President Obama’s re-election speech, broadcast late last night, hit a lot of the right notes that all Americans might have wanted to hear. “I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly,” he said early on. “And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests.” Yep, that’s what a lot folks doubtless felt over the past few months especially.
After giving numerous examples of the importance of elections to many different kinds of Americans facing different kinds of issues, he said near his conclusion, “I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states.”
It was an eloquent speech that played well on TV. Idealism in victory is something that needs to be asserted with some subtlety, lest it come off as naive, and Obama succeeded in this. But other instances of how a second term will play out for the President are unfolding on television. This morning on The Today Show, Matt Lauer interviewed Elizabeth Warren — winner of a bitterly contested Massachusetts Senate race against Scott Brown and a woman who right up until the late night last night was accused by Liz Cheney on Fox News as being someone “who pretended to be a Cherokee Indian.” Lauer asked Warren, “Are you prepared to compromise?” Warren gave a calm answer, rather than the one I had rattling around in my head that she might have used: “Excuse me? Am I ready to compromise? How about a little compromise on the other side? How about, maybe, an apology?” But Lauer was only articulating what the media had already chosen last night, a freshly warmed-over Republican campaign point as its latest (shudder) “narrative”: That it’s Obama and the Democrats who are intransigent, not the other party.
Another source captured this tone perfectly. Throughout the election season, The Colbert Report has been doing the funniest, most cutting and acute comedy commentary on the election process. He did not fail his audience, live on election night. Billing his show “Who Will Replace Obama ‘012,” Colbert immediately launched into musing over how his fake-conservative character could help stymie four more years of Obama. But first, he had to remember: Who was the Republican candidate? Mitt someone? “That can’t be right,” he said, “‘Mitt’ isn’t a real name.” Stage one had set in for Colbert’s character: denial.
Colbert’s guest, Andrew Sullivan, the liberal-turned-neo-con-turned-liberal-again, came on to tease Colbert about the Obama victory, saying gleefully, “There’s a black man in power with nothing to lose!” When asked to explain this rather over-the-top remark, Sullivan, even in the midst of joking, back-tracked a bit, explaining that what he meant was that that sentiment was “the paranoia going on somewhere in [Republican operative] Karl Rove’s head right now.”
It ain’t over til it’s over? Naw: It’s just begun again…