The most moving moment for me, actually, was John McCain's concession speech. Winners nearly always look good and strong. Flush with his historic and almost unbelievable victory, Barack Obama had an easier night of it. It was for McCain to do the hard thing: to not only accept loss and graciously congratulate the winner, but to encourage the rest of the country, that had fallen silent last night, to offer their blessings to the new President-elect and his family.
I believed John McCain last night. It is true that no man alive has served his country more than he. But the abundantly decent and brave McCain went on an unfortunate detour during his campaign. He distanced himself from the John McCain of the 2000 race, who many Democrats I know had found so much easier to accept, if not embrace, than Bush. Suddenly last night, like magic, the old McCain appeared and addressed his supporters, his decency and courage front and center, once again.
And I think McCain probably felt, in his heart, that he did not lose the race. Bush did. One final dividend for the GOP from this administration as they prepare to turn out the lights. This is really the final verdict on Bush.
The greatest thing we can do now, those of us who support Obama, is hold him to the same standards to which we held Bush. Let's face it. We've worked Bush over pretty badly these past few years. It is time for us to face that reality from conservatives, especially with the Triple Crown in place.
It's a celebration for everyone. Not African-Americans alone. Obama could not have won without successfully eliciting the support of millions of ethnically and racially diverse Americans, most of them white, who believed he represented the best hope for real change in Washington.
As a friend at work said to me today, Obama has already done more to enhance America's reputation around the world, just by getting elected, than Bush has done in eight years.
There are stains you think might never wash away. Slavery, Vietnam, the 2000 election, Iraq. This election, however, comes closest. Something good is happening. Something's right. America is great when we do great things. I believe this will prove to be a great thing for our country and the world.
God bless Barack Obama and his family. And, truly, God bless America.
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