Here's hoping the Obama worshipers are right

November 12, 2008|By RON SMITH

The historic nature of the election of Barack Obama resulted in newspapers publishing extra copies of their post-Election Day editions because the demand for them was greater than that for the latest generation of cell phones. For once, the Internet editions weren't enough to satisfy people - because you really can't keep electronic imaging on your computer screen as a memento. Major newspapers, including this one, sold tens of thousands of extra copies proclaiming the election of the first black president, and enterprising folks began reselling them for a premium - in some cases $100 or more above the newsstand price - on eBay and other Web sites.

Newspapers reporting on Mr. Obama's win aren't the only hot sellers. T-shirts bearing the next president's likeness are available, as well as Obama calendars and picture books. In fact, it's fair to say that there has never been anything in our political history to equal the hysteria over this man's victory, and the personality cult that has grown up around him is easily as incredible and illogical as the one that adored, without reservation or restraint, the late Princess Diana.

Mr. Obama's single accomplishment is engineering his remarkable run for the presidency. There is nothing else, at least not yet. As we know, caveats are not welcomed in the warm afterglow of this election. We are all supposed to revel in the symbolism of the man's election. We are not supposed to notice his start as a left-wing Chicago politician, or his radical stance on abortion, nor are we to ask what those chants from adoring crowds of "Yes, we can" actually mean. We can? Do? What?

British commentator Peter Hitchens spent considerable time covering the Obama candidacy and is aghast at its success: "The swooning frenzy over the choice of Barack Obama as president of the United States," he writes, "must be one of the most absurd waves of self-deception and swirling fantasy ever to sweep through an advanced civilization. At least, Mandela-worship - its nearest equivalent - is focused on a man who actually did something."

I don't agree with Mr. Hitchens' perspective that last Tuesday was "the night we waved goodbye to America ... our last best hope on Earth." I'm thrilled to see an end to the Bush years, and I certainly am not of the mind that a John McCain victory would have been a far better result, but I am skeptical of the notion, so eagerly embraced by whites proud of their anti-racist vote for the black guy, that Mr. Obama will somehow usher in a new era of racial enlightenment, and bring about, in his words, a "new dawn" while heeding a "timeless creed."

What we can actually look forward to is the re-emergence of former Clinton administration officials as the key figures in an Obama administration. His first appointment was that of Rep. Rahm Emanuel as his White House chief of staff. The Chicago congressman was a Clinton aide who left government to pick up a few million dollars in the investment banking business, ran for Congress, got elected and is renowned for his fundraising powers as a Wall Street bundler and for his hard-line backing of the Iraq war. Mr. Emanuel's reputation is one of hyper-partisanship, and the thought of him reaching across the aisle with a handshake instead of a closed fist is hard to imagine. Sunday, though, he insisted on ABC News' This Week that his boss would live up to his promise to govern in a bipartisan manner.

As for the vanquished Republicans, it was time for them to go. When they gained control of consolidated government, they quickly moved far, far away from their professed belief in limited government, constitutional safeguards of our liberties and responsible stewardship of the treasury. Theirs is the most recent example of the corruptive influence of power. While it's now time for them to regroup, rethink and reload, it's the Democrats' turn to be top dog.

We can join with the Obama worshipers - though with far more trepidation - in hoping that the new president will prove to be as much of a miracle worker in office as he was in the seeking of it.

Ron Smith can be heard weekdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., on 1090 WBAL-AM and WBAL.com. His column appears Wednesdays in The Baltimore Sun. His e-mail is rsmith@wbal.com.

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