Not Accepted

Last night, John McCain delivered a concession speech. It was duly conciliatory, but make no mistake: This speech was tinged with the magnanimity that only defeat provokes. Whether tarring a scholar as a terrorist or impugning the patriotism and allegiance of his opponent, John McCain’s campaign repeatedly exploited the divisive culture war politics that have impeded progress in the past. Whatever sway his advisers might have had, John McCain was ultimately responsible for the reprehensible ad hominem campaign he ran.

While it’s true that McCain believed in the superiority of his candidacy and that the perfect is the enemy of the good, the consequences of his campaign are made no less tangible by his concession. John McCain once stood — whatever his motivation — as an advocate of climate change reform and in opposition to the inequality George Bush’s tax cuts engendered, but as John McCain prostituted himself to the base elements of the Republican party he abandoned his cap-and-trade policy and embraced an economic agenda that has failed so many. And while Bill Ayers will soon be a relic of campaign trivia, many of the campaign’s smears won’t simply fade with the election’s end. John McCain has built genuine opposition to causes for which he had once proudly championed. The electoral mandate granted to Barack Obama is impressive, but rest assured, true reform will be made more difficult by the irresponsible venality of John McCain’s ambition. No mea culpa will change this.

UPDATE: FYI, this was sort of written in response to pieces like this and this.

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Coast to Coast

Reader Adam points us to this video he took of “one of the many” spontaneous street celebrations in San Francisco. More awkward white people dancing, but same general idea.

I’ll quote an incisive point by Ezra Klein made about the U Street celebrations that I think is equally trenchant in the video above:

By the way: This wasn’t simply relief at the end of the Bush era. Late last night, I walked by the White House, where another impromptu rally had emerged to sing goodbye to our disgraced failure of an executive. That was an angry crowd. Satisfied and relieved, yes. But angry. It was a crowd still dealing with the demons of the past eight years. Not so on U Street, or across the rest of DC. Those were Obama crowds. They would not have existed for Clinton or Edwards. They were not simple satisfaction at a change from the Bush years. Indeed, Bush was a non-entity on the streets. These were crowds that were utterly joyous at the prospect of what they had just done: Elect a black president. Strike a blow for civil rights that many had presumed impossible. A win by a more traditional Democrat would have put Bush in the past, but there was a sense last night — inchoate, but present — that Obama’s victory somehow represented a more decisive transition into the future. That wasn’t a political judgment and it wasn’t connected to policies. It was just a sense that an America that could do this was a different America than the one we had been living in for the past few years.

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Victory for the Pollsters

Steve Benen makes a good point that this election was also a victory for the pollsters, many of whom were pretty close. And as for the indispensable FiveThirtyEight?

And speaking of polls and impressive showings, how did Nate Silver and fivethirtyeight do? Nate’s final projections showed Obama winning with 348 electoral votes and 52.3% of the popular vote. As of this morning’s count, Obama has 349 electoral votes and 52% of the popular vote.

We’re going to wonder how we got through elections without him.

Indeed.

The Celebration

I’ve been scouring YouTube looking for some scenes from the spontaneous celebrating on U Street last night, and this one’s pretty decent. It’s worth pointing out that this happened on literally every street corner: 12th and U, 13th and U, 14th and U, and so on…

And elsewhere in the universe…

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The End of Racism?

On the networks last night and in the papers this morning there was a lot of — deserved — back patting about America having grown up to elect an African American. Thomas Friedman is pretty emblematic here:

How did Obama pull it off? To be sure, it probably took a once-in-a-century economic crisis to get enough white people to vote for a black man. And to be sure, Obama’s better organization, calm manner, mellifluous speaking style and unthreatening message of “change” all served him well.

This is half-right in that the economic crises proved politically important for Obama’s victory, but insofar as “enough white people” propelled Obama to victory, Friednman’s analysis is dead wrong. This graph shows whites and non-white as a share of the total electorate as compared to John Kerry in 2004:

As Matt Yglesias points out, “31.57 percent of voters were white people who voted for John Kerry in 2004. In 2008, the tally was very similar — 31.82 percent of voters were white people who voted for Barack Obama.” In other words, Obama won not because enough whites were able to put aside their prejudices, but because Obama dramatically increased the size of the minority share in the electorate.

There’s no doubt that Obama’s presidency represents an incredible step forward for race relations in America, so I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but it’s worth putting things in perspective.

Wow

Unreal. Flatly unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Great day for America, great day for the world.

Now Can See

There’s a lot to watch for tonight, and for a less wonky take, check out Josh Marshall here.

First, the short version, if you don’t want all the details. The first key is Virginia at 7 PM. If Obama takes Virginia, where he’s ahead, he’ll almost certainly take Pennsylvania (at 8 PM) too. And that will pretty much be it for McCain. Between 6PM and 8 PM there are five other states: Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina. These are all basically toss-ups with a few slight leads for Obama. If McCain is losing in any of them, he’s probably done.

More details in the link.