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Obama at last, out from under

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Rick Horowitz
August 28, 2008

Nomination? Hell, it was an exorcism!


There was a moment on Wednesday evening, just after Joe Biden had finished speaking, had finished explaining how—at least as far as his good friend John McCain was concerned—years of life don’t always equal strength of judgment. Explaining how the younger man could have the greater wisdom.


And now Biden was done, and the cheering was done, and Biden’s wife was onstage with him, saying something about a surprise guest, and suddenly there he was: The nominee himself. In the flesh.


He was smiling—why wouldn’t he be smiling? But more than smiling: Barack Obama looked as if he’d exhaled for the first time in weeks.


This was—finally—his convention. His room. His crowd. His time.


Which is to say, there were—finally—no more Clintons.


No more months of head-to-head combat for delegates, followed by weeks of leaks about “respect” and “catharsis.” No more negotiations about speaking slots and roll-call procedures. No more speculation about who had more leverage. About how many additional concessions it would take to satisfy them.


No more reports of bruised egos and deep, brooding funks. No more constant media updates on the state of the fracture. No more worries about what they might say—or might not say—when each of them took the podium.


It must have been exhausting. Now, at last, that part was over.


No wonder he was exhaling!


It’s not a normal nominating convention that expends nearly all its energy on someone other than the nominee. Not normal, but absolutely true this time: It wasn’t until that moment late Wednesday evening that this convention stopped being all about Bill and Hillary Clinton, and started being about the man who had taken them on and—improbably, historically—vanquished them.


History had a perfectly valid claim on the spotlight. But history would have to wait until the final Clinton had uttered his final line.


And then it was Biden’s turn, and then something about a surprise guest, and there he was: The nominee himself. Taking control.


Is the squabbling over? Really over? Probably not. Hillary, and then Bill, said everything they were supposed to say from that podium, and maybe even a little more, to make the case for Barack Obama. They gave their most ardent supporters permission to move, and reasons to do it. It couldn’t have been easy to let loose dreams as large as theirs have been, and as longstanding.


And nobody believes even for a second that the Clintons have finished dreaming. They’ve simply reset their calendar. (Did you catch that line of hers about “With eyes firmly fixed on the future…”? Was she talking unity, or 2012? Stay tuned.)


Almost certainly, there’ll be days between now and November when the masks slip just a bit, or “sources close to” start whispering in reporters’ ears. The Clintons will hit the campaign trail too energetically to satisfy some people, too lackadaisically to satisfy others. The phrasing of their praising will get Talmudic scrutiny. And always, the hunt for hidden agendas.


But at that moment on Wednesday evening, those concerns were—finally—set aside. This was Barack Obama’s party, and everyone exhaled.

The ghosts had left the building.


Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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