obamasouthcarolina.jpg(OP-ED) I heard my first political speech of the ’08 presidential race on the car radio today. Four years ago I was so intensely invested in who won the presidency that I flew to Iowa and stood in sub-zero temperatures to volunteer for the Dean for America campaign.

Dean’s enthusiastic “screaming” into a crowded hall (filled with deafening noise) where we, his most fervent fans, were gathered (after having just lost Iowa), caused him to lose in other states and the campaign that once fed my political heart, caused it to break.

Oddly, because it was four years later nearly to the very day, I found myself glued to the radio listening to a political speech — after having stayed as far away from the primaries as I could get, so as not to have my heart broken again.

Today I listened to Barack Obama, and choked up with hope, decided I’d write in a moment when hope is still possible for me. The causcuses in Iowa have not yet begun. No concession speeches have tried to fire up a room where the flame has gone out.

There is still hope for me, a glimmer of audacity to believe that anything is possible. So, tonight, I write a list of things I liked most about Barack Obama during his speech, to a group of young people in Iowa yesterday, rebroadcast on C-Span radio today:

  1. People are calling him a hope-monger.
  2. He isn’t taking any money from PACs or federal lobbyists.
  3. He raised $100 million in mostly small donations under $100.
  4. Despite the pundits predictions, he didn’t go negative “in the end”.
  5. Some campaigns were saying he is TOO NICE to be able to fight a good fight. His response was, there is enough anger and bitter partisanship in Washington. “We don’t need more heat, we need more LIGHT”.
  6. He is like Howard Dean but without the anger.
  7. He’s not been in Washington circles long. (You can’t be considered the best person to fix a problem if you’ve been steeped in the institutions that created the problems in the first place.)
  8. He sounds very relaxed, sure of himself, funny and articulate.
  9. He has a midwestern accent. (Let’s give a northerner a try.)
  10. He didn’t vote to authorize force in Iraq.

Obama’s book is entitled, The Audacity of Hope. I’m glad I allowed myself to hope again, if only for one day.



  1. As a Canadian, I can only stand on the sidelines of your political process south of the border. However, I too felt invested in your last presidential election, as I was sure that the results would most certainly impact us here in the North, and I have to admit I was crushed by the results. I can only hope that the upcoming election brings a positive change in the administration, and I truly feel that media outlets such as this that focus on the good things that are happening in the US and around the world help enormously in influencing the hearts and minds of the electorate.

  2. Thanks, Neil. I do think that when people feed their hope here on this website, they see the usefulness of it, and it may resonate when a political campaign uses the phrase and sticks to the principles.

    On an even more hopeful note (FOR ME), Obama won Iowa last night!! …No repeat of the grief felt four years ago (felt mostly during New Hampshire voting when we realized how the media’s spin and replaying of the “scream” caused a nationwide perception of lack of credibility in the doctor whom we knew to be entirely credible.)

    Wow. I can’t believe hope won in the Democratic party!

  3. I must agree with your post, and the comments above. I wish to add some thoughts of my own. For the readers, I accompanied Geri to Iowa almost four years ago, and wrote about it here: http://www.postilion.org/politics/deanjournal.html
    Geri, when you visited with me a couple weeks ago, we spoke about the current race, and how you had purposely avoided the primaries. I told you that I saw potential for hope amongst the candidates, and I am glad that you, too, see that now. I must say, though, that what is truly remarkable to me is that not only did the Democrats vote for hope this time around, but the Republicans did too.
    I may disagree with many policy positions of Mike Huckabee, but he at least offers a hopeful vision for his party. While Rudy Giuliani is basically telling voters “Vote for me or the terrorists win!” Huckabee is saying things like “We can’t penalize the children of illegal immigrants for the sins of their parents, we’re a better people than that.”
    Right now our nation really needs hope, especially if we are ever to get out from under the economic mess caused by the rapacious sub-prime lending markets. If this election turns on fear, we are in for a long dark recession; if it turns on hope, we have a chance to fight our way back.
    We are a great nation, and a great people. We deserve a chance to show that to the world again. Whichever party you chose to support, please vote for hope!

  4. Great to see you posting here, Nic. It’s not that I didn’t see hope before this week. I dreaded hoping for an Obama victory for fear of being crushed and made to seem alien in a world of political machinery. I was, all year long, really wanting Obama to do well, same as Oprah…

    Regarding the Republican results in Iowa, and the Obama miracle, David Brooks said wrote something wonderful here:

    “I?ve been through election nights that brought a political earthquake to the country. I?ve never been through an election night that brought two.

    Barack Obama has won the Iowa caucuses. You?d have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by this. An African-American man wins a closely fought campaign in a pivotal state. He beats two strong opponents, including the mighty Clinton machine. He does it in a system that favors rural voters. He does it by getting young voters to come out to the caucuses.

    This is a huge moment. It?s one of those times when a movement that seemed ethereal and idealistic became a reality and took on political substance.

    Iowa won?t settle the race, but the rest of the primary season is going to be colored by the glow of this result. Whatever their political affiliations, Americans are going to feel good about the Obama victory, which is a story of youth, possibility and unity through diversity ? the primordial themes of the American experience.

    Yet over the course of his speeches and over the course of this campaign, he has persuaded many Iowans that there is substance here as well. He built a great organization and produced a tangible victory.

    Obama is changing the tone of American liberalism, and maybe American politics, too.”

  5. Interesting that you picked David Brooks column. I read that Friday morning and thought how much it sounded liuke something his “Murderer’s Row” fellow Frank Rich wrote a few weeks ago:

    “What really may be going on here is a mirror image of the phenomenon that has upended Hillary Clinton?s ?inevitability? among Democrats. Like Senator Obama, Mr. Huckabee is the youngest in his party?s field. (At 52, he?s also younger than every Democratic contender except Mr. Obama, who is 46.) Both men have a history of speaking across party and racial lines. Both men possess that rarest of commodities in American public life: wit. Most important, both men aspire (not always successfully) to avoid the hyper-partisanship of the Clinton-Bush era.”

    In today’s Times comes Rich’s latest piece:
    “They Didn?t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”
    “AFTER so many years of fear and loathing, we had almost forgotten what it?s like to feel good about our country. On Thursday night, that long-dormant emotion came rushing back, like an old dream that pops out of the deepest recesses of memory, suddenly as clear as light. ‘They said this day would never come,’ said Barack Obama, and yet here, right before us, was indisputable evidence that it had.”

    Watching post caucus coverage one cannot escape that the new themes of this campaign year are “Hope” and “Change” This may be the best news of a good news story.

  6. Nic,

    Great article you linked to by Frank Rich. thanks for that.
    I’m going to take the link out until I can figure out how to embed links in comments because the long URL is forcing my article to bleed into other columns.

    Cheers ( a much cheerier future is blooming in America)…

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