LET'S TAKE A BREAK FROM OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING TO TAKE A LOOK BACK AT WHAT WAS CONSIDERED THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF MY LIFETIME -- UNTIL THE CURRENT MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF MY LIFETIME.
THAT WOULD BE 2008, WHICH SEEMS MORE LIKE LIGHT YEARS AGO THAN A MERE EIGHT YEARS. HERE ARE EXCEPTS FROM KIKO'S HOUSE POSTS:
(FEBRUARY 18) Let us pray that 2008 heralds not only a new realignment but that the year lives up to its promise. The initial omens are good. Whether prodded by the repo man or concern for personal freedoms, a gratifying number of Americans have awakened from their slumber.
Judging from the Democratic presidential race -- its sheer excitement and dynamism standing in marked contrast to the dreary, undersubscribed Republican affair that has breach birthed a change-allergic septuagenerian from a field of white men virtually undistinguishable on the issues -- many voters view choosing a successor to George Bush as a referendum on change.
Make no mistake about it: America has not necessarily transcended race, let alone gender. But many of the voters who will determine who the next president of the United State is are desperate to transcend the darkness visited upon them by Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzalez.
That is why, in the first big change unfolding in this infant year, the wind is at Barack Obama's back, Hillary Clinton has her back against a firewall and John McCain has little chance of getting the Republican Party back in the game.
(APRIL 7) Anyone who takes a politician's statements literally over and over again is either a hopeless optimist or a fool. Or likely both in the case of John McCain supporters upset over the cottage industry in misquoting his statement about being just fine with American involvement in Iraq for 100 years.
Back on January 3 at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, McCain said that he could see a 100-year American presence in
Iraqlike the U.S.'s presence in Japanand South Korea"where Americans are not being injured or harmed or killed."
But to keep focusing on the contextual sleight of hand employed by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and a small army of pundits, Yours Truly included, in not taking McCain's comment literally is to miss the larger and more important point: Dragging Japan and South Korea, let alone any other historic antecedent involving an American presence in a foreign country, into the Iraq quagmire is like a stripper wearing pasties to conform with a no-total-nudity law.
(MAY 14) I have a theory about West Virginia, the state with the "Wild and Wonderful" slogan and the first bearer of good tidings for Hillary Clinton since her accountant told her it was okay to lend herself another few million bucks in her quest to defy gravity. West Virginians aren't irredeemably racist as some commentators portray them, they just don't like any politician who is not a white male, and despite her lopsided 41-point victory there yesterday Clinton is no Mountain Mama, merely their version of sloppy seconds. . . .
Obama's race will be a huge factor in the fall and the big question is whether people who will not vote for the nominee simply because of his skin color and/or because they falsely believe he is a Muslim can be offset by new Democratic voters who don't give a fig about race, already registered blacks, more affluent white voters and Independents.
(JUNE 4) In the end, the protean Barack Obama did what was best for the Democratic Party in not declaring that it was over until he had clinched the requisite number of delegates while Hillary Clinton, smiling through gnashed teeth, refused to give the trailblazing nominee in waiting his due. Nevertheless, you can practically feel the tectonic plates of the political universal slide into alignment, and John McCain should be afraid. Very afraid.
(JUNE 12) Like radio waves reaching earth from some cosmic calamity millennia ago, the yarbling of Hillary Clinton sycophants who believe that her candidacy was gang banged into extinction by the mainstream media, right-wing bloggers and Barack Obama acolytes can be faintly heard, although it is so much background noise as Clinton herself and practically everyone else who is determined to take back America link arms and march toward November.
Has it only been five days since Clinton’s extraordinarily gracious concession speech? It seems like light years in this corner of the universe where the political landscape changes by the news cycle, and yet some diehards just can't seem to face up to the reality that the fancy evening gowns they bought so they could dance the night away with Bill and Hill at her inaugural balls will have to be returned.
(JULY 29) The desperation of John McCain -- ranging from character attacks to outright lies to repeated shifts on the issues -- is symptomatic of a candidate scrambling to keep his head above water a few days before an election, not 15 weeks out.
This sad state of affairs is the result of two realities: McCain would be a weak candidate in any election year, but he has been rendered weaker still because of the albatross of George Bush and a cascade of bad news at home and abroad that is beyond his control. Meanwhile, Barack Obama is a strong if not fully rounded candidate who has the wind at his back because that news plays to his advantage.
(AUGUST 15) As uncomfortable as the subject may be for people for whom the protection of privacy is more important than the corrosive effects of lying and hypocrisy on politics, the more that I learn about John Edwards' romp with Rielle Hunter, the more Elizabeth Edwards reminds me of Hillary Clinton. Minus the cancer, of course.
In fact, the parallels are rather stunning.
Both women worshiped at the altar of political prominence and power, so much so that they overlooked clear evidence of their husbands' violation of their wedding vows. They contributed to their husbands' phony public personas as straight arrows and then circled their own wagons when confronted with the truth.
(OCTOBER 9) There is little question that the presidential race will tighten as Election Day approaches. It always does. But absent an apocalyptic event, Barack Obama will cruise across the finish line ahead of John McCain in the most important election since Franklin Roosevelt beat Herbert Hoover in the depths of the Great Depression. . . .
This brings me to the second presidential debate and the sit-up-in-bed realization (because I happened to be lying down at the time) that even if McCain had the chops and even if Obama had a resume longer than a page and change, the cold fact of the matter is that they have been battling for the privilege of sitting in the cockpit of an airplane that has become aerodynamically unstable.
(OCTOBER 25) Would Sarah Palin be running for vice president if she had a big wart on her nose? Of course not.
Now that we've gotten that no-brainer out of the way, let's move on to why she is John McCain's running mate: It certainly isn't her experience or world view, so it's pretty easy to conclude that a big reason is her MILF-ness, and I've lost count of the number of times I've seen The Old Guy stare at her shaply derriere when they're on stage together.
Yes, Palin is "objectively hot," as one male blogger put it. But for the record, I'm not befuddled because for me Palin is a turnoff. I've never been attracted to women who use their sexuality as a cudgel, and make no mistake about it: This woman is not being used by the men who run the McCain campaign. If anything she is using them.
(NOVEMBER 6) I'd already had some pretty good boo-hoos over the summer as Barack Obama's impossible quest became improbable and then possible. But I was a veritable Niagara Falls on Election Night.
Having kept a stiff upper lip through the first two hours or so of MSNBC's excellent coverage, I began to crack as it became obvious that Obama wasn't merely on the verge of becoming the 44th president, but was going to win in a landslide that would supercharge his mandate as the first African-American to lead all Americans. . . .
I was sniveling -- a gulping insucking of breath and a few stray tears -- by the time MSNBC was showing aerials of the tens of thousands of people streaming into Grant Park, a place that holds great feeling for me because of the 1968 police riots there amidst the last gasps of Eugene McCarthy's anti-Vietnam War insurgency at the 1968 Democratic convention.
Then a camera found its way to Jesse Jackson, tears streaming down his face as he stood frozen in the moment in the crush of bodies before the stage in the park where Obama would soon speak. Tears suddenly streamed down my face, as well, because that close-up meant so much: The ambivalence that I feel for the civil-rights leader, who while the most charismatic man I have ever met has been so maddeningly self aggrandizing and jealous in recent years as his place in the African-American power pantheon has diminished with the coming of Obama and other black politicians who now overshadow him on the national scene.
(NOVEMBER 12) I said from the moment it became obvious that Barack Obama would prevail that winning would be the easy part, and I have felt distinctly uncomfortable observing his first interactions as president-elect with George Bush and the Washington establishment.
Part of that unease falls into the category of This Is Too Good To Be True, and it will be a while before I don't wake up in the morning wondering if it is all a dream.
The larger part of my unease is the reality that governing -- you know, stuff like uniting, leading and legislating -- presents challenges for any incoming president, even one with a mandate that is as broad as Obama's. (Chris Rock hilariously notes that Obama of course has been given the most difficult job in the world because he's black.)
But this guy is being handed the reins of power in the midst of a multi-alarm fire, and while Democrats control both houses of Congress, the potential to screw up is high even if there were the makings of a bipartisan consensus on some seriously big issues like the economy, health-care reform and Iraq.
Which there are not.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAMON WINTER/THE NEW YORK TIMES