The day after

Written by Reg Henry on .

It was quite a night. In the light of day, Barack Obama's achievement seems almost miraculous. How did he do it?

I think the answer may lie in areas that the Republicans have disparaged - his intelligence and experience. These alleged weaknesses actually might have been his strengths.

When Obama made a slip of the tongue in the heat of the campaign and referred to the 57 states he had visited, it was seized upon as evidence of his stupidity. It was pretty pathetic evidence: Many things can fairly be said about Barack Obama but being stupid is not one of them. He is as smart as a whip.

Intelligence and thoughtfulness are a big plus in any enterprise. They can help compensate for a lack of experience. Despite the conventional wisdom, Obama wasn't without some relevant experience. He was at one time in his early career a community organizer.

This is the very thing that numerous conservatives have ridiculed, most famously Rudy Giuliani at the Republican National Convention. Ha, ha, ha! What does that mean? What good is that?

As it turns out, perhaps very good. Until an Obama volunteer pointed it out to me, I didn't consider that the ability to organize communities might help in running an effective political campaign.

Of course, Obama, being smart, has attracted smart people around him and I don't know to what extent his hand was on the inner workings of his campaign. Still, campaigns are a reflection of a candidate's competence and the fact remains that Obama's campaign was masterful and John McCain's was inept. Last night on CNN, political commentator David Gergen called the Obama campaign one of the best ever seen in American politics.

In community after community across America, the Obama campaign was supremely organized and won the ground war. I wonder if Rudy and co. still think community organization is such a laugh line?


It is great to be in a newsroom on a busy Election Night. Reporters and editors are assembled in battalion strength to cover all the different stories and angles. The old place throbs with excitement and energy. At the Post-Gazette, pizza is delivered free for all the workers.

Loving democracy and pizza both, I would not have missed it. As a journalist of great antiquity, I wonder how many more of these events I will participate in. I hope to work as long as I can but one day newspapers may all become Web sites and the romance will be gone. Moreover, conservatives won't have anyone to blame for their own failings and pizza deliverers will prowl the streets without a sure destination.

Until that sad day comes, I am glad to be working on Election Night. My job last night was to blog in a duel with my conservative colleague Jack Kelly in a feature called The Last Word. I hope you found it entertaining.

The problem for Jack and me is that we like each other perhaps too much even as we don't like each other's politics. I suppose it might have been more entertaining if we had a real knock-down brawl but I figure there's too much of that already. Why can't we all just get along? as a guy called Rodney King once said in a different context.


As I predicted last night would happen, the right-wing rat-bags of the airwaves today have been foaming with jets of bile at the nerve of the American people in picking the Marsist/socialist/elitist Barack Obama for president.

While I managed to miss these sulphurous eruptions, I could not miss the Tribune Review's editorial on Obama's election. Its main headline said: "America loses."

I had thought the Trib's 2001 editorial on the death of Katharine Graham was the worst I had ever read in my life, but the vileness and hatefulness of this latest effort exceeded it. Indeed, a special talent is required to overlook the incompetency and dishonesty of the Bush administration in predicting ruin to the republic because a Democrat wins the White House.

There wasn't a single word on the historic moment of an African-American candidate being elected president, yet there was room for a quotation from a 17th century French essayist who didn't have much to say but served to suggest that the editorial writer was at least a well-read cretin.

Barack Obama hasn't done one thing yet, hasn't been in office one day, hasn't even been chosen by the voters for one day. Yet a conservative writer for a conservative paper can't even bring himself to wish him the customary good luck? How thoroughly lacking in class, how completely despicable.

Read it and weep - weep for America.


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