05 November 2008

Okay, I'm in trouble

I can't stop blogging. I'm a zombie so I hope I'm making some sense. Here's what the wave of emotion that washed over me this morning has me thinking.

It all started very nearly 45 years ago, on Nov. 22, 1963. For three-quarters of my existence — I'll soon be 60 years old — on a public, political, cultural level, it has been one long series of horrible, traumatic events after another. I remember:
  • John F. Kennedy assassinated
  • Vietnam war escalates
  • Malcolm X assassinated
  • Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated
  • Robert Kennedy assassinated
  • Riots at Democratic Party convention in Chicago
  • Richard Nixon elected president
  • Vietnam war spins out of control
  • George Wallace shot down in attempted assassination
  • Nixon re-elected in a landslide
  • Jesse Helms elected to the U.S. Senate
  • Watergate
  • Destroying villages in Vietnam "to save them"
  • Napalm and Agent Orange
  • The first petroleum shock
  • Nixon resigns
  • Two assassination attempts against Gerald Ford
  • Inflation
  • The Iran hostage crisis
  • The second petroleum crisis
  • Ronald Reagan elected president
  • Reagan seriously wounded in assassination attempt
  • Reagan hints that Martin Luther King was probably "a communist"
  • Reagan vetoes sanctions against the apartheid government in South Africa (fortunately the Senate overrides the veto)
  • Reagan's "voodoo economics" leads to crushing federal deficits
  • Famine in Africa
  • The space shuttle explodes on take-off
  • Grenada and Iran-Contra
  • The first Gulf War
  • Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill
  • Clinton universal health care plan goes down in flames
  • Newt Gingrich
  • The politics of personal destruction
  • Monica Lewinsky
  • Impeachment
  • Supreme Court intervention makes George W. Bush president despite loss of the popular vote
  • Dick Cheney becomes vice-president
  • September 11, 2001
  • Bush invades Iraq on false pretexts
  • Bush deficits make Reagan's seem like peanuts
  • The space shuttle explodes on landing approach
  • Bush re-elected to second term against all odds
  • Thousands killed and maimed in Iraq, but no ceremonies or acknowledgment of that reality in the U.S.
  • The Surge
  • The stock market crash and the bailout of the wasteful rich people responsible for it
Finally, in 2008, 45 years after it all started, there is a ray of sunlight. Barack Obama is actually elected president of the United States. A new era dawns. Can it be?

I saw this in the New York Times: Overheard in long line at a polling place in North Carolina. One person asks another: "How long have you been waiting?" The answer: "200 years."

I guess 45 years isn't so bad after all.


  1. Ken, rarely have I felt so elated. I too tend to have tears well into my eyes...
    I agree with you, the last forty years have been pretty awful starting with the assassination of JFK
    Hope things turn out the way we want them, even slowly!

  2. Both McCain's and Obama's speeches were up to the day! There's hope.

  3. Ken

    I was surprised when I checked and saw that you were still posting at 6 am ( your time). It is a historic moment for all of us, Americans or neighbours of or friends of. Let's hope that the ground work that Obama will lay down during his terms will help the country and the world for the next 40 yrs or more. We all can breathe better knowing who will be holding the reins on 1-20-2009.

  4. P.S. Palin's back to obscurity she shouldn't have left in the first place. There's hope!

  5. chm

    May be she may try to run for the Senate in the near future or ask to replace Ted Stevens

  6. I have a young English neighbor who is sometimes surprised at how sour I am (was) about my own country. My explanations aren't as good as yours.

    It is a happy day, and I have hope.

  7. Just reading your posts and the comments are bringing tears to my eyes. Thanks for waking up, America, to the insanity that has ruled for at least the past 8 years.

    Thanks to Ken's readers for international support!

    Have a great day!

  8. Last night Robert Kaiser wrote on the Washington Post discussion, "We have a new country." I thought, "I've got my country back." It's not in the shape it was, and I hope Obama and the new team can bring it back even better. I am hopeful!

  9. A somber posting, Ken, but it captures so well the disappointments and heartaches that have been part of the American landscape in our lifetime.

    Perhaps, finally, we can begin to put our national nightmares behind us, but the tasks before Obama and America are mind-bending -- two wars, an economic debacle, a severely tarnished reputation to restore, and a venomous right-wing ideology that believes the likes of Sarah Palin should be setting the course for our future.

    I have been thinking for some time that Obama is the perfect metaphor in that he brings together white and black America because he was raised in both worlds. I think we will see a uniter, not a divider (I shudder when I think of who used that line in 2000) in Obama, and a commitment to civil discourse which has become such a scarce commodity of late.

    Today, there are a few glimmers of hope. There's a new day coming, Ken, and it was worth the wait.

  10. Here in Virginia....we are so proud that the state went blue !!!it will be wonderful to have intelligent people in the white house......Michelle will be a fantastic first lady......it was an exhausting election process....but a very exciting victory

  11. i'm 60 and i feel like that too. i didn't realize what a long weird trip it's been -- what a burden it has felt like -- until i woke up this morning with somebody i can respect in the white house. for the first time.

  12. I'm suffering from 'raw eye' syndrome today, and its not the woodsmoke in my eyes either. I feel so privelidged to have lived for 63 years and to see such a vision of hope and optimism.
    Sorry this will have to be posted 'annon' I have lost my password.


  13. Isn't it wonderful to be an American, again?

  14. Not since JFK and RFK and MLK has there been so much hope in the hearts of Americans. It's like the three of them banded together in heaven to send the spirit to Barack Obama as he was growing up and becoming a man.

    It's been a long, long, long, long time since I've been proud and happy to be an American.


  15. you forgot the Watts riot!

    best thing about the election was the 62% approval of Floida's amendment 2 which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman!

  16. I can't describe the elation we felt when the networks called it at 8:00:01 PST. McCain's speech was graceful (the only lie was about the value that Palin added to the ticket), but Obama's speech was pure inspirational. The way he made the transition between hope and the repeated refrain of "yes, we can!" was music to ears, like yours, that have been waiting for something in the American fabric that we could believe in for the last 40+ years.

    The only cloud on our horizon locally is the way Californians have managed to use the constitution for the first time to institutionalize injustice (paraphrasing Newsome, who said it much better).

    Sleep well, Ken. Tomorrow is a brand new day.


  17. As I told a friend of mine after the election, Chicago may not be able to field a baseball team good enough to make it to the World Series, but the city sure does know how to give a party. There were 250,000 people cheering in Grant Park Chicago last night. The whole world cheered. Obama brings hope and promise for a new tomorrow.

  18. Four little girls died in a bombing at 16th St Baptist Church in Birmingham September 15, 1963. This event foreshadowed JFK.

    Who knows how many blacks were lynched--my father saw a lynching in KY and never forgot it. His telling me about this event gave me an awareness of the evil that we have in our history.
    We are a better country now.

    The NAACP was founded in February 2009, so it will have something worth celebrating when it turns 100 not long after Obama's inauguration.

    Thanks for your memories, Ken. I'm three years older, so we share many of the same tragedies.

  19. Ken,
    As far as I know, as of Wednesday evening North Carolina time, they're still counting absentee and provisional ballots and have not yet called the state.

    However, Obama has a lead of 11-12 thousand last time I check. Fingers crossed.

  20. Anonymous, is this Florida amendment 2 meant to also protect the sanctity of divorce?

  21. As one of the former wives (the third, I think) of our local congressman, a "family values" Republican, once said, "Tim is so much in favor of the sanctity of marriage that he's done it five times."


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