12/06/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Victory Reactions In The Media: Shock And Awe

After covering the longest campaign in American history for the past two years, it's fitting that all anyone in the media can talk about today is Obama's historic win.

Obama Papers

The New York Times put Obama's win in this context, looking back at the campaign.

Showing extraordinary focus and quiet certainty, Mr. Obama swept away one political presumption after another to defeat first Hillary Clinton, who wanted to be president so badly that she lost her bearings, and then John McCain, who forsook his principles for a campaign built on anger and fear.

His triumph was decisive and sweeping, because he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens. He offered a government that does not try to solve every problem but will do those things beyond the power of individual citizens: to regulate the economy fairly, keep the air clean and the food safe, ensure that the sick have access to health care, and educate children to compete in a globalized world.

As the Obama victory rang the death knell for the so-called "Bradley effect," Tom Friedman attributed part of Obama's win to a similar sociological phenomenon.

...there also may have been something of a "Buffett effect" that countered the supposed "Bradley effect" -- white voters telling pollsters they'd vote for Obama but then voting for the white guy. The Buffett effect was just the opposite. It was white conservatives telling the guys in the men's grill at the country club that they were voting for John McCain, but then quietly going into the booth and voting for Obama, even though they knew it would mean higher taxes.

The Washington Post looked forward in its editorial today.

BARACK OBAMA, 44th president of the United States: Like so many millions of Americans, we savor the phrase, and congratulate the winner, and celebrate the momentousness of the occasion. It is momentous for the generational change it heralds, the geographic realignment it reflects and the racial progress it both acknowledges and promises. Most of all, Mr. Obama's victory is momentous for the opportunity it presents to put the country on a new and better path, imbued, as he said last night, with a new spirit of patriotism, service and responsibility.


Mr. Obama cannot erase Mr. Bush's legacy, but he has a chance to improve America's standing in the world, ending such noxious practices as torture and indefinite detention with minimal review that have diminished this country in the eyes of its allies. He has the opportunity finally to set the country on a path to help reduce global warming. He has far-reaching plans on energy, health care and education, but also a realistic understanding that the state of the economy will delimit his ambitions.

Even Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal offered Obama "hearty congratulations" in its editorial.

A man of mixed race has now reached the pinnacle of U.S. power only two generations since the end of Jim Crow. This is a tribute to American opportunity, and it is something that has never happened in another Western democracy -- notwithstanding European condescension about "racist" America. That blacks voted for Mr. Obama so heavily is a typical rite of American passage, and it is similar to the kind of cultural pride that Catholics took in the victory of John Kennedy in 1960.

And The New York Post offered its historical congratulations as well.

And a tip of the hat to America, too: Just two generations ago, an African-American who attempted to cast a ballot courted violent death in the dark of night - but now a black man will ascend to the highest office in the land.

This is a tribute to how far the nation has progressed since the days of Bull Connor's fire-hoses and George Wallace's ugly rhetoric.

But it's even more a tribute to Barack Obama, who began this campaign as a longshot even for the Democratic nomination.

Joe Klein at Time praised the campaign's cooperation on issues.

Obama's decision to expend so much effort on a field organization was quietly revolutionary and a perfect fit for the larger political philosophy that he described when I spoke with him a few weeks ago. Obama insisted that while creating a new energy economy was his No. 1 priority, "we can't divorce the energy issue from what I believe has to be the dominant political theme underlying everything -- the economy, health care, you name it. And that is restoring a sense that we're growing the economy from the bottom up and not the top down. That's the overarching philosophical change that we've got to have."

That was the substantive heart of his campaign and of this election. It was a stark difference between the candidates. Unlike many elections I've covered where the stakes were small and the differences between the candidates were minor, this was a big election, with big differences between the candidates. It was a referendum on the Reagan era. Try as he might to dissociate himself from the Bush Administration, John McCain remained a classic Reaganite. He believed in the unilateral exercise of American power overseas, with an emphasis on military might rather than diplomacy. He believed in trickle-down, supply-side, deregulatory economics: his tax plan benefited corporations and the wealthy, in the hopes that with fewer shackles, they would create more jobs. Obama was quite the opposite. Unlike Bill Clinton, whose purpose was to humanize Reaganism but not really challenge it, Obama offered a full-throated rebuttal to Clinton's notion that "the era of Big Government is over." He was a liberal, as charged. But the public was ready, after a 30-year conservative pendulum swing, for activist government.

Terry Edmonds at US News And World Report expressed a disbelief that seems common in Obama supporters:

For months, as mainstream pundits and prognosticators argued about the growing prospect that Barack Obama would become the nation's first African-American president, I, along with many of my baby boomer African-American friends listened in semidisbelief. For as long as we could remember, whenever talk at the kitchen table or barber shop would veer into speculation about a possible black president, the conversation would inevitably abruptly end, punctuated by four final words--"not in our lifetime."

Even after defeating the formidable Clinton machine and outpacing every opponent as smoothly as Usain Bolt on the track in Beijing, there was the edgy feeling that somehow something would trip up the brother and disqualify him from taking home the gold. It was probably no accident that many of us read our first book by the black conservative, Shelby Steele, during this campaign. It was titled, A Bound Man--Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win. Steele seemed to validate our fears.

William Greider at The Nation noted that Obama has already "changed this nation profoundly."

For others of us at an advanced age, Obama's success is more shocking. We can see it as a monumental rebuke to tragic history--the ultimate defeat of "white supremacy." That vile phrase was embedded in American society (even the Constitution) from the outset and still in common usage when some of us were young. Now it is officially obsolete. Racism will not disappear entirely, but the Republican "Southern strategy" that marketed racism has been smashed. Americans will now be able to see themselves differently, North and South, white and black. The changes will spread through American life in ways we cannot yet fully imagine. Let us congratulate ourselves on being alive at such a promising moment.