Barack Obama has run one of the most impressive political campaigns in all of American history. That is saying quite a lot, but I truly feel he has earned that much, no matter what happens tomorrow night. The Obama campaign did not leak, and they did not squabble amongst themselves in public -- right there, two astounding feats that no other candidate in the race could manage. Should Obama be elected, and should he run his White House the way he has run his campaign; then we are about to see some professionalism and basic competence in Washington once again, instead of the pure partisan rancor and dysfunction we've (sadly) become accustomed to.
But it has to be said -- Barack Obama is where he is today because he is smarter than us. Now, by "us" I am not referring to you, dear reader (perish the thought!), but rather the collective "us" out here blogging in the progressive trenches on the left. We (and I certainly include myself in this) have been second-guessing Obama's political tactics and strategy for over a year now. Obama has had us tearing our hair out at times with frustration, and each time he wound up proving us wrong.
For months and months now, we bloggers have been telling Obama what to say and what not to say, what to do and what not to do, where to go and where not to go, and who to pal around with and who to shun. At times, we have gotten the collective vapors over the burning question: "Why isn't Obama campaigning the way I would tell him to campaign?!?" Obama showed us all that hysterics weren't the way to go -- and that the way to win the election was cool, calm, and collected. Which he does admirably well, I have to admit.
First it was Iowa, then the later primaries. Then the Reverend Wright fiasco. Then how Obama should campaign in Texas and Ohio. Then the long, long period of angst before Pennsylvania voted. The end-game with Hillary. The pre-convention jitters ("He's going on VACATION?!? NOW?!? What is he THINKING?!?"). The convention itself -- who speaks, when they speak, what to say.
And the "Party Unity My Ass" crowd (the "PUMAs") deserve a special mention in here as well. They bamboozled the media into covering their story, and then when their uprising didn't happen at the convention, all the media had left was: "What an astounding display of party unity!"
The last few months have been particularly intense -- Paris Hilton, the debates, Bill Ayers, Sarah Palin. Especially Palin. Anyone who thinks I'm exaggerating over saying we got "the vapors" just needs to go back to the week after the Republican convention (and before her ABC and CBS interviews) to see that I am not overstating our hand-wringing.
Even when Obama started his final rise in the polls, after the economic meltdown, we still couldn't entirely make the core fear of losing go away. This led to ever-more heartfelt pleas for Obama to do something differently.
But Barack Obama was smarter than us all. He has shown us how it should be done. His success is due in part to not listening to our hysterics, and doing what he thought he should in order to win.
As an aside, I firmly believe that in his first 100 days in office (should he win tomorrow), President Obama is going to intentionally pick a fight with the hard left. He's going to seriously annoy the progressive blogosphere wing of the party with some action he either takes or doesn't take. This, I should add, is going to annoy me personally... but I bet it will only improve his general approval with America-at-large.
Now, it has to be admitted that the bloggy left is a growing Democratic force, and it fulfills an important function -- to raise issues the mainstream media ignores, to police said mainstream media, and to push our own pet issues to the fore (most especially when Democratic politicians are content to ignore them). Our liberal voice is strong, and growing louder. And we are righteous in our beliefs that we have the answers. We force things to get done, and get done right. There's no denying our growing influence.
But I have to say, once again, that Barack Obama was right not to always listen to me, and others of my ilk. He knew through it all that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and that a purist lefty candidate would not win the White House. So I have to stand up and admit it.
Obama was right. We were wrong. And he has shown he knew what he was doing all along, which makes me even more comfortable casting my vote for him tomorrow.
[Program Note: Instead of Wednesday's usual Electoral Math column, I will be posting my picks for the election some time tomorrow afternoon, both on my site and at the Huffington Post, before the polls close.]
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com