Anyway, once Jesse Jackson started crying and then Oprah, the floodgates opened. For real. It was like the great flood when he promised his two daughters a new puppy.
Damn you Obama for going the new puppy route! And forcing me to hide my man tears in front of so many people.
The truth is though, the stories that fascinate me the most about politics are not the end results, it is not Wil.I.Am appearing R2D2 holograph style on CNN, or the long protracted ballot recounts or whether John McCain blinks too much.
No, rather what interests me are the long form stories, the anecdotes, the setbacks, the frustrations, the triumphs and the chess-like gambits that are revealed afterward. It’s the stories of Obama not wanting to run for President because he was worried about the effects on his daughters and wife or how an honorable man like John McCain ended so off course until he redeemed himself with a gracious concession speech.
Many times journalists get embedded with a campaign, but they’re under embargo to write anything until after the election. And it is when the election is over that the good stuff comes out. You can see it now with Sarah Palin.
I’m still looking for confirmation on whether or not Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country, but it’s interesting to see how the GOP instantly decided to throw her under the bus for their election night thumping.
More stories like this will come out, but to tide us over until then, Newsweek has launched a seven-part series by a group of writers covering John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It is the closest to a must read we have post-election. Six parts have been posted.
Part One: How Obama decided to run for President and beat the long odds.
In some ways, running for president was a preposterous idea for someone who had served as a two-term state legislator and had spent only two years in the United States Senate. But Obama, a careful student of his own unique journey, could see the stars coming into alignment—the country was exhausted by the Iraq War (which he, alone among leading candidates, had opposed as “dumb” from the outset). As Obama saw it, the conservative tide in America was ebbing, and voters were turning away from the Republican Party. People were sick of politicians of the standard variety and yearned for someone new—truly new and different. Another politician with a superb sense of timing, Bill Clinton, perfectly understood why Obama saw a golden, possibly once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity. The former president believed that the mainstream press, whose liberal guilt Clinton understood and had exploited from time to time, would act as Obama’s personal chauffeur on the long journey ahead. “If somebody pulled up a Rolls-Royce to me and said, ‘Get in’,” Clinton liked to say, with admiration and maybe a little envy, “I’d get in it, too.”
Barack Obama can be cocky about his star power. On the eve of his speech to the Democratic convention in 2004, the speech that effectively launched him as the party’s hope of the future, he took a walk down a street in Boston with his friend Marty Nesbitt. A growing crowd followed them. “Man, you’re like a rock star,” Nesbitt said to Obama. “He looked at me,” Nesbitt recalled in a story he liked to tell reporters, “and said, ‘Marty, you think it’s bad today, wait until tomorrow.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘My speech is pretty good’.”
Part Two: The comeback narrative of John McCain
McCain was never comfortable playing the front runner. His comment when he first walked through headquarters was “It’s awfully big.” McCain was ill suited to be the establishment’s man. He was suspect to the true believers on the right, the Rush Limbaugh “dittoheads” who regarded him as a RINO (Republican in Name Only). While the Republican right wanted to build a wall and keep out all the immigrants, McCain was trying to forge a compromise—with Ted Kennedy, no less. The party stalwarts had reason to be doubtful about McCain, who could be salty in his private denunciations. To a couple of his closest advisers he grumbled, “What the f––– would I want to lead this party for?” […]
Along about Thanksgiving, reporters began to notice a change. The size of the crowds was increasing, and McCain began to creep up in the polls, especially in New Hampshire. He was blessed by the quality of his opponents. In the grim days of summer, when a NEWSWEEK reporter had asked why he shouldn’t join the rest of the press corps in reading the last rites for McCain’s presidential aspirations, Rick Davis had responded with an incongruously cheerful smile. Nothing personal, he said; our opponents are all good men, some of them are my friends-but politically speaking? “Look, at the end of the day,” he said, “the rest of these guys suck.” However crude, his judgment was not off base. Ex-businessman Mitt Romney seemed to treat the campaign as a management-consulting project, as if he were selling a product and trying to increase market share. He had no fingertips as a politician and came off as a phony, even when he was perfectly sincere. Rudy Giuliani seemed to be building a cult of Rudy, constantly talking about his performance on 9/11 to a nation that wanted to forget about the terrorist attacks, and he badly miscalculated by believing that he could wait until the Florida primary in late January to make his move. Former senator Fred Thompson seemed old and half asleep. Former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas was emerging as an engaging showman and a lively dark horse-but as an evangelical minister with no foreign-policy experience, he almost certainly could not win.
They’ve posted six out of seven parts and though it’s a long read by internet standards, if you’re a political junkie and wondering “what now?” I would suggest you read up. Part 3 (Clinton-Obama Siege), Part 4 (McCain retools to take down Obama), Part 5 (Obama sweats the Clintons, McCain gambles on Palin) and Part 6 (the great debates on the eve of the election).