Wednesday, 5 November 2008

5 wholly predictable things that got me a bit misty today

I went to bed last night around 1am, after Pennsylvania was called and Christopher Hitchens' just-vacated chair at the BBC roundtable looked to be filled by a slash of hair that I feared was Maureen Dowd. It wasn't just the deja vu aspect: I'd had a fair bit of wine to drink at a party earlier in the evening (not an election party neither). But as of this morning, I was ready to enjoy a little bit of the drama and mood music in immediate retrospect; and the slight vino-induced fug, added to my creeping sentimental middle years, made me prone to one or two watery-eyed moments, such as:
1. The cover of the Daily Mirror, much the best out of all the papers' choices, in getting not just Obama and his wife walking across the victory-night platform, but also their daughters Sasha and Malia, 10 and 7, who are now going to go live in the White House. There's never been any getting away from arguments about the n├ęgritude of any black man (or woman) seeking high office in America: the arguments have usually started, understandably, among African-Americans themselves. That Obama is not the descendent of slaves was, inevitably, soon remarked upon; and some who did not support him wondered nonetheless why he didn't make more of the white half of his parentage. But Obama's daughters are unquestionably two lovely little black-skinned girls.
2. The BBC evening rehash/highlights show replaying that money snippet of the 'I Have A Dream' speech: "... that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
3. Jesse Jackson's face, stricken, after the declaration from the networks came in. I don't think people remember too well the number of primaries he won in 1984 and 1988. Those were big deals. He wasn't up to it, finally, and he's said and done a load of stupid things since; Jeremy Paxman had a crack at him on Monday's night's Newsnight for the infamous off-mic 'cut his nuts off' remark. But Jackson replied sensibly, about the way Obama had at times 'talked down' to blacks, urging responsibility upon them as if everyone else in America was a paragon of austere propriety. Paxman didn't listen to the answer, just asked the question again, obviously interested only in the stuff about 'nuts', which, in fairness, is partly Jackson's own fault. But one suspects he sees his own faults a bit more clearly now, and surely did last night.
4. McCain tamping down the crowd when they booed Obama’s name during his concession speech. He's had to do a lot of that lately, and did it well. No wonder Obama described his phone call as 'extraordinarily gracious.'
5. McCain again, referring to 'the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.' That's McCain's gift, no question. The last six weeks were a long leavetaking for him, but he was at least prepped and ready to strike his plangent valedictory notes.

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