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Election 2008: The Winners

We thought about adding John McCain to the Winners list, as his loss on Tuesday assured that he won’t have the unenviable task of fixing the colossal clusterf@&% left behind by the Bush administration. But then we’d have to add Barack Obama to the Losers list (congratulations bub, it’s your problem now), and that just doesn’t seem right, because if anyone deserves to be at the top of the Winners list, it’s……:

Barack Obama

MT: Whatever Barack Obama has for breakfast, that’s what you should be ordering. Because whatever it is, it tastes like WIN. Who got the right position on Iraq – don’t go –from the very start, without which there is no room for a Democrat to run and beat Hillary Clinton? WIN. Who intuitively knew what message Americans were looking for and had the intellectual and charismatic talents to deliver it? WIN. Who showed his critics what community organizer can do with a few million passionate campaign workers? WIN. Who made a series of one smart decision after another in a campaign that will be studied for years to come? WIN. Who overcame racial and ideological barriers to chart a career that almost looks like a 90* angle? Barack Hussein Obama, that’s who. And what did he do when his opponents said “Obama cannot win?” WIN.

JW: Few people, if any, in the world have ever made so many billions of people happy. It’s that simple. This is the kind of feat that has traditionally been reserved for people like the Dali Lama, Pele or Oprah. But now the person who should have the popular support of the world will: the president of the United States. Obama has also appeared to have weathered one of the most brutal campaign cycles of all time. His family is still intact, his daughters aren’t knocked up and he still talks to Joe Biden. Barack Obama may have been the best presidential candidate in my lifetime, but the McCain camp certainly did set a low bar.

MT: Adding:

The World

JW: This is what the world looked like upon hearing that Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States of America, the streets of the world looked something like a combination of The World Cup (in which every country has won) and New Years Eve (if it occurred only once in a lifetime), except that it actually mattered. Barack Obama’s personal background is the most international of any president of the United States. His ability to break down racial, cultural and political barriers make him not only a citizen of the United States, but also of the world.

MT: Relax, world. Like the man said, he’s got this. “Americans can always be relied upon to do the right thing”, said Winston Churchill, “but only after they have exhausted every other alternative.” Maybe so, but just when the global community thinks we’ve lost our mojo, when our critics and friends alike think we’re incapable of achieving the seemingly impossible, when the limit of our potential appears to have been reached, we find something more. Yes we can.

Democrats

MT: By the mid-90’s, complacency and a lost sense of purpose had relegated the once dominant Democratic Party to a congressional minority. Why should voters go for Republican Lite when they could have the real thing? Democrats responded to Republican bait, and talked about issues in Republican frames. They worried more that Republicans would call them names than how best to serve the country. More than anything, they forgot they were Democrats. And while it took the unmitigated failure of the Bush administration to remind them, they found their voice and realized a clear contrast with Republicans based on big-D Democratic principles was a winner with voters. The call for “more and better Democrats” was answered. And people responded. Allow me to demonstrate:

With the exception of Appalachia, Arkansas, Oklahoma and some scattered areas of the deep South, America is voting more Democratic. So congratulations, Donks. Don’t forget how you got here.

JW: Well, Dems, you finally pulled it together. You got technology, many Republicans the world on your side, and harnessed these special ingredients for a well-deserved win. While the Republican Primary stand-off became a choice between the lesser of the evils, your lot of choices—at least two of them—were top-notch. While the Republican National Convention looked and sounded like a hood-less KKK board meeting inside a small-town bank, your convention made the light show at Disneyland look anti-climactic. You won over people from the Republic Party the Independent Party and the Green Party. If you were on a high school football team, you would get the award for the “Most Improved Player.”

Howard Dean

MT: When Gov. Howard Dean was in the middle of the 2004 campaign rant that would forever be known as the “Dean Scream,” he was describing what would later be termed the “50-state strategy.” Just prior to the “Yeeeeaaarrrrghhh!!!”, he was running down a list of traditionally red states that he thought Democrats should be competitive in, and that would be the key to putting a Dem in the White House. People laughed, “Oh, that nutty Howard Dean! Spreading out money in resources where Republicans are stronger and more likely to say mean things to us. Hahahahaha! That’ll never work!” Dean didn’t secure the 2004 nomination, but his 50-state strategy and mastery of new online fundraising and organizing tools was the blueprint that Barack Obama followed, and it paid off big time. He who screams first, laughs last.

JW: If any single person paved the way for Obama’s win on Tuesday, it was Howard Dean. His grassroots organizing, appeal to the youth and ability to energize the base was unprecedented in the early days of the DNC primary campaign season. Obama ceased on this unfulfilled potential, which had grown after nearly four more years of Bush. Dean also has demonstrated strong leadership as the DNC Chair and has helped lead the party to where it is today.

Obama Supporters

MT: Speaking of what Obama has for breakfast, these people were hungry. From the phone banking to the fundraising, from spreading the message on message boards and blogs to knocking on doors in an unprecedented ground game, those people who got out and hustled to make Tuesday happen deserve a clap on the back. The last few years have been bleak, with America’s moral and financial credibility on the brink of the abyss. It’s easy in this culture to be uninvolved, distracted, and before you know it, we’re over the edge. More than just those who voted, the people who put Barack Obama on their collective backs and dragged him to the dance in the first place did us all a great favor. Cheers, mates.

JW: Never before had I personally known so many people who were so active in this campaign. To support the presidential candidate in the case of Obama had gone from something passive to an active way of life. “Supporting” went from meaning “voting for” or “putting a yard sign in front of my house” to “phone banking, driving to swing states, canvassing, donating my much-needed and hard-earned dollars to the campaign,” “throwing fundraisers,’ “Facebooking,” and “declaring far and wide that Obama was the best choice.” As a reward, not only do Obama supporters get to see their choice in the White House come January, but they have the satisfaction of knowing they personally and directly help put him there.

America

MT: Aside from the relief of having an adult in charge that doesn’t look at actual governing like the continuation of one long political campaign, America can now start to heal itself from eight years of mis-rule. The importance of having an actual Constitutional scholar in charge of defending the Constitution cannot be understated. The effect of Obama’s election will have a profound impact on the American psyche, all of it good. America can take pride in showing to the world, once again, what it’s like to truly lead. It’s cool to be an American again.

JW: The American people have finally taken steps to reclaiming their country with the election of Obama. Of course there were several set-backs in this election, including the ban of gay marriage in three states, but overall, America has come out of the 2008 as a champion. With a high voter turnout, more people now have their say in the policies and people who lead this country, and more people can sleep better at night knowing that the president-to-be represent more of them.

Dogs

JW: As if the Obama girls’ choice of a puppy over a kitten didn’t generate enough publicity for dogs after Obama’s speech, the media worldwide has been going nuts with turning Obama’s puppy statement into a story [news.google.com].

MT: I always had a soft spot for Barney, ever since President Klutz dropped him on the tarmac after getting off Air Force One once, but biting a Reuters reporter covering his daily walk for a fluff story? [wonkette.com] That’s just awesome. I’ll bet Bush wishes he could do that.

Nate Silver

JW: This guy. His projections were more accurate than any single pollster’s in the election. His path to successful political forecasting began as a baseball statistician working for a think tank in Chicago. He began applying the same strategies to the political polls on his website, fivethirtyeight.com [fivethirtyeight.com] and ended up predicting the final breakdown of electoral and popular votes one-tenth of a point off from what actually occurred.

MT: Seriously, this guy is scary accurate. What he did was the polling equivalent of hitting a three point shot from a passing airplane. John Zogby is eating his dust right now. 538 is now going to be the go-to source for the next few election cycles. Congrats.

Katie Couric

JW: Despite Sarah Palin’s $150,000 plus clothing budget, CBS Evening News anchor, Katie Couric showed the world that the empress, indeed, has no clothes. In her series of interviews [www.cbsnews.com] she let Palin speak for herself and expose her true ineptness and ignorance in a way that no strategist, aid or national presidential campaign could cover up. Even when it came time for the variety shows to parody these interviews, they drew directly from the Couric/Palin script [www.huffingtonpost.com].

MT: If there’s a “Showed Most Improvement” award for the national media, Katie Couric won it hands down. I’ve never been much of a fan of Katie’s brand of Journalism Lite, but, perhaps awareness of her reputation as a media lightweight and sense that she wasn’t going to out-perk Sarah Palin, Katie stepped up her game and actually took it to the Thrilla from Wasilla. Watching her press Palin to name McCain’s reform accomplishments until she essentially cried “uncle!” was a classic campaign moment and a feather in Couric’s cap.

Hawaii

JW: The union’s 50th state will never again be thought of merely for its exotic vacation destinations and production of sugar. We now will think of it as home to many, including white people from Kansas! Hawaii also showed us where its heart is by giving the highest share of its votes [www.cqpolitics.com] to Obama. Just don’t expect Obama to exploit grass skirts and leis the way Connecticut native George W. Bush popularized cowboy boots and belt buckles, Obama is the real deal.

MT: Hawaii. Not just for elitists anymore [www.huffingtonpost.com] Shaka bra.

Jamie Wong and Michael Turner

To our readers and those who have followed BACK TALK this last month or so, the pleasure was all ours. Thanks for your comments, thank you for voting and thanks for being so damned good-looking. You know you are. And thanks to the Sundance Channel for giving us the opportunity to riff on this special moment in American history. It was fun. Be sure to check out the fine programming on the Sundance Channel now that you’re not glued to the nightly news for campaign updates. And if you don’t have the Sundance Channel, call your local cable carrier. You’ll be glad you did. [/shameless plug]

Peace out.

– Jamie Wong & Michael Turner