Thursday, November 06, 2008

Full Circle

All good stories have beginning, middles, and ends. This blog first mentioned Barack Obama on July 6, 2007, when I suggested the candidate hire Keith Olbermann as a speechwriter. The discussion heated up in the primaries (the post I made after Hillary's win in Texas and Ohio received the most comments of any non-HP-related post here ever), and returned in these last two months before the general election, culminating in my attempt at a St. Crispin's Day speech* below.

The climax, of course, happened off-blog on Tuesday night, and for me and for most New Yorkers, it was pretty fantastic. I spent the evening in Rockefeller Center with James, Melissa, and several other good HP people; you can read Melissa's account of the countdown here. That night and the release of Deathly Hallows will stand as my two most magical all-New York nights ever -- the biggest excitement, the biggest relief, the happiest.

Quickly followed by sobriety, because even before Barack's speech was over, he had called for service and sacrifice, and you could see in his face the weight of the last two years and the worry of the next four. But there was a kind of relief in that too -- for we, the people at least: the relief of leaving behind old, unbound, selfish ways and taking up a common purpose, which might not be easy, but which will have the honor of work and discipline if we can do it. One blogger I read somewhere pointed out that the natural place to channel the energy of both Obama's and McCain's legion of volunteers was into a national service program: If we could all give an hour a week to make calls for or blog about a political campaign, why couldn't we spend that same hour now at a local soup kitchen? If I could take a weekend to go to Pennsylvania for Barack, why couldn't I take another weekend for Habitat for Humanity? I don't have a good answer for why not, and so I hope to try to keep that energy going in my own life, if at a rather lower degree of insanity than this campaign caused in me.

So this is my last Barack Obama election post until 2012 -- a happy end for now, and a hopeful resolve going forward, into our new beginning in January 2009 and beyond.

* Man, what's happened to Kenneth Branagh in the last decade? It's like God said, "You divorced Emma Thompson? You fool! You shall be punished! Here's a role in Wild Wild West."


  1. There's an interesting section in the new website about national service. I think it's going to be a big thing in this administration--or I hope so. And (to make it children's lit related) literacy volunteers could be a big part of that. Read aloud to kids once a week? Sure!

  2. Libby -- one of our local schools was on academic alert a few years back. Our church called for volunteers. Even after all this time, we have folks who meet at the school once or twice a week to read for/with the children or whatever the teacher needs. (I worked in the library.) And the school pulled up their failing 'grade' and is in the clear. Service is happening.

    Wanda in AL

  3. We were watching here in Cleveland, and I don't guess I'll ever forget the moment they announced our state had gone for Obama. After the last two elections, it is the most immense and expansive feeling to be part of the communal joy!

  4. Don't worry about Kenneth--he's here in London, starring in a Stoppard adaptation of Ivanov and getting raves.

    I have never wanted to be back in NYC as badly as I did Tuesday night.

  5. Meanwhile, in Missouri ... I went to work on Wednesday, and it was SO QUIET. The resident grumpy gal stirred her coffee as I got my tea and said that people should have voted their morals. So that was fun!!

    But every time I turn on the R&B stations out of KC, 107.3 and 103.3, there's all this love and happiness pouring out of the speakers, so I've been spending a lot of time over there.

    I like the public service thing. I'll check that out, and maybe I can figure out a way in which my daughter can help out with that. Yay Obama!!

  6. Here in Iowa, the a good thing for us to spend our service time on is to keep in touch with our elected representatives. I mean phone calls and emails from us NOT from them. If we watched our congress people, governors, and legilature more closely, we would not have to "throw the bums out" as frequently. Perhaps more would get done. Perhaps they would know that partisianship is NOT an American virtue. JK

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