that black children "now have a chance"  GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELVES.  This amazing country is a place where ANY child has the opportunity to become ANYTHING.  Nowhere else do children born in poverty have the opportunity to rise to the heights of fortune and fame.  And you take it for granted and piss it all away because you think, THINK, that someone will try to take it away from you because your keratocytes take up more melanin.

This ladies and gentlemen is the culture of victimhood.  That because we've never had a black president, you couldn't let your children dream of being the president.  How the fuck are we ever going to get there if we don't think of it first?

So I will congratulate Barry Obama.  He won, seemingly fair and square.  Sure, I could point out that the black dude won so nobody's bitching, but that would be counterproductive and petty.  I will congratulate him, and at the same time let him know that we are all watching.  And we will hold him to his promise to hear our voices.  And we will hold him accountable.

Posted by caltechgirl at November 5, 2008 09:09 AM | TrackBack

Excellent post! Couldn't have said it better myself. And didn't. :)

Posted by: pam at November 5, 2008 09:24 AM

Clap. Almost rocket science.

Posted by: Two Dogs at November 5, 2008 10:25 AM

If what Michelle was wearing last night is any hint of future-fashion, we're in for a bumpy ride. But I'm more concerned with his upcoming Supreme Court nominations, and expect to see the return of some very ugly policies like the Fairness Doctrine and another AWB. We're so screwed.

Posted by: DirtCrashr at November 5, 2008 10:32 AM

Excellent post CTG.

And I felt better after reading this today...

It is what it is...

Posted by: Richmond at November 5, 2008 10:42 AM

Excellent! You articulated so well what we were batting around here in the wee hours...

Posted by: Marie at November 5, 2008 11:10 AM

awesome ctg. well said -- especially the racism aspects. it grieves me to no end that 1/2 the country basically voted for socialism.

Posted by: kate at November 5, 2008 11:27 AM

I have to echo something you said on this drives me batty sometimes about how the African American community claims so much success because of Barack Obama's stunning campaign. I get a little annoyed because it was his white mother and white grandparents that raised him, and if I recall at the start of the primary, there were accusations that he wasn't "black" enough. It annoys me too.

As a person of color, its great to see this one wall shatter (though I disagree that systematic racism has been obliterated), and I actually do understand the whole "dreaming" thing with the kids. It's not so much that they couldn't let their children dream about reaching the highest office in the's more about not tempering it with realism. Let's face it -- the exceptional break the walls for the rest of us, and sometimes they can't do it because of where society is at the time. I think of it being akin to parents talking to their kids about being actors. Yeah, sure you could become a huge actor/actress, but you know, you probably should have a fall back degree or job because it doesn't really happen and you shouldn't expect it (seriously, how many non-gorgeous actresses are successful on the big screen). At least when *I* read about it, that's what I think. Sure, things are possible but now there is some empirical evidence. I don't like the culture of victimhood either but when I step back and look at the big picture, this is what I'm seeing.

But I didn't vote for Obama twice (primary and general) because he's black or because he would break racial walls. I voted for him because he is closer aligned to my value system than the other candidates...and, and I'll admit this: I voted for him because he was an intellectual. I want someone *very* smart (not just above average) in the office...I want someone who will bring in other smart people and listen to opposing opinions before he makes decisions as opposed to only bringing in your friends or people who share your own values. I am freaking giddy about this actually. And maybe some people didn't think he was that smart...and I don't know if I would have said he was two years ago...but he is the only man to beat the Clinton machine AND the RNC. That takes balls and brains. Call me elitist, I don't care.

In summary: Anyone who says I voted for Obama-Biden because of race will get a serious tongue lashing from me.

And mind you, I am waiting for my party to fuck it up royally. They always do. I'm just hoping it will take a little longer this time. I just want him to keep it in his pants...

(BTW, why do you refer to him Barry? Not just in this post, but in others. Even if that is what his family and friends called him, it's not like you're his close friend. I would seriously be upset with you if you referred to me by something other than my professional name in public...not that I think you even know my family name, but nonetheless, I would be very pissy. Then again, I didn't like the media referring to Senator Clinton as Hillary either, so maybe it just means more to me.)

Posted by: SBC at November 5, 2008 12:52 PM

I refer to him as Barry because he has distanced himself from being called Barry over the last two years, even though he grew up calling HIMSELF Barry. I think it's politically motivated, simply intended to highlight his ethnic background, rather than to appear more professional, and if so it's a pathetic move, and it offends me. So me calling him Barry is ironic. And a bit sarcastic, I admit.

I think of it this way, distancing himself from "Barry" in favor of Barack is the same as if my cousin ran for office in Fresno and called herself Zabel instead of Isabelle or dropped her very English married last name in favor of her Armenian maiden name to get more Armenian votes. And I'd be just as pissed about it.

For goodness sake, if "Barry" is really who he is, why not be that person on the campaign trail and in the White House? For what it's worth, I think we saw a little of "Barry" last night in his speech, as well as "Barack".

When he's inaugurated, I'll amend it to President Barry :-) Better than what I was thinking of: President YoMama...

Posted by: caltechgirl at November 5, 2008 01:16 PM

Well, President Barry is better than President YoMama for sure! :) But I'm find it interesting that you think by him using his full name was more politically expedient than Barry and his mother's maiden name.

I wonder how much the Barry thing affected him growing up. You know, when we moved from Jersey City to SJ when I was younger, my sister had to take this Americanized abbreviation of her name. She didn't want to, but the teachers refused to learn her name and it just stuck. So for years she wasn't called by her professional name...and that's how most people knew her as growing up. But she HATED it. In fact, when she went to Caltech, she made it a point that everyone call her by her full name. To my understanding, when Obama really entered the professional field, he embraced his full name like my sister.

I, on the other hand during the move, in the second grade had audacity to not let my teachers off the hook. Apparently, I said something on the first day to extent of, "I will teach you to say my name right until you learn it." And every year, I had to go through the same thing, "it would just be easier" or "well we could shorten it up" the time I was in HS I really was just so angry about the issue that they backed down within 30s. But I am truly unique to have developed this at such a young age. Most other people I know with similar issues just took whatever American bastardization of the name that school kids or teachers made and they seemed to resent it.

So either way, I guess the name thing is a bit important to me. I want people to recognize me fully so I try really hard to recognize them know actually referring to the Chinese by their Chinese name instead of their American one. ::shrug:: It's one of my things I realize...

So, is your cousin seriously thinking about running for office or was that just an example you were giving?

Posted by: SBC at November 5, 2008 02:58 PM

Hmmm... Here I thought that Bill Clinton was the first black president.

Great post, CTG.

Posted by: Conservative Belle at November 5, 2008 03:14 PM

My sentiments exactly. Of course, I took all of four lines to say it so it didn't sound nearly as thoughtful or eloquent as yours.

Posted by: Lauren at November 5, 2008 03:25 PM


Thank you for giving me another perspective to look at.

Posted by: Lauren at November 5, 2008 03:27 PM

I think that electing BHO has now taken racism, as an excuse to fail, off the board. "The Man" isn't holding anyone down now. He isn't going to pay off your mortgage either. The honeymoon will be short.

Posted by: Baddog at November 5, 2008 07:28 PM

Mr. Obama wanted the job, he can have it. Soon he'll crawl back to Jeremiah Wright for spiritual guidance because after his first transitional briefing at the White House on international issues, Barry will realize he has bitten off way, way, way more than he can chew.

After our nation begins teetering on the brink, there will be a new Conservative movement in America as people realize that this sweeping new Liberal/Socialist movement was a bad thing.

Posted by: Pasadena Closet Conservative at November 5, 2008 10:02 PM

Note that I have gone by Joseph at work and school for the past five years, so much so that (1) I actually find it weird to sign off emails and be referred to as Joe now, and (2) I get cranky when ppl at work suddenly start calling me Joe despite what I write in my email.

Similarly -- "Billy" Clinton? "Ricky" Nixon? "Johnnie" Kennedy? Hm, well there was Jimmy Carter to be sure, and there's a case for Ronnie Reagan, but by and large Prez candidates go for the more 'serious', professional-sounding version of their name. And do NOT tell me the conservatives and others wouldn't have accused him of running away from his 'true' self (and lent credence to the 'secret Muslim' bullcrap) if he'd insisted on being billed as Barry. Indeed, I think it was a combo of the professional full name and the preemptive 'yeah, it's Barack' than the 'hey liberals who will already like voting for a stable black man, I'm multi cultural too!'

Posted by: Joe at November 6, 2008 09:54 AM

actually, it was Bill Clinton (rather than William) and Dick Nixon (rather than Richard). Eisenhower preferred "Ike", Truman was Harry, and Ford was usually called "Jerry". Hell, LBJ preferred his initials, hence why we still call him that 40 years later.

So I don't see the hang up over Barry vs Barack.

But as I said to someone yesterday in meatspace, if it really is about a professional redirection, I'll happily drop the Barry thing. But I doubt it.

Posted by: caltechgirl at November 6, 2008 10:59 AM

Not to nitpick, because I really enjoyed your thoughtful and eloquent post, but he actually "distanced himself" from being called Barry when he went to Columbia - twenty years or more ago.

Came via Margi's place, and I just wanted to echo your last line. We're on common ground on at least one point: as an Obama supporter, I will be holding him accountable, too.

Posted by: Jennifer at November 6, 2008 06:41 PM

Jennifer, many thanks for the fyi on when he shifted to Barry! Any chance this is documented online, for confirmation? Eh, I bet it can be found via simple googling... but I'm just so *lazy*. :-)

And as an ostensibly unbiased journalist by training, I'm hoping the members of the media will also hold Obama, his admimistration, the Dems new and old, AND the Republicans all accountable as well. If I get me a proper j-job, I promise I will. :)

Posted by: Joe at November 7, 2008 08:03 AM

It's in his books. Also covered in the first paragraph of this Newsweek article from March 2008.

Posted by: Jennifer at November 7, 2008 11:48 AM

Ooh, is that my ill-informed showing? ;) Thanks, Jennifer. :)

As for other presidents' names, I concede Ike and Harry, of course, but I'd split hairs saying Bill isn't as casual as Barry, LBJ certainly isn't a casual name, Ford wasn't elected POTUS, and the rest weren't elected under their more casually known first names. Even if you count Bill & Jerry, it's 12-6 in favor of formal since Teddy.

Yay totally pointless statistics! :-D

Posted by: Joe at November 7, 2008 08:19 PM

I think that I have a plan for the future, if you are interested.

The Republican future.

Posted by: Two Dogs at November 8, 2008 12:11 AM

Just took a quick glance Jennifer at the Newsweek article, and thanks for pointing it out. It actually does seem to echo a little bit of what my sister went through and since it seems like he changed it in Columbia, well before he was a politicians, its not about him changing it 2 or 4 years ago for political ambitions.

And CTG, its not a hangup -- I didn't mean to make it such a large part of the posting, I really was just curious why you kept on using it. As I said before, *I* probably have a thing about names, dealing with my own identity issues growing up in this society. I take names and titles pretty seriously and I make it a point to try and be respectful whenever I came (say always referring you to as Dr. G******** instead of your first name to your students). You can ask Joe, I never call our current president W, always his last name or full name or President Bush. If he's going by Barack Obama, I call him Barack Obama. If Bill Clinton is going by Bill Clinton as opposed to William, I'll call him that too (though I always say Richard Nixon instead of Dick). But again this is just ME, I personally find it an issue of respect, but by no means, meant it to be some hang up.

Posted by: SBC at November 8, 2008 08:48 AM

well, after that campaign he'll have to EARN my respect.

Posted by: caltechgirl at November 8, 2008 09:37 PM