Friday, January 02, 2009

Year in Review: Politics

If 2008 didn't leave you exhausted, you either weren't paying attention or you suffer from neuro-chemical imbalance (which may help explain Rob Blagojevich). 2008 seemed like a long political year, perhaps because it started in earnest in early 2007. I first took note of Barack Obama's potential in February, 2007—eleven months before voting began—when he attracted 15,000 supporters to a rally in Austin, Texas.
Jack Markell followed a similar path to the governor's office. As the challenger to the party favorite, he too built up a parallel organization. Back in 2007, when others were talking up a deal for him to back out of challenging John Carney, I took note of a simple but overlooked fact:
Jack Markell had never closed his 2006 campaign office.
Last February, I told Beth Miller of the News Journal
we were in for a terrific election season:
"It's sort of like having a front-row seat to the Super Bowl, the Tour de France at Alpe D'Huez, and Tiger Woods winning the Masters."
This was after Michelle and Barack Obama had visited Wilmington in the course of a week. Michelle Obama showed herself to be a speaker of considerable power and skill. Her husband attracted the biggest crowd anyone had ever seen to Rodney Square.
I refused to believe that a primary would harm the Democratic nominees for governor and president, as many predicted. The belief that disunity would doom the presidential nominee was strangely persistent. During the Democratic National Convention, Allan Loudell of WDEL repeatedly asked about reports that the Clintons were somehow less than enthusiastic about Obama. All I could do was to report what I saw: Bill and Hillary Clinton standing before the crowd and the country saying vote for this guy, while the PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) crowd was relegated to demonstrations of a dozen or so non-delegates on a Denver street corner. I never talked to a delegate who was less than enthusiastic about Obama.
Never did I have a better seat for a political contest than at the convention. Joe Biden’s selection as Obama’s running mate got the Delaware delegation moved to the front of the hall, giving me a seat on the floor. By Wednesday night, that would mean literally not just figuratively, as I was relegated to sitting on the floor in the aisle,
where I found Moe Rocca sitting next to me.
We all know how the story turned out. Jack Markell narrowly bested John Carney in the primary. Carney showed his class by immediately lining up behind in rival and showing not a shred of remorse.
John McCain pulled ahead of Obama after picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. But the excitement of the culture warriors who cheered her selection was quickly eclipsed by the collapse of the world’s financial system, and with it, John McCain’s campaign. In the end, the election turned on who looked ready to handle the crisis; McCain flailed about while Obama kept his head.
The election season brought with it a new opportunity for me—
that of writing opinion pieces for a real live, big-time news organization, the Guardian. I started writing about politics, but events have led me to write more and more about the economic mess, and how to dig our way out. It should keep us all busy for the coming year.
Photo: Lore Ritscher for TommyWonk

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