Beth and I had a great time at the Capitol Steps last night. Two years ago, on election night, the same crowd was surly and just a bit mean-spirited, even though their candidates were sweeping into power in Congress.
Last night was a different world. I would estimate that 90% of the audience were of a like political mind. But they laughed at all of the jokes -- even those at their own expense. (If there were any John Edwards supporters in the audience, they may not have been laughing very hard.)
And I hope I know why. Last month, in feasting without grace, I noted that, over ten years ago, Peggy Noonan wrote in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness:
Young black men will save our country. I'm not sure completely what I mean by this but--they're tough and smart and know how to survive...
I received several email after I posted the comment noting it was, at best, offensive; at worst, racist. In support, each email listed the number of African-American politicians who have been utter failures.
Those readers missed the point, I think. Most politicians, who fail, fail because they act like politicians, rather than leaders. Race has nothing to do with that type of moral failure. Politicians tend to be equal opportunity thieves.
As of last night, Peggy Noonan's prediction may come true. At least, there will be a chance for it to come true.
I wish President-elect Obama the best of luck. He is going to have the benefit of high hopes and the drag of high expectations. That is best symbolized by the fact that a candidate who ran as a post-racial nominee is being acclaimed for the one aspect of his personality that he claimed was the least important: his race.
Last night he talked about the fact that American was strong because governmental power is limited. If he can govern with that same sense of humility, I may finally understand Peggy Noonan's point. For the sake of us all, I hope it will be true.