McCain's loss is unsurprising, but the margin of Obama's victory sure is. The swing voters did it. Charisma counts. That and the fact that the right wing has been coasting for too long on the ominous "you'll be sorry..." rhetoric they've been trotting out for the last eight years. It also doesn't help that he was nearly the Democratic nominee for VP in 2004.
Governor Palin certainly didn't help, either, being an ironic choice after the repeated attacks on Obama's relative inexperience. I asked McCain-supporting coworkers about her qualifications, and the only answer I got was "she's got a cute butt." What about her record as governor? "You're a fault finder. She's got a cute butt." I rest my case. However, her foot is in the door now, and we'll certainly see more of her. As a presidential nominee? Hard to say. Ten years down the road she might have made a serious contender, but they'll have to build her up to recover the respect she lost by being tapped too early in her career. Incidentally, who's making all of these easily discredited choices, anyway? Did they learn nothing from the Jeff Gannon scandal?
Regardless of my misgivings about him, McCain's concession speech was eloquent and humble. Obviously last night was a bitter moment for him, but he said all the right things, even knowing that his career as a presidential hopeful is pretty much over. In 2004 I made comments here that were begrudgingly supportive of a McCain presidency (I won't link them here because they're embarrassing). Then, a couple of weeks later, he got back to work and reminded us all that he's still a member of his party and I started taking back my comments. Still, I think his heart is in the right place, and if he still holds sway over anybody, that's a good thing.
On racial matters: The election of a black president has probably just earned us a fair amount of worldwide respect. That's awesome, but I'm still worried that Obama is an assassination risk. I hope I'm just overreacting to this episode of This American Life (act three at about 26:40, if you're interested), and a couple of very disturbing conversations I overheard on the Amtrak back from Portland. If it does happen, however, the government will not be able to marshal the force required to quell the retaliatory uprising. Then again, we've gotten awfully good at protecting our presidents.
On a more hopeful note, damn did people come out in force to vote yesterday. I've spoken to people who have switched sides, and others who voted for the first time since college. It's gratifying enough that I happen to be on the same side as the majority, but it's impressive and slightly scary that our historically apathetic nation came out in record numbers to demand change. The changes won't happen quickly, and they may not be as broad as we'd like, but this election proves that they're happening.