First Posted: 1/15/2009
Because this is a family newspaper, we will paraphrase the acerbic Bill Maher, who has made a pretty good living mocking Christians for 60 minutes each week on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
On the Friday before the election, Maher said Americans were so fed up with George W. Bush they had decided to elect a black man with a Muslim name.
Barack Obama is half-black and a Christian, but you get the joke.
And we all get the point: Obama, whose mother was a 1960s hippie and whose father was an African he never came to know, overcame titanic odds not only to win the presidency, but in a resounding fashion, with 364 electoral votes, more than twice what John McCain garnered, and 54 percent of the popular vote.
A year ago, it seemed impossible.
Obama not only overcame Hillary Clinton, the original heir to the throne, and her still popular husband Bill, but he dispatched McCain, a war hero whose experience dwarfed his opponent’s.
Obama managed this despite a middle name of Hussein, a pedestrian resume and a campaign chest of promises that will never be realized. You can’t give tax cuts to 95 percent of a populace when 40 percent don’t pay taxes, a riddle that many Americans never solved.
But Obama wasn’t without his allies. There was the Bush administration. The economic turmoil was perfectly timed. Victory in Iraq removed it as an issue.
And there was an adoring media that was more interested in cross-examining Joe the Plumber than investigating Obama’s relationships with characters with shady pasts. How is it possible that we have yet to see an interview with William Ayers?
Obama’s biggest hurdle was the long-held belief that a black man couldn’t be elected president because this country has yet to unshackle itself from its own bigotry. Obama did profit to a degree as about 95 percent of blacks favored him, even though on social issues he is out of step with his brothers. But there were not enough votes cast in favor of Obama because he is black to cancel all those cast against him because he is black.
Obama won for a simple reason: Americans bought his message of hope — his insistence that we can do better, that America doesn’t have to be divided between have’s and have-not’s, that health care is a right, that war isn’t a certainty, that children can learn, and that corporations have an obligation beyond the next dollar.
It would be impossible to overstate the significance of Obama’s victory to Black America, which was easy to see on Tuesday night as grown men wept. We trust that the more recent generations of blacks come to appreciate the historical significance of Nov. 4, 2008.
If Barack Obama can grow up to become president of the United States, then the highest ceiling for Black America has now been crashed. Hope has never been more real.