The Barack Obama Train: Climb Aboard
Although the Obama campaign has let people know there will be no dancing in the end zone over Tuesday's 15-delegate net victory in North Carolina and Indiana, cheering is allowed. "Presumptive Nominee" is now the operative phrase. In fact, the cheering was heard all the way down in the US House of Representatives yesterday. An impromptu, extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented event took place, one whose tea leaves provide excellent reads. In short, Congress acts as if Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States. Still hard to believe, isn't it? All you need to do is suspend its opposite. If we want to win, it's time to shift focus from one fight, and line up behind who's left standing for the next.
He was in the Senate when he cell-phoned undeclared Pennsylvania superdelegate Rep. Robert A. Brady, who asked him to stop by and say hello to him in the House chambers. Obama took him up on the offer, heading over to shake hands, saying, "See, Bob, I listen to you sometimes." Brady joked back, "You got to listen to me all the time," and then a full-on case of Obama-mania broke out, right there in the holy chamber. Representatives mobbed the candidate, with supporters and opponents alike jostling for some face time.
Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) had him autograph a copy of the NY Daily News, which had "It's His Party" on the cover. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y., a Clinton backer), and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) gave him bear hugs. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) later said she was escorting three elementary school students onto the House floor when Obama made his entrance. "It's Barack Obama!," they shouted out in unison, and Ros-Lehtinen took them over to meet the Senator from Illinois. “The kids were very excited,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “Like rock star excited.” Ros-Lehtinen has publicly advocated the assassination of elected Mid-East leaders, yet even she got caught up in the optimism. More Republicans crossed the aisle to greet and congratulate, all saying, "We're looking forward to working with you." (Suspending that disbelief yet?) More from Politico:
Obama posed for photos with giddy pages on the staircase leading up to the House gallery. The normally staid and deferential pages, who walk the halls quietly on their best behavior, returned the favor, giving Obama a rousing ovation. Security guards reprimanded reporters and tourists for snapping photos with their phones — something that is strictly forbidden in many parts of the chamber unless you are a credentialed photographer — but to little avail.Barack Obama took the pledged superdelegate lead away from Hillary Clinton (as ABC was first to report), gaining 9 superdelegates today alone. 117 such delegates endorsed him since February 5th, a 6-1 margin over Clinton in that period. He was winning the fundamental fight for the heart of a party which had become known for its ineffectual cowardice, a quality seemingly impervious to an appealing but uncertain Morpheus. Yet it happened. People, many of whose political lives depended on the Clintons, kept reaching for the Red Pill.
As that shift took place, I could feel the sheer weight and tectonic rumbles of a much larger turning. I sometimes caught myself thinking back to when I was a kid of 10 or so, riding in the backseat of a Mercedes sedan when my stepfather said to my mother of me, "He's a nigger-lover." All sorts of emotions passed through then, confusion, sadness, fear, anger, doubt, and ultimately, disappointment and profound embarrassment. I said nothing, but one statement contains so much, and it felt just like I've felt about this country through much of the intervening years. So yes, Dad, wherever you are, I am what you accused, here is the future that you feared. And I've made a donation of $50 to Barack Obama in your name.
When people look back, they'll say how obvious it all was, how latently etched it was in the marble of our country's monuments. So often, right when things happen in the now, their eventual impacts and echoes are not so obvious, and must be incrementally processed, extruded like ores recovered from the diaphanous parts of ourselves, the parts which live outside time, to smelt down encircling spirits into hard mortal symbols which make sense. Walk in enough cemeteries, and you'll see a virgin Mary. Yet historical impact can be as obvious as a rock upside the head, as noisy as a Civil War cannonade, nonsensical as a sermon on a mount, expansive as the day an African-American man walked out through the Capitol Building in the whitest country in the world trailing a throng of reporters, and visitors broke the muttering, whispering, sepulchral silence of its high white dome to yell across it, "Barack! Go get 'em, Barack!!"