January 4, 2008

The Audacity of Hope Indeed

Barack has won Iowa and he poses a challenge to black americans as surely as he does to Hillary Clinton. His win last night challenges us to embrace a potential reality that while intellectually plausible, has I suspect for most of us, been purposely kept at an emotional distance. The potential reality that we might perhaps see the first African American president of the United States in... our.... lifetime.

Do we dare imagine it? Hope for it? Wish it? Obama is daring us to do so. His commanding defeat of his rivals in a state that is 94% white and largely rural is like Obama screaming at us "Come on! I can do this!".

Eminently qualified, credible and bonus, he's black. A black president in our lifetime. I've always believed that one day there would be a black president. But if you had asked me if it would occur in my lifetime, I think my answer would have been no. I would have been more likely to say that it would be in my children's lifetime. In fact, I would often say to and about my middle son, Noah (age5, feature video of the day), that he would be the first black president. After Obama's win in Iowa, a small, quiet voice in my spirit is whispering "maybe, just maybe". First Lady Michelle Obama. What about that? An accomplished, classy, intelligent and attractive black woman as First Lady. A woman who's grace, intellect and character is imminently respectable. I so want the opportunity to say to my 8 year old daughter, "thats Michelle Obama, the First Lady".

I want to believe. This blog issued its caucus prediction 5 days in advance and we said that Clinton would edge Obama out to win Iowa. That prediction was 40% analysis and 60% self defense against disappointment. Because as much as I was rooting for him, I couldn't quite bring myself to BELIEVE he could defeat the Clinton machine in Iowa.

Iowa is the end of the beginning. In 5 days comes New Hampshire, Clinton's next opportunity to blunt Obama's growing momentum. The compressed and lightning round nature of the primaries to come may very well favor Obama now. Having bloodied Clinton badly in Iowa, I have every expectation that the Clinton machine will unload everything they have against Obama now. But five days is not a lot of time to drive up Obama's negatives before New Hampshire votes. It remains to be seen what if any type of bump Obama receives in NH from his Iowa win. But if he manages another win there, his momentum going into SC will be massive. A win in NH will fire up black voters in SC who will respond to evidence of electability by Obama, which we now have tasted with this Iowa win. His challenge to Clinton is real, a clear and present danger to their dynastic dream of a convention coronation.

This battle is not over, not by a long shot. In fact, Iowa was the opening bell of this heavyweight fight. Obama scored a knockdown, but not a knockout. I and the rest of America, will be watching and hoping that Obama has the staying power, the resilience and the killer instinct necessary to survive and win the bloodsport of nomination politics and eventually to become the leader of the free world.

The audacity of hope indeed.