An Historic Night

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

Barack Obama
November 4, 2008

101 comments for “An Historic Night

  1. Never, will this person be my president. I can only hope that we will survive the destruction that he will bring to our economy and society.

  2. You will be my president…but you have a long road ahead of you if you want to gain my support.

  3. I’ll follow as far as I can and home this chameleon continues morphing and finds a greatness to match his new environment. But I’ll keep in mind Nimrod, who also promised salvation through government and whose main mission was to unify all the people behind his great civic project.

  4. I can only hope that we will survive the destruction that he will bring to our economy and society.

    Yes, just as we were getting over Jimmy Carter’s economically disastrous and scandal-plagued time in office, along comes evil incarnate to rule with an iron fist.

    Has anybody checked his scalp while he’s asleep for a strange configuration of bumps that looks like three sixes?


  5. James

    You’re not a citizen of the United States then? If not, more power to ya. If so, then it is impossible that this person would never be your president unless you have malicious intent to do something to him before the election day.

  6. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    Congratulations, President Obama. God bless you.

  7. Mark N.: I am laughing that you are blaming Jimmy Carter. I would have blamed bank deregulation.

  8. But I’ll keep in mind Nimrod, who also promised salvation through government and whose main mission was to unify all the people behind his great civic project.

    Uh…when did Nimrod promise this? Projection much?

  9. Wait, is Chicago one of the pro-America parts of the country? Coulda sworn I saw blatant flag-waving there tonight. This James does not share the sentiments of the first James (#2). Guess I’m gonna have to change my handle…

  10. Tom Rod – nice sarcasm. I reject the senator as ‘my’ president. I don’t sustain or support him. It’s called political opposition to what he and his friends and neighbors for the last twenty years stand for.

    TrevorM – George Bush is a good and decent man who has done as much as he could to defend this nation against enemies both foreign and domestic. You can say what you will to degrade and demean him.

  11. Genesis 11:4-5 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

    If you don’t believe it was NImrod, then any name will do. It’s the followers that give me pause.

  12. James, your petulance lends no credibility to your already lost cause. Perhaps you could take a lesson from the man you most likely voted for and accept the voice of the people as it has spoken.

  13. #15 – Got any arguments based on facts? I’m a partisan and I make no bones about it. I’ve been a delegate to republican county and state conventions and I’ve had enough candidates through my front door to wear out a couple of welcome mats. There is nothing that this man has said that I can support. So, I’ll be spending my political activity over the next years to evict this person from the White House. And, if you think that I’m bad or deluded, my wife thinks that anyone that supports democrats has been seduced by the dark side.

  14. I find it sad that, regardless of our respective politics, we can’t come together to appreciate the historic nature of this moment, the remarkable exercise of democracy in action and the election of the first African-American president. There will be plenty of time for partisan-sniping later.

  15. I’m just glad to know that Obama is moving beyond partisanship. I feel better knowing he’s appointing Republicans to half his cabinet posts, and nominating judges proposed by Republicans and Democrats in equal number.

  16. James, frankly you are a frightening individual based on your outlandish divisive posts here. Arguments based on facts? I won’t waste them on you.

  17. I will pray for Pres. Obama as I have prayed for all of them within my lifetime. I pray that he demonstrates wisdom and justice. I pray that he is inspired and lifted up. I pray that the challenges he faces will not overcome him. I pray for his protections and safety. I pray that his tax policies and health care plan will be stillborn and that he is given divine aid to avoid destroying our economy with massive government programs. I pray that we will be healed as a nation and that he will not have to face the challenges of terrorism, despotism, and government created market melt-down by the opposing party that his predecessor had to face.

  18. People said the same about FDR. But he was the right man for the time. And now we need another FDR. And I’m hoping we’ve got him!

  19. It’s nice to see so many McCain supporters heeding the call that he made in his concession speech to put aside partisan differences.

  20. “In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

    This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

    . . .

    I urge all Americans — I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”

  21. Don’t worry, Kaimi, it will just take a little time. The disappointed McCain supporters will get on board once Obama puts partisanship behind us and appoints Republicans to half his cabinet posts.

  22. I just now watched video of Obama’s acceptance speech, including footage of the crowd. Even after seeing lots of his rallies I can’t get over how entranced his followers are. They’re smitten. My whole life I’ve been exposed to cults of personality and charismatic leaders only through books and news from third-world countries — now it’s through my neighbors and fellow bloggers, and my students alternately wearing their iconic Che and Obama t-shirts. Rich years ahead for sociologists.

  23. Matt,

    I wonder the same thing when I see teenagers walking out of a John Bytheway talk at EFY…

  24. Also, I can’t help but wonder if, because you’ll be in the minority, the sociologist won’ be more interested in you.

  25. I wouldn’t have thought to compare Obama followers to teenagers at a Bytheway fireside, but I’m sure there are similarities. We can both be grateful the teenagers aren’t wearing t-shirts with a stylized Bytheway face. But it would be funny.

  26. Obama’s cult of personality comprises a lot less than 50% of the country, and even if it were a majority, sociologists would still be interested in it, and not me, because _cults of personality_ are rare. They can find people who aren’t in cults of personality everywhere.

  27. James – your comments lead me to believe you haven’t been on the planet long enough to develop much perspective. Eras, by definition, eventually end. Neo-conservatism had its day and now must leave the stage, and pouting won’t change the facts. As a life-long Republican, I take no pleasure in saying that my party clearly has lost its way and the American people have chosen not to reward poor performance. So be it. The GOP can now re-tool and return to its historic focus on limited government and fiscal responsibility, or it will become increasingly irrelevant.

    I join Senator McCain in saying that Senator Obama will be my president. I will pray for his well-being and his success. Are you seriously suggesting you would prefer that the economy sink further, or our international relatons worsen, simply so you could say “I told you so”?

  28. It wouldn’t do to take the comments in this thread too seriously. The comments from the Obama supporters will be far too much like gloating and the comments from the McCain supporters will be far too much like their teeth are on edge this close to the results of the election. Give people time.

  29. I was at BYU in 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected president and remember the downright apocalyptic talk going around (the Second Coming/end of the world was upon us, Clinton was straight from hell, etc.). We survived eight years of Clinton, and I believe we will survive Obama. More important, I believe that the Lord is at the helm, and that whoever occupies the White House–Democrat, Republican, or other–is there because He wants them there.

  30. Though I’m a little nervous about Obama, I must say that one of the positives of having him as president is that my little niece (who is part African American) will grow up knowing that African Americans can win the most powerful political seat in the world. I like that.

    And I really do hope that Obama can bridge some of the partisan divide. As for me and my house we will honor and pray for him.

  31. Marc, all presidents say they want bipartisanship when elected. Take a look at what the much reviled Pres. Bush said in Nov. 2004:

    “Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans. So today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent: To make this nation stronger and better I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America. (Applause.)”

    Many people on this board never gave Pres. Bush a chance — they began smearing him immediately. Some of the people who did so have condemned McCain supporters for being divisive right here on this thread. How quickly they forget.

    I will be criticizing the Obama administration when appropriate because it is my right as an American to speak out. Hopefully I will also find things to praise as well. I will also be praying that our new president makes good decisions. God bless our new president and God bless America.

  32. To add to Geoff’s point,

    Bush ran on friendly conservatism, just like Obama ran on friendly liberalism. We should all hope that Obama is better at achieving his stated ideals than Bush was.

    All presidential candidates like to portray themselves as (and think of themselves as) consensus builders. That Obama has been talking this way throughout his campaign is great. It should be noted that McCain, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, and so forth did the same. All presidential candidates want to work with the other side; unfortunately, few manage it very well.

  33. Like it or not, Obama will be our president. Our problems as a nation are bigger than either Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain, and will need all our efforts to help solved them. Pouting and gloating are counterproductive, so “put your shoulder to the wheel and push along”.

    It was for me not a simple choice, but I think we have done one really important thing here from a symbolic sense. It is sad that Pres. Elect Obama was our only sitting African-American senator, but it is heartening that he now becomes our first African-American President. That is a dramatic, and I think very positive change, especially since we know that the Lord is no respecter of persons.

    I also applaud Sen. McCain’s gracious and touching concession speech last night. If you voted for McCain and feel badly about his loss, he is still a leader who is due your respect, and he pointed in the direction that he wants us all to follow.

    God bless America.

  34. I was deeply touched by both speeches last night. My (often intense) disagreements with policies in both parties notwithstanding, I saw and heard sincere goodness in both men, especially as the divisiveness of campaigning melted away from their countenances, revealing the admiral desires which motivated them to run for president.

    I felt privileged to watch Obama’s historic speech, and I have more hope for the future of this nation than I’ve ever had. Like I told my kids, the outcome of this election will be in history books for the rest of time. It’s rare for me to have hand-over-heart teary-eyed patriotic moments, but last night I had to run for the Kleenex.

  35. Geoff – I don’t think the two are comparable. Bush actually claimed a mandate after squeaking out his victory in Ohio in 2004. More often than not, the strategy during the Republican rule of the past eight years was to pass legislation with a majority of the majority and to minimize and marginalize the Democrats. Only time will tell, but I think if that’s what you’re expecting from an Obama administration, then I think you underestimate him.

    I didn’t intend this post to be partisan and expected comments more in line with Adam’s in 37. The comments here baffle me. Karl Rove was more magnanimous last night than many of the commenters here.

  36. Jonah Goldberg:

    “Look, I expect to be one of the most severe critics of the Obama administration and the Democrats generally in the years ahead (though I sincerely hope I won’t find that necessary). But Obama ran a brilliant race and he should be congratulated for it. Moreover, during the debate over the financial crisis, Obama said that a president should be able to do more than one thing at a time. Well, I think we members of the loyal opposition should be able to make distinctions simultaneously. It is a wonderful thing to have the first African-American president. It is a wonderful thing that in a country where feelings are so intense that power can be transferred so peacefully. Let us hope that the Obama his most dedicated — and most sensible! — fans see turns out to be the real Obama. Let us hope that Obama succeeds and becomes a great president, for all the right reasons.

    As for John McCain, he is an American hero and arguably the best candidate we could have fielded. I will in the days to come offer no small amount of criticism about his campaign. But where his campaign may have lacked qualities that would have helped it win, the candidate never lacked for honor and integrity. Thank you John McCain for your sacrifice, commitment, and honor.

    God bless America, and may He guide Obama to be the best president possible.”

  37. I find it sad that the reactions of the crowd would be considered cult-like. In that crowd were people who had to sit at the back of the bus, who were subject to Jim Crow laws, whose ancestors were not even considered human. I, as a white woman, was sobbing during Obama’s speech, as he spoke of the woman who was 106 years old. This is historic. Sure, there are good things and bad things about Obama, and I will not always agree with his decisions, just the same way as I have with all presidents. However, last night was a deserving moment. It is good to look back at our history, and see how far we have come. Had Mitt Romney won, LDS faithful would have also shown adoration. They would have felt proud that one of their own could surpass prejudice to acheive the highest office of the land. In the same vein, but to an even stronger extent, when veiwing the history and difficulty of the African American race throughout history, this was a great moment. The reaction to the moment was proper. Many of these people have parents, grandparents, great grandparents who have been killed in crimes of hate, for no reason other than their skin was the “wrong” color. They have every, every, every right to adore this moment, to realize what this means, to elect someone with African heritage to be elected president. I am not even 30 yet, and I can see this. Please, allow us to celebrate, even for a moment, what a wonderful thing this is, and how this is another step in learning to follow the greatest commandment to Love One Another.

  38. Maren, I agree that Obama should be celebrated and that his victory was historic. And to clarify, the excitement for the people of color was touching; the people who looked happy to belong to the cult of personality with their Obama-face t-shirts were a group of white 30-somethings.

  39. Well, then count me in the cult, Matt. As a white 29 year old woman. Who sobbed. Who happens to be married to an Asian man. And has a daughter who is biracial. There are reasons that people are touched by this, no matter our skin color.

  40. People said the same about FDR. But he was the right man for the time. And now we need another FDR. And I’m hoping we’ve got him!

    FDR’s justice department prosecuted a farmer for growing his own wheat. Let’s hope Obama doesn’t go that far.

  41. Cults of personality aren’t created by people being touched or moved, they’re built around a Person As Symbol for the masses to project their desires on. That’s why cults of personality plaster artwork featuring the leader’s face all over. The followers are enthusiastic about the leader himself, as a brand, even more than the principles or causes themselves. I doubt we could find a single photo from election night ’92 of someone wearing or carrying art of Clinton’s face.

  42. @ J. Michael: Amen!

    IMHO, to elect a Republican president after the past eight years would have been to send a very dangerous message to our leaders, which is that we are not willing to hold them accountable. I would agree that any administration would have been hard-pressed to come out of the past eight years of American history looking victorious, but that doesn’t change the fact that most Americans in 2008 felt embarrassed by their leaders and were sick of it. Had it been the democrats in the White House from 2000-2008, it would be a very different story, but that’s simply not how it played out and begin bitter about it can’t change what has happened since the turn of the millennium.

  43. Matt, I thought the teaching profession was supposed to instil liberal propaganda in students–have you gone rogue?

  44. #36- J. Michael, I’m old enough to have been humiliated on the streets of a foriegn city as person after person asked my companion and I when Jimmy Carter was going to be a man and teach Iran that invading embassies was a bad idea. I’m old enough to have seen the damage that was done to the moral nature of society by a married president who saw nothing wrong with having sex with an employee almost 30 years his junior. Do I want there to be extreme economic hardship and international humiliation for this country? No. But I expect it to happen. Mr. Biden himself has predicted the international crisis. As for the hard economic times, tax increases on the only people who really pay taxes anyway, failure to develop domestic energy resources, and bankrupting the electrical generating industry through onerous taxes and fees will bring that on as surely as the sun rises in the east.

  45. I’m really looking forward to seeing Obama hunt around for WMDs under the seat cusions in the Oval Office. That one’s always a real knee-slapper, and guaranteed to win a smile.

    Except from the French, and everybody knows that they don’t really matter anyways.

  46. when Jimmy Carter was going to be a man and teach Iran that invading embassies was a bad idea

    It was a tremendously bad idea, and unfortunately for the US one that Carter didn’t learn until after attempting to re-invade the US embassy in Iran. The failure of Operation Eagle Claw was the real blow the man’s presidency.

  47. People said the same about FDR. But he was the right man for the time. And now we need another FDR. And I’m hoping we’ve got him!

    I will support and pray for President Obama and our other national leaders. But I also hope that he does not govern after the pattern of FDR. The FDR administration laid the foundation for many of the economic problems we’ve experienced recently.

  48. I’m curious what Matt thinks of the cults of personality surrounding Sarah Palin, or if you really wanna get po-mo, Joe the Plumber.

  49. yes, or the Rush Limbaugh, Hannity types. I just do not equate pictures on T-Shirts with cults. I equate it more with a modern, materialistic society.

  50. #58 – Three maybe four quarters of moderate recession then recovery as construction of new oil rigs gets rolling.
    #59 – Operation Eagle Claw was part and parcel of Carter’s lack of understanding of forces required. A handful of men where the job should have gotten two or three Marine Expeditionary Forces assigned. That whole operation and it’s failures are just one more example of Carter’s inadequacy on the international stage.

  51. I appreciate those who have expressed support and who offer prayers for the new President. You are more gracious than I felt in 2004. My attitude was more like James’. For what it is worth James, your day will come again. It is nice to be able to sleep at night without anger toward what I have thought is a rogue Administration.

  52. At least Obama’s cult did not “boo” John McCain during the victory speech. Whatever with the McCain/Palin people.

  53. At least Obama’s cult did not “boo” John McCain during the victory speech. Whatever with the McCain/Palin people.

    It’s a little easier to not ‘boo’ the other guy when your candidate just won. That doesn’t justify the booing; however, the difference between supporters’ reactions can be explained by human nature.

  54. Jeremy, I wouldn’t want a cult of personality to develop around Palin, and don’t see it happening. Maybe there are Palin face t-shirts and stylized face posters, but I haven’t seen them, fortunately. I agree that she was initially treated as an icon, but it’s faded.

    Marc, it looks like Obama’s post-partisanship lasted about 12 hours. ABC News is reporting that he’s asked Rahm Emanuel to be White House chief of staff.

  55. Matt,

    Would you really expect chief of staff to be a position with which a president reaches across the aisle? Come on.

  56. “Karl Rove was more magnanimous last night than many of the commenters here.”

    Yes, my favorite part was when he likened Obama’s popularity unto the Cosby Show. Well played, Mr. Rove. Well played.

  57. “Maren, I agree that Obama should be celebrated and that his victory was historic. And to clarify, the excitement for the people of color was touching; the people who looked happy to belong to the cult of personality with their Obama-face t-shirts were a group of white 30-somethings.”

    Heaven forbid people take interest in their candidate, and even sport clothing in support of him or her. Such a thing is unprecedented…

  58. Matt,

    I don’t think that T-shirts is the defining factor in a cult of personality in the age of CafePress.

    Sold-out Sarah Palin eyeglass frames, or bumber stickers that say “HERO AND HOTTIE,” on the other hand…

  59. Matt,

    Maybe you are still too much of a youngster, but what I saw last night reminded me a lot of when Reagan was elected. People acted like it was the greatest thing that ever happened in their lives, including their marriages or the births of their children. You can still buy Reagan t-shirts that feature his picture, Che style, and millions of dittoheads still refer to him only half-jokingly as Ronaldus Maximus.

  60. But Mark Brown, the cult of personality is okay as long as it involves the hagiography of Ronald Reagan.

  61. “the people who looked happy to belong to the cult of personality with their Obama-face t-shirts were a group of white 30-somethings.”

    The more I think of that the more offensive it becomes. Matt, your statement implies that only “people of color” (your words) should really care about issues of race. Or, to be more specific, it implies that “white” people aren’t, themselves, “people of color.”

  62. “I’m just glad to know that Obama is moving beyond partisanship. I feel better knowing he’s appointing Republicans to half his cabinet posts, and nominating judges proposed by Republicans and Democrats in equal number. ”
    He’s already reached out to Hagel and Lugar, he may surprise you yet.

  63. “I’m just glad to know that Obama is moving beyond partisanship. I feel better knowing he’s appointing Republicans to half his cabinet posts, and nominating judges proposed by Republicans and Democrats in equal number. ”
    He’s already reached out to Hagel and Lugar to be part of his administration, he may surprise you yet.

  64. For all of you not playing nice, a thought. All political parties, platforms, and ideologies are all the philosophies of men. Don’t mingle them with scripture, lest we lose our own souls.

  65. re: 55 – what a beautiful series of photos. when was the last time people around the world celebrated anything about the USA?

  66. It’s possible Obama, now he’s in a world historical environment, will change all his positions just as he did when he won the primary and started the general. Maybe his radical background won’t be determinative and he will have the wisdom to govern by truer principles than those he seemed to believe in as a Chicago pol. He ran on conservative rhetoric toward the end.

    So there’s hope. He might change.

  67. There are those of us who refuse to consider Obama our president because he did not in fact win in a legal election. Between the voter fraud and the intimidation he stole the election. Acorn did his work for him. The left complained vociferously for 8 years that Bush was a thief and villified him mercilessly. Dont expect the right to react any differently. He is no more my president than Bush was theirs. This is the beauty of partisanship. And before we consider this to be a bad thing let us recall that our much vaunted Captain Moroni executed people who would not support the cause of liberty. It doesnt get much more partisan than that…

  68. Last night was why I am glad that I am a member of the church with a prophet. Am I the only person who has read Helaman and remembers that eventually the Gadiantons got into the government? The book of Mormon is a type of our day. A Gadianton has been elected and half of the Mormons rejoice because it means free health care.

  69. The Gadiantons got into our government during the presidency of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Or maybe before…

  70. He is no more my president than Bush was theirs.

    So you’re no better than them.

    I’ll bet last night, Thomas Monson considered Obama to be his president and prayed for him.

  71. But that is impossible, queuno. As the crazies all over the bloggernacle have been telling us all day, the president-elect is a Gadianton, so it is impossible for Pres. Monson to pray for him. Comment # 82 is the sort of comment that the FBI would be interested to know about.

    Seriously, Murphy and sscenter. Your remarks are so far out of line I wonder if you are even serious. If you are, please be informed that they pharmaceutical industry makes medications that might help you.

  72. #86 You don’t agree with me. The government should investigate you. You are crazy and should be medicated.

    Your remarks are so far out of line I wonder if you are even serious.

    That vine and fig tree seem more alluring all the time.

  73. mlu, anybody who advocates the benefits of execution for the president-elect or those who voted for him is crazy. If you can’t see the difference between that and simply disagreeing with somebody, then you are crazy too..

  74. I wish some of you right-wing hot heads would simmer down. I’ve voted straight ticket republican all my voting days and consider myself to be, well, pretty dang right-wing American pie–for an artist, that is. But some of you guys are starting to tick me off. You’re an embarrassment to free-thinking conservatives.

  75. Mark Brown: Do you think he was advocating execution? It didn’t occur to me to read that seriously. Maybe I am among crazies. Or maybe it is me.

    Obama made me very nervous during the election but he won it and I intend to try pretty hard to support him. I’ll adjust my thinking based on reason and evidence as things unfold, not speculation and rumor. It’s easy for a Whig such as myself, since there is so little hope anywhere. Things have been going downhill since 1860.

    I do find myself thinking about the conclusion of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue:

    A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead–often not recognizing fully what they were doing–was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming dark ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. . .This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of awareness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another–doubtless very different–St. Benedict.

  76. All the right-wingers in this blog make laugh. They do not leave their petty arguments aside, but rather, choose to rant and cry. They will be compelled to be humble, because they know they have been counseled to pray for the president and others in government. That will teach them humility, respect and a better appreciation for others differences.

  77. An AP story in harmony with my comment #67, “Obama’s choice of Emanuel shows switch in tone”.

    And to those disputing the cult of personality, Reagan isn’t even close. The Reagan t-shirts are satires of the Che shirts and only surfaced after his presidency, when his status in the public mind was drifting from person to symbol. He wasn’t elected as symbol. The folks with their Obama t-shirts are in earnest, as are my Facebook friends with their stylized Obama face artwork; Obama’s a symbol and a brand already. His brand even has a logo (h”O”rizon with flag farmland). Reagan, the Bushes, the Clintons; none of them had logos.

  78. Matt,

    First, as for your AP story, are you now saying you believe what you read in the liberal, mainstream media? C’mon, man! This is the 21st century! Here is a far more sensible take, from Glenn Reynolds:

    Emanuel will serve as Obama’s hatchet-man and Dr. No, but the main targets will be Congressional Democrats and Democratic interest groups. Obama realizes that he’s promised a lot more than he can deliver, and Emanuel’s job will be to stave off all the claimants who — as they realize that too — will try to get to him before it’s too late. Obama can stay the good cop, while Emanuel will be the bad. Republicans flatter themselves if they think they’ll be the focus of Emanuel’s attentions; they’ll be an afterthought.

    As far as Reagan’s cult of personality, well, you were too young to remember it. We had Reagan-a-monies in fast meeting all the time, and the rumors flew that he was taking the discussions. But you needn’t take my word for it. Take George Will’s and Joe Sobran’s word for it:

    GW: “(There is) something un-Reaganesque about trying to plaster his name all over the country the way Lenin was plastered over Eastern Europe, Mao over China and Saddam Hussein all over Iraq. It’s time for us to rescue Ronald Reagan and his legacy from some of his more zealous friends.”

    JS: In the conservative movement, only one certitude remains: the Reagan cult. Most conservatives still believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but Reagan runs a close fourth.

    You are correct that this sort of cult developed only after he was elected, but that strikes me as possibly even worse, because it will never go away. It is very possible that that 12 – 18 months from now, a lot of the bloom will be off the Obama rose.

  79. Hi everyone, I am an LDS member blogging from New Zealand. I just wanted to add a global perspective to this discussion and comment on the impact I believe Obama\’s presidency will have on the church\’s image throughout the world. Although the church is viewed as a \’non-american\’ cult within America; it is perceived as an \’American\’ faith throughout the world. Thus, the image of America reflects on the image of the church. When I viewed the speeches of both Obama and McCain I saw two spiritual men, who presented a message to the world that America still is the promised land. I saw good will, inclusiveness, hope, redemption, reconciliation and determination – this will have a tremendous effect on missionary work. Those of us from biracial heritage felt uplifted by the fact that a white/african american could defy all opposition and become the President. I felt the same way when I sat in general conference and marvelled at the growing ethnic make-up of the general leadership. It gives me hope that maybe one day a Pacific Islander or Latino will be called as an apostle. The Lord is no respector of persons. America truly is the greatest country on the earth!

  80. Mark,

    All historical figures largely become symbols in the public mind.

    I don’t know the context of George Will’s quote, or why he chose to compare the “plastering” of Reagan’s name to Lenin and Mao instead of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy and MLK, all of whom have lots of counties, cities, ships, parks, streets and/or schools named after them. If conservatives have overreached it’s through an attempt to cement Reagan’s legacy and include him in the American pantheon, but cults of personality are centered around a charismatic leader, not their memory.

    That’s why Christianity (according to Weber) developed the priesthood after Christ’s death, and why the Party developed after Lenin, according to Weberians — they needed new authorities once the charismatic leader was gone.

    I suspect the cult of personality surrounding Obama will only grow once he’s in office; are there any examples of cults of personality shrinking while the power of the charismatic leader increased?

  81. Thanks Ira. I agree with you and with Wilfried that, at least for now, the mere election of Obama will do much to improve the image of the US and indirectly improve the image of the Church.

  82. I live in Hyde Park (Chicago). I was avid in my support for McCain, and in my contempt for Obama. I am really an unpleasant, Scrooge-like person, generally speaking. For example, my ideal “dialogue” with opponent x would be, slam x’s head onto table with palm, press, keep pressing, and whisper vitriol into manifest ear. Afterward, offer to buy x a Coke. (Psychologists will note, consciously or no, I didn’t capitalize x.) Anyway, the point is, I was surprised, strolling around the neighborhood last Tuesday night, at the slow upwelling of pure gladness in my heart, that Obama had won. You should have been there. Cars blazed to and fro like comets, horns blowing wildly, and every driver and passenger hailing you from an open window, — in fact, that was the main impression, that everyone everywhere was opening their window, in a hail of cheering and light. But it simply could not have been a matter of my heart growing two sizes, because by morning it had, if anything, shrunk; and I went about snarling at x; yet I was still glad. Sneerers, left or right, may join in a rousing game of hide and go f. yourselves. The best thing I saw that night was a middle school, where a projector cast an enormous live image of history unfolding a little, against a red brick wall. People stood in random knots, laughing and talking and watching McCain concede; and, only somewhat quieter, Obama accept; one of them was a Catholic priest. I noticed this when he twisted toward me to stretch his back (he was old, white-haired), and his ski coat parted at the neck to reveal his black and white collar. There were two straggling rows of metal chairs, but nobody sat. A small black kid, nominally in charge of the projector, took pictures of the wall with his cellphone. It was cold. I walked home. It’s inexplicable, I’m still with the Grinch and Scrooge, otherwise there’s no Christmas, yet I’m still glad. Sneerers, glut yourselves on these my pearls, and choke. I saw a kid riding a comet, in defiance of my reason. He wins.

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