As I begin to write, shortly after 8:00pmCDT, CNN is telling the world that Barack Obama has amassed sufficient delegates to clinch the Democratic party’s nomination for president of the United States.
As an interested observer of history, notwithstanding whatever personal feelings one might have or not about Obama the candidate, one cannot help but be quietly amazed at this turn of events, once so unlikely and tonight so inevitable.
I was born in 1948. Yeah, okay, old enough to be your grandfather, perhaps. But, take it from me, 1948 was not that long ago.
In 1948 racial segregation was a fact of life for most African Americans. That year, President Harry Truman signed an executive order ending racial segregation in the U.S. armed forces, although it took several more years to take effect throughout the military. Less than a year before I was born, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play for a major league baseball team. Today, we take for granted our integrated military force, and our integrated sports teams, in fact both would be curiously empty otherwise.
Now, a majority of voters in this endless Democratic primary season that began 18 months ago after the mid-term election of 2006, have chosen an African American candidate to campaign for the U.S. presidency in November.
Senator Obama, who burst upon the national scene when he delivered a rousing address during the 2004 Democratic convention, and who thereafter proved that delivering astoundingly inspirational speeches is one of his consistent talents (positively bracing in this age of the Southwestern mumble-mouthed mis-spokenness that passes for presidential speech these days — you’ll find some of Obama’s best efforts slickly packaged here and unadorned but magnificent here) has out organized, out fund-raised, out campaigned and simply out-inspired every other Democratic candidate, including, ultimately, this season’s other ground-breaking candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton.
As I’ve written previously, this nation is more than ready for a woman to take office as its president. There are any number of talented women in politics who have the capacity to fill that incredibly demanding position.
But. Not. This. Woman. Too much baggage, not the least of which is her “husband,” former President Bill Clinton.
At 8:37pmCDT, I pause to listen to Sen. Clinton’s speech in New York City, where she had a chance to concede gracefully. And, missed that opportunity.
There’s a school of thought out there that at this point she is holding out for the vice presidential position. There’s another school of thought that she simply is too ornery to bow out gracefully. There’s yet another school of thought that says that anything can happen during the chaos of your typical Democratic convention. All of these may be true.
None of this lessens the historical import of this day, where an African American man, born of an interracial marriage still illegal in many states of the Union at the time he was born, raised by his white single mother and her parents, has, according to the rules of his party, won sufficient delegates to secure the presidential nomination.
Assuming Sen. Clinton is persuaded, or persuades herself, that further blood in the water only provides hope to a reeling Republican party that deserves none, the McCain-Obama battle for the general election should be fun to watch.
And, historic every day.
It’s it for now. Thanks,